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Francoise Duparc: Story Of The Lesser Known Baroque Master

Updated: Mar 4

Francoise Duparc
Old woman Sitting And Untitled by Francoise Duparc | Source: Musée des beaux-arts de Marseille And Unknown Author

When we read about the female painters of the eighteenth century, somewhere you will hear the names of Anne Seymour Damer, Rosalba Carriera, or Angelica Kauffman. However, a heap of female artists enshrouds in a few pages of history, but their works of art convey a story and remain cardinal. For instance, the century witnessed some of the most extraordinary artworks, including portraits, miniatures, pastels and oil paintings, and three-dimensional artworks; we see today. But, amid the increasing demand for portraits, which remained popular in France and England, genre paintings were also in vogue. And few among them were so sentimental that they remained favourites during the course of the period. They straightforwardly represented the depictions of a group that had traditionally been left out of French art; the working class. Such paintings were not only the images we appreciate due to their vividness but the reality of the time. One such artist who was notable for this work and less known today is Francoise Duparc. Let me narrate to you a story of her life and beautiful artwork.

Born in Spain to a french father, Antoine Duparc, a sculptor and a Spanish mother, she moved to Marseilles with her family at four. There is a piece of less information on her earlier days and education, but she presumably learned in the beginning from her father. There is little evidence that she trained briefly with the painter Jean Baptiste van Loo. Her sister, Josephe Antonia, was also a professional artist.

As an adult, Francoise Duparc lived in Paris and London, producing and exhibiting vast genres of paintings, from figure paintings to religious subjects and portraits. When she returned to her home, Marseilles, in 1771, she became a member of the local academy and started genre paintings. However, it is notable to know that most French genre paintings of the time were not entertaining and moralizing. So these were not so popular. Hence, Duparc started to get influenced by the Dutch genre paintings, which resulted in a beautiful series of her artworks. She painted the everyday tasks of working-class people with dignity, showcasing every emotion in them she could. It was often said that her paintings were similar to those of Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin.

The story of the painting Femme au bonnet de dentelle Huile sur toile on canvas is well understood by a usual everyday chore where an old-woman curiously prays through beads. There is an expressiveness on the canvas by Duparc through her vivid eyes, peaceful facial expressions and choice of subtle warm colours. If you look closely at the lady, you will see that Duparc showed the self-contained compactness of her personality, where her only world for the last days revolves around books and God. The artist impeccably showed patchwork to fill the old lady with colours, but at the same time, showing the wrinkles on her face through lines. The contrast of the image is higher with pronounced saturation. With the blend of cool and warm colours, she perfectly portrayed the curious emotion behind the portrait.

Francoise Duparc painting Femme au bonnet de dentelle Huile sur toile
Femme au bonnet de dentelle Huile sur toile by Francoise Duparc | Source: Invaluable

Another canvas of Francoise Duparc, which displays a woman knitting in a peaceful posture, has left the viewers flabbergasted by the way, the artist showed a resemblance of an everyday-easy chore with such delicacy. The painting shows the entirely emotional look of the lady through her simplicity. Upon looking, the certain facial expression, choice of sober colours, and innocent use of white on warmer backgrounds showed the wiseness of the artist. Again, there is a gentle fold of clothes, substantial use of saturation and light on her delicate skin, which makes this composition one apart.

A painting of woman knitting by Francoise Duparc
Untitled painting by Francoise Duparc | Source: Unknown Author

There are other paintings which Francoise Duparc made efficiently with her desire to show sentimental genre paintings.

The herbal tea seller or La marchande de tisane Francoise Duparc Painting
The herbal tea seller or La marchande de tisane by Francoise Duparc | Source: Françoise Duparc, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Girl with Cap (bust) by Francoise Duparc
Girl with Cap (bust) by Francoise Duparc | Source: Françoise Duparc, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Unequivocally, the beautiful use of colours, radiancy, sentimental emotions and the lightness of Francoise Duparc makes her art special. It feels that Duparc was no less than the lady Vermeer. So, let us celebrate the craftsmanship and excellence of the colours through her canvases. Meanwhile, let me know which painting of her adored you much.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Who was Francoise Duparc?

Francoise Duparc was a Spanish Baroque painter brought up in France and known for her artworks portraying the everyday tasks of working-class people. She was the pupil of Jean Baptiste van Loo and mastered figure paintings, religious art, portraits, and genre paintings.

Where are Francoise Duparc's paintings?

While most of Francoise Duparc's art resides in the private collection of art collectors, some of her paintings are owned by different museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, France.

What type of art did Francoise Duparc make?

While Francoise had the mastery to draw figure paintings, religious art and portraits, it was the Dutch genre paintings she was known for.

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