Deshais, John Baptist Hf.Nry

, an ingenious French painter, was born at Rouen in Normandy, in 1729. He received the first elements of design from his father, and afterwards practised at Paris, under M. Vermont; but learned from Restout those excellent principles which he afterwards cultivated with so much success, and soon obtained many of the medals which the academy gave as prizes for design. In a journey he took to Rouen (his native place), he obtained several commissions for historical pieces, several of which he executed while under M, Restout. His picture of Potiphar’s wife, which he painted as a candidate for the academy’s prize, procured him the friendship of M. Boucher, at that time principal painter to the king, and Restout consented to yield the young Dehais, as an eleve of that artist. In 1751 he carried the first prize of the academy; and in consequence became a disciple of the king’s school, under the direction of M. Carlo Vanloo; and during three years he profited much by the instructions he received from that great master, extcuting many pieces of great merit. After this, hu | vesided some time at Rome; and in spite of very bad health, prosecuted his profession with unremitting diligence, and great success. On his return to Paris, he married the daughter of M. Boucher, and was received into the academy with universal approbation the pictures which he presented on that occasion were of such merit as to give very sanguine hopes that he would one day become one of the greatest of the French artists. Every successive exhibition at the Louvre proved in the clearest manner, that his reputation was fixed on the surest foundation: but he died in the midst of his career, in the beginning of 1765. The principal of his works are, the History of St. Andrew, in four large pictures, at Rouen; the Adventures of Helen, in nine pieces, for the manufactory of Beauvais; the Death of St. Benet, at Orleans; the Deliverance of St. Peter, at Versailles. The Marriage of the Virgin is a subject simple in itself, but is nobly elevated by the painter. The grand priest is standing up, and turned towards the sacred spouse; his arms are extended, and his countenance directed towards the illuminated glory. Scarce any thing can be more expressive than the air of this head. The grandeur and the majestic simplicity of the virgin’s head are also finely conceived; and her whole figure admirable. The picturesque composition of the groupe is very well managed the draperies are in a bold and elegant taste the lights and shades finely imagined, melting into all the happy effects of the clear obscure. — His Resurrection of Lazarus is full of expression: the different emotions of surprise, terror, and admiration are most ingeniously varied, and finely characterised in the three apostles. The two women who behold the miracle, display the invention of the painter; one of them is full of astonishment, mixed with terror, at the idea of the sight before her the other falls prostrate to the ground, adoring the divine worker of the miracle: the whole piece is full of character and expression. His picture of Joseph’s Chastity is one of the finest that ever issued from his happy pencil: Potiphar’s wife is represented darting herself from the bed, and catching Joseph by his garment. The crime, hope, and fear of her passion, are expressed in the most lively manner in her eyes and countenance. The figure of Joseph is well designed; but it was on the woman that the painter, with great justness, bent all the efforts of his imagination, and his art. Among his other works are the Combat of | Achilles against the Xanthus and Simo’is; Jupiter and Antiope, in which the figure of the woman is wonderfully delicate and pleasing. A small piece representing Study, very fine. Artemisia at the tomb of her husband, &c. 1


Dict. Hist. Cochin’s Essai sur la vie tie M. Deshais.