Monnoyer, Jean Baptiste (DNB00)

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MONNOYER, JEAN BAPTISTE, better known by the surname of Baptiste (1634–1699), flower-painter, was born at Lille on 19 July 1634. He went when very young to Paris, and his admirable pictures of flowers and fruit, which he painted almost always from nature, soon gained him a great reputation. His works became the fashion among the wealthy, and he was received into the Royal Academy of Painting on 14 April 1663. His admission was afterwards annulled on account of some informality, and he was received anew on 3 Oct. 1665. His pièce de réception, representing flowers and fruit, is now in the Musée at Montpellier. He exhibited at the Salon only in 1673, when he sent four flower-pieces under the name of Baptiste. Although much engaged in the decoration of the royal palaces of Versailles, Marly, Vincennes, and Meudon, and of the Hôtel de Bretonvilliers, he was induced by Ralph Montagu, afterwards Duke of Montagu [q. v.], then British ambassador to France, to accompany him on his return to England in 1678, and to assist in the decoration of Montagu House, Bloomsbury, which in 1754 became the British Museum. He subsequently painted 'numerous flower-pieces and panels at Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, Burlington House, Kedleston Hall, and other royal and noble residences, and often painted the flowers in Sir Godfrey Kneller's portraits. His works have not the high finish and velvety softness of those of Van Huysum and some other flower-painters of the Dutch school, but they possess greater freshness of touch and vigour in composition. The Louvre has eight of his undoubted works, and three more are attributed to him. Many others are in the provincial museums of France and in the private collections of England. About eighty of them have been engraved by John Smith, Poilly, Vauquer, Avril the elder, and others. He etched thirty-four of his own compositions, consisting of bouquets, garlands, and vases and baskets of flowers, which are for the most part executed on a white ground. The 'Livre de toutes sortes de fleurs d'apres nature,' often attributed to him, was engraved by Vauquer from his designs.

Monnoyer died in London on 16 Feb. 1699, and was buried in St. James's Church, Piccadilly. Sir Godfrey Kneller painted his portrait, which was engraved in mezzotint by George Smith and by Edward Fisher.

Antoine Monnoyer (d. 1747), called 'Young Baptiste,' one of his sons, was his pupil, and also a painter of flowers, but his works are much inferior to his father's. He also came to London, but was in Paris in 1704, when he was received at the Academy, and again in 1715. He returned to England at the beginning of 1717, and remained here until 1734. He died at St. Germain-en-Laye in 1747. Another of his sons, known as 'Frere Baptiste,' who went to Rome and became a Dominican monk, was likewise a painter. He was a pupil of his father and of Jean Baptiste Corneille the younger, and painted some large pictures of scenes in the life of St. Dominic for the schools of his convent. Belin de Fontenay (1653-1715) the flower-painter was also a pupil of Monnoyer, and married his daughter Marie in 1687.

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England, ed. Wornum, 1849, ii. 599; Mariette's Abecedario, 1851–60, iv. 7; Bellier de la Chavignerie's Dictionnaire général des Artistes de l'École Française, 1868–85, ii. 110; Jal's Dictionnaire critique de Biographie et d'Histoire, 1872, p. 880; Villot's Notice des Tableaux du Musée National du Louvre (École Française), 1880, pp. 230–3; Robert-Dumesnil's Peintre-Graveur Français, 1835–71, iii. 229–38.]

R. E. G.