"L'artiste createur, L'homme aimable": A Survey of the Artistic and Commercial Success of Jean-Baptiste Isabey
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Jean-Baptiste Isabey was one of the most successful French artists of the nineteenth century, yet his name is unfamiliar today. His popularity survived eight different regimes, from Louis XVI to Napoléon III. Known as the “portraitiste de l’Europe”, Isabey painted every major historical personality from Marie-Antoinette to Hortense de Beauharnais. In the past few years, scholars have been intrigued by this man who has disappeared from the pages of history. This thesis examines the painter’s life and major works under each regime to discover why he achieved success in such variegated environments. This thesis argues that Isabey’s popularity was due to both his personal and artistic merit. His ability to win patronage, artistic versatility, and family support allowed him to maintain a successful career throughout his lifetime.