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Charles de la Fosse

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Painter, b. in Paris, 15 June, 1636; d. in Paris, 13 December, 1716, and buried in the church of Saint Eustache. His father was a jeweler, his mother Marguerite Langlois, and he was the seventh of sixteen children. He was educated under under François Chauveau, and then in the studio of Lebrun. In 1663 he was in Venice, and attracted the attention of Pierre de Bonzy. He was employed (1969) in decorating the Tuileries, and the churches of Saint Eustache and the Assumption. On 23 June, 1673, he became a member of the academy, and five months afterwards married Elizabeth Beguin, at the church of Saint Sulpice, but had no family. Lord Montagu, when ambassador to Paris in 1688, came into contact with La Fosse, and so much admired his work that he called him to England, and employed him to decorate Montagu House, on the site now occupied by the British Museum.

William III begged La Fosse to remain in England and decorate Hampton Court, but Mansart the architect recalled him to Paris, that he might carry out the decoration in the dome of the Invalides. He decorated the dome in fresco with an immense scene representing S. Louis placing his crown and sword in the hands of Christ. The ceiling of the Galerie d'Apollon in the Louvre is also by La Fosse, and he executed a good deal of work at Versailles, including the Salle de Diane and the roof of the chapel, and there are five of his panel pictures in the Louvre. He painted several works for the Trianon which were commissioned in May, 1688. He was one of the finest colourists France ever produced, and had a fine sense of decoration and extraordinary power in composition, but his drawing was inaccurate, and to compare his work with that of Titian and Veronese is to do it far too great honor. La Fosse was intimate with Crozat, and executed some decoration for him at his country house. He exhibited at the Salon in 1699, and in 1704, and his works have been engraved by various artists, especially Audrin, Picart, Thomassin, and Simonneau.


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