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Nicolas Lancret
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Lancret came from a family of Parisian artisans. After an apprenticeship with the history painter Pierre Dulin, and a term at the Royal Academy's school, he entered Claude Gillot's studio in 1712. Gillot, then director of scene designs and costumes for the Opera, probably introduced him to Jean-Antoine Watteau, with whom he developed a close stylistic affinity. In 1719 he was elected to membership in the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture as a painter of fe^tes galantes, a category created two years earlier for Watteau. Lancret participated in the Exposition de la Jeunesse from 1722 to 1725, and exhibited regularly at the official Salons from 1737. He received a number of royal commissions (e.g., decorations for the Chateau de la Muette, the Louvre, and Versailles) and enjoyed the patronage of many prominent amateurs, including Frederick 11 of Prussia. Lancret gradually evolved an individual style, more decorative but less poetic and symbolic than Watteau's. Although he produced portraits and history paintings, his work is devoted primarily to aristocratic genre scenes- outdoor gatherings with themes of the dance, music, the hunt, and elegant repasts. Lancret's charming works are a perfect reflection of the spirit and customs of eighteenth-century French society.