Desportes, Alexandre-François

(b. 1661, Champigneulle, France--d. April 20, 1743, Paris), French painter who specialized in portraying animals, hunts, and emblems of the chase; he was among the first 18th-century artists to introduce landscape studies using nature as a model.
[Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1994]

French painter of dogs, game, and emblems of the chase. In his early career he worked much as a portraitist, notably in 1695-96 at the court of Jan Sobieski (John III) in Poland, but on his return to France he took up hunting subjects and won the patronage of Louis XIV and Louis XV. He achieved considerable celebrity (he was well received on a visit to England in 1712) and in his field was rivalled only by Oudry. Although he continued the lavish Flemish tradition exemplified by Snyders, Desportes was among the first artists of the 18th century to make landscape studies from nature for his backgrounds, and because of this he was considered eccentric. His work is well represented in the Louvre, which has Self-Portrait as a Huntsman (1699) and in the Wallace Collection, London.
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