Rigaud, John Francis (DNB00)

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RIGAUD, JOHN FRANCIS (1742–1810), painter and royal academician, born at Turin on 18 May 1742, was second son of James Dutilh or Rigaud (1705–1764), merchant of Turin, by Jeanne Francoise Guiraudet, his wife. His grandfather, Jacques Dutilh (1655–1705), was descendant of an ancient family at Clairac in Guienne and merchant at Lyons, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Jean Rigaud, a merchant of Crest in Dauphiné. His grandfather, being of the reformed religion, fled, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, to Geneva with his wife, but died on the way. His wife, on reaching Geneva, resumed her maiden name, by which she and her posthumous son were known. She afterwards married Jacques Mallet of Geneva, ancestor of Mallet Dupan, the historian, and Sir Louis Mallet [q. v.]

Rigaud was baptised 9 Sept. 1742 at the protestant church of La Tour in the Valley of Lucerne in Piedmont. He was intended to share his father's commercial business, but, evincing a love of painting, was placed as a pupil with Chevalier Beaumont of Turin, historical painter to the king of Sardinia. After some early ventures in historical and portrait painting, Rigaud went to Italy, visiting Florence and Bologna, where, at the age of twenty-four, he was elected a member of the Accademia Clementina; afterwards he went to Rome, but was recalled to Turin for family reasons. He found plenty of work in Turin, but returned to Rome in 1768 to complete his studies. At Rome he met James Barry (1741–1806) [q. v.] among others, and it was perhaps through him that he determined to go to England. He reached London in December 1771, and was fortunately befriended by merchant friends of his father in the city. He had, however, to face early struggles in art, and was assisted by Nollekens the sculptor, whose portrait was one of the first pictures exhibited by Rigaud in the Royal Academy of 1772. He had, however, already attained sufficient distinction to be elected an associate of the Royal Academy in November 1772, having not been a complete year in England. He continued to exhibit historical and classical pictures and portraits at the Royal Academy for many years, but his most lucrative and engrossing employment seems to have been painting decorative subjects for ceilings and staircases of the town and country mansions of the nobility. Among his employers for this purpose were Lord Melbourne, Lord Gower, Lord Sefton, Lord Aylesford, and others. These were executed in the popular Italian style of Cipriani and Biagio Rebecca, being mostly classical figures, imitations of bas-reliefs, and similar subjects. As an historical painter Rigaud had little merit, though he contributed some of the pictures to Boydell's ‘Shakespeare Gallery.’ As a portrait-painter he ranks high, his portraits being well and strongly painted. The most important among these were a portrait group of Bartolozzi, Carlini, and Cipriani, exhibited as ‘Portraits of Three Italian Artists’ at the Royal Academy in 1777, of which there is a good engraving by John Raphael Smith; and a companion to this, exhibited as ‘Portraits of Three English Artists,’ representing Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir William Chambers, and Joseph Wilton, the sculptor, which is now in the National Portrait Gallery. In 1781 he painted for Captain E. H. Locker [q. v.] small portraits of naval heroes, including Nelson.

Rigaud was elected a royal academician on 10 Feb. 1784, and seems to have been very popular with his colleagues. He was chosen to be visitor of the academy students on several occasions. He continued to contribute regularly to the exhibitions up to the year of his death. In 1805 he received a commission to paint a ceiling at Windsor Castle, and he also was employed to restore the ceiling and staircase paintings in the old British Museum. Rigaud continued to maintain correspondence with his relatives in Switzerland, and painted a portrait of Mallet Dupan on his taking refuge in England (now in the possession of Bernard Mallet, esq.). He and his son were prominent members of the Marylebone volunteers, on their being mustered in 1799. Rigaud died at Packington, the seat of Lord Aylesford, suddenly, from apoplexy on 6 Dec. 1810, and was buried there. He had in 1795 been appointed historical painter to Gustavus IV of Sweden, and was also a member of the Royal Academy of Stockholm. In 1802 he translated Leonardo da Vinci's ‘Treatise on Painting.’

On 21 July 1774 he married Mary (1740?–1808), second daughter of John Williams of Haverfordwest, by whom he left three daughters and one son, Stephen Francis Dutilh Rigaud [q. v.]

[Manuscript memoir of John Francis Rigaud, R.A., by his son, communicated by Miss Emily Warren Davies.]

L. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.234
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
296 ii 34 Rigaud, John F.: for younger read second
35  after Rigaud insert (1705-1764)
36  for Girardet read Guiraudet
37  after Dutilh insert (1655-1705)
10f.e.  after baptised insert 9 Sept. 1742
297 i 13f.e.  for 1780 read 1781 and for E. H. Locker read William Locker
12-11 f.e.  for including Nelson. read His portrait of Nelson was acquired by the present Earl Nelson for 70l.
ii 16  after Mary insert (1740?-1808)