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BOILLY, LOUIS LÉOPOLD

La Bassée 1761–1845 Paris

Louis-Léopold Boilly began painting as a self-taught artist at around the age of 13 and specialised in depicting everyday scenes of the French middle class. He had a collection of Dutch genre paintings, especially works by Gabriël Metsu (1629–1667), Willem van Mieris (1662–1742) and Gabriel ter Borch (1617–1681), from which he drew inspiration. In 1794 Boilly was condemned by the French Committee of Public Safety for the erotic character of his work. He escaped punishment by producing a patriotic work, the 'Triumph of Marat', which is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lille (inv. no. P. 395). After 1794 he increasingly painted multi-figure compositions and specialised in history painting and portraits.Boilly enjoyed great success with his public and amassed considerable wealth during his lifetime from the sale of his paintings and prints. He was one of the first artists to use the technique of lithography, invented in 1796. One example is his 'Recueil de grimaces', published between 1823 and 1828, which illustrates his interest in caricatures of French society. His youngest son, Alphonse Boilly (1801–1867), settled in New York, where he worked as an engraver.


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