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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


Volume 9 Page 244
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 183 he answered surlily, ‘‘ Tell Madame the Marchioness, that I do not run about the town to paint.” Some friends representing to him the impropriety of such a message, he promised to go to Versailles on a certain day, provided no one were permitted to interrupt him. On his arrival he repeated the condition, requesting leave to consider himself at home, that he might paint at his ease. This being granted, he took off his buckles, garters, and neckcloth ; hung his wig upon a girandole, and put on a silk cap which he had in his pocket. In this dishabille he began his work, when prese%tly the King entered. “Did you not promise me, Madam,” said the painter, rising and taking off his cap, ‘‘ that we should not be interrupted 1” The King, laughing at his appearance and rebuke, pressed him to go on. “It is impossible for me to obey your Majesty,” answered he ; “ I will return when the Marchioness is alone.” WitL this he took up his buckles, garters, neckcloth, and periwig, and went into the next room to dress himself, muttering as he went, that he did not like to be interrupted. The favourite of the king yielded to the painter’s caprice, and the portrait was finished. It was a full-length, as large as life, afterwards exhibited at the Louvre, and perhaps the greatest work of the kind ever executed. M. de Latour painted all the Royal Family, and both Court and city crowded to his closet. With an agreeable talent for conversation, just ta.ste, a memory stored with extensive knowledge, and an excellent heart, he could not be destitute- of friends. His house was resorted to by the most distinguished artists, philosophers, and literati of the capital. Favoured by the sovereign, and by the heir-apparent, he was devoid of pride, and had the modesty twice to refuse the order of St. Michael. In private, M. de Latour was a useful member of society, generous, and humane. The desire of making others happy was his predominant, or rather sole passion. Gratitude published, in spite of him, his numerous acts of benevolence, and his door was continually surrounded by the needy. Amongst the useful establishments to which M. de Latour turned his thoughts, painting-the source of his fame, and in great measure of his fortune -particularly claimed his attention. He gave a sum (equal to four hundred guineas) to found an annual prize for the best piece of linear and aerial perspective alternately, to be adjudged by the Academy of Painting at Paris. Persuaded too of the benefits of good morals and useful arts, he founded an annual prize of twenty guineas, to be distributed by the Academy of Amiens to the most worthy action, or most useful discovery in the arts. He also founded and endowed two establishments : one for the support of indigent childrenthe other, an asylum for distressed age; and, at St. Quentin, a free school for drawing. Having enjoyed all the pleasures attached to celebrity in the capital, AT. de Latour at length retired to the place of his nativity, His entrance into St. Quentin resembled a triumph--a mark of respect to which, as the benefactor of mankind, as well as for his talent,s, he was justly entitled.
Volume 9 Page 245
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