Jean-Baptiste Pillement (1728-1808). He was king of Roccoco in the 1700’s, preferred decorator to Marie Antoinette and the kings of Poland and Austria, yet died completely penniless. His landscapes were eye candy fantasy worlds for the 18th century mega rich.
Feted by the hyper rich and influential of the time, Pillement was avidly collected by the famous English actor, David Garrick, and his Austrian wife Eva Maria Weigel and Marie Antoinette employed him to decorate the Petit Trianon, her Neo Classical château on the Versailles Palace grounds.
Jean-Baptiste Pillement (1728-1808), was one of the most influential and sought after decorative and ornamental draughtsmen working in Europe in the second half of the 18th century. It’s easy to forget that Jean Pillement was an equally gifted painter, especially of pastoral landscapes, marines, flowerpieces, animal subjects and chinoiseries.
Pillement’s landscapes were Rococo heaven on canvas. Eye candy worlds for the 1700s. Shepherds leading their goats and sheep to a cascading stream bathed in creamy sunshine, sparkling water mills, lush vegetation blossoming from rocky elevations, the romantic relics of an ancient bridges. These pastoral scenes, seascapes and picturesque views found an adoring audience in England and, after declining an offer to become First Painter to King Joseph of Portugal, Pillement headed to London where he became a popular and respected member of artistic circles. He spent eight years in England, fully exploiting the English taste for landscapes.
In 1763 Pillement then traveled to Vienna, where he was employed at the Imperial Court of Maria Theresa and Francis l. In 1765 he left Vienna for Warsaw, where his many projects included decorating Warsaw’s Royal Castle and the Ujazdów Castle, his largest project, commissioned by the Stanisław August Poniatowski, the king of Poland. He went on to work in Saint Petersburg, Italy’s Piedmont region, Milan, Rome and Venice.
By the end of his life however, he’d come full circle, back to where he’d started. In Lyon and broke. Pillemont died in poverty in Lyon in 1808, at the age of eighty, his output having and income suffered from the decline of the French taste for the rococo in the aftermath of the Revolution.
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