French Paintings of the 15th through the 18th Century, Systematic Catalog

About the Author

Philip Conisbee (1946–2008), volume editor and principal author, was senior curator of European paintings at the National Gallery of Art and a specialist in French art of the 17th through the 19th century.

French Paintings of the 15th through the 18th Century, Systematic Catalog

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Philip Conisbee, contributing editor Richard Rand, with Joseph Baillio, Gail Feigenbaum, Frances Gage, John Oliver Hand, Benedict Leca, and Pauline Maguire Robison

Georges de La Tour's haunting depiction of a repentant Mary Magdalen gazing into a mirror by candlelight; Jean Siméon Chardin's perfectly balanced image of a young boy making a house of cards; Jean Honoré Fragonard's monumental suite of landscapes showing aristocrats at play in picturesque gardens—these are among the familiar and beloved masterpieces in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, which houses one of the most important collections of French old master paintings outside France. This lavishly illustrated book, written by leading scholars and the result of years of research and technical analysis, catalogues nearly 100 paintings, from works by François Clouet in the 16th century to paintings by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun in the 18th.


French art before the revolution is characterized by an astonishing variety of styles and themes and by a consistently high quality of production, the result of an efficient training system developed by the traditional guilds and the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, founded in 1648 by King Louis XIV. The National Gallery of Art's collection reflects this quality and diversity, featuring excellent examples by all the leading painters: ideal landscapes by Claude Lorrain and biblical subjects by Nicolas Poussin, two artists who spent most of their careers in Rome; deeply moving religious works by La Tour, Sébastien Bourdon, and Simon Vouet; portraits of the grandest format (Philippe de Champaigne's Omer Talon) and the most intimate (Nicolas de Largillierre's Elizabeth Throckmorton); and familiar scenes of daily life by the Le Nain brothers in the 17th century and Chardin in the 18th. The Gallery's collection is especially notable for its holdings of 18th-century painting, from Jean Antoine Watteau to Hubert Robert, and including marvelous suites of paintings by François Boucher and Fragonard. All these works are explored in detailed, readable entries that will appeal as much to the general art lover as to the specialist.

  • Hardcover
  • 9.75 x 11.25 inches
  • 552 pages, 118 color and 214 b+w illustrations
  • Published: 2009

Editorial Reviews

"Each entry is preceded by an admirable biography of the artist and a useful technical note (on the state of conservation of the painting and its successive restorations), its provenance, exhibitions, then the entry itself, notes to the text and main bibliographic references. The photographic reproductions are excellent." —Pierre Rosenberg, Burlington Magazine

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