Coypel, Charles Antony

was admitted into the academy of painting in his twentieth year, where he had already executed several pictures of great merit; his son, who was born at Paris in 1694, and to whom he left his name, his talents, his knowledge, and virtues, enjoyed the same good fortune. in his 2ist year: he was first painter to the duke of Orleans, and in 1747 to the king. Though his peronal qualities and endowments had already made him a welcome guest with the princes and great men of the court, yet this last appointment increased his reputation; and the first use he made of his consequence, was to induce M. de Tourathem, who had fortitude of mind sufficient for such a sacrifice, to decline the title of a protector of the academy, which hitherto had always been connected with the office of superintendant of the buildings, in order that the academy of painting, like all the rest, might be under the immediate protection of the king. He also erected a preparatory school, at Paris, for the y^ung pupils, who went to Rome, where they studied history, and exercised themselves under able masters. To him likewise the public were indebted for the exhibition of the pictures in the Luxembourg gallery. Like all men of genius, he had his enviers and rivals; but his rivals were his friends, his modesty drew them to him, and he never refused them his esteem. His place as first painter to the king brought him to court, and made him more intimately acquainted with the queen and the dauphin. The queen often gave him, | work to do, which chiefly consisted in pictures of the saints and other objects of devotion. On her return from Metz, finding over her chimney a picture which he had privately executed, representing France in the attitude of returning thanks to heaven for the deliverance of the king, she was so moved, that she exclaimed, “No one but my friend Coypel is capable of such. a piece of gallantry!” The dauphin had frequently private conversations with him. He himself executed the drawing for the last work of Coypel, the “Sultan in his seraglio.” His table was always strewed with the manuscripts of this artist, which he intended to publish at his own expence. The death of the author prevented his design, and on hearing of the event, the prince said publicly at supper: “I have in one year lost three of my friends!

Coypel seems to have exerted himself more for others than for himself; he was a good master, a good relation, a good friend, and a man of veracity. His father disinherited him in favour of his sister by a second marriage, and tJie son did the same in regard to his brother, by depriving him of all benefit from the inheritance of Bidautt. Coypel was author of several theatrical performances, the rehearsals of which were attended by crowds of people, not for the sake of feeding his vanity with an artificial applause, but from friendly participation, and the conviction of their intrinsic noerit. Most of them were performed at the private theatre of madame Marchand, and in the Mazarine college, for which they were expressly composed. The well-known “Don Quixote” is by him. Coypel also wrote several dissertations on the art of painting, and academical lectures, which latter are in print. He even wrote the life of his father, which excels no less by the delicate manner in which he criticises his father, than by the modesty with which he speaks of himself. His acquaintance was very much sought after. One proof of this is in the prodigious heaps of letters that were found after his death. He was particularly the favourite of a small coterie, where talents, knowledge, and good humour were cherished, unmixed with jealousy, pride, and licentiousness. In the number of its membevs were Mess. Caylus, Helvetius, Mirabeau, Mariveaux, inad lle Quinaut, madtime Marchand, and several more. They met alternately at the apartments of each other, and sat down to a supper which, by a law | of the society, was not to cost more than fifteen livres. Coypel was remarkable for his liberal spirit. He caused a house that had been thrown clown by an inundation to be rebuilt at his own expence on a far more convenient and handsome plan, without the impoverished owner’s ever knowing to whom he was indebted for the bounty. He annually laid by 2000 livres of his revenue for works of charity, and requested the duke of Orleans to employ the expence of the coach which that prince kept for him in alms to the poor. The duke of Orleans had an uncommon value for him. The duke could not bear a warm room, but when Coypel came to him, he always ordered a rousing fire to be made up, “for,” said he, “he is chilly<” This same prince composed a poem, shewed it to the artist, and asked him, whether he should have it printed? Coypel was honest enough to say, “No:” and the duke tore it, and threw it into the fire.

A similar anecdote of the duke of Orleans the regent, and Antony Coypei the father, deserves to be related here by way of conclusion. The regent knew that Coypel, on account of some disgusts, was intending to accept of an invitation to England. He therefore drove to his lodgings one morning, in a fiacre, quite alone, without any attendants, and had him called down: “Come into the carriage,” said he to the artist, who was quite disconcerted at this visit; “let us go and take a drive together: you are. chagrined I want to try whether I cannot put you in a good humour,” and this jaunt made Coypel at once forget both England and his chagrin. The subject of this memoir died in 1752, in the 58th year of his age. 1


Pilkington. D’Argenville. —Strutt.