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Joseph-Sifrede Duplessis
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Duplessis, as a southerner from Carpentras, near Avignon, was trained quite differently from contemporaneous court painters. Asa result, recognition of his talent by Parisian society was slow to materialize. At the age of twenty he went to Rome and entered the studio of Pierre Subleyras, where he rapidly developed his artistic abilities. In 1752 he was in Paris, but it was not until 1764 that he had his first success at the Academy of Saint Luke. He achieved fame with ten works exhibited at the Salon of 1769 and was elected to membership as a portraitist by the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1774. When he was named official court painter to Louis XVI, the aristocracy and most of the famous people of the time clamored to sit for him. The Revolution deprived him of patrons, and he retired to Carpentras during the Reign of Terror. Back in Paris in 1796, he was appointed curator of the collections at Versailles. Recognized as the finest realistic portraitist of his generation, rivaled only by Alexandre Roslin, Duplessis records facial expression with a searching and sensitive brush, interprets the moods and feelings of his sitters, and always presents clear evidence of their social position.