Maurice Quentin de La Tour

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Maurice Quentin de La Tour
Autoportrait de La Tour.jpg
Self-portrait with Lace Jabot (ca 1751)
Born Maurice-Quentin Delatour
(1704-09-05)5 September 1704
Saint-Quentin, Kingdom of France
Died 17 February 1788(1788-02-17) (aged 83)
Saint-Quentin, Kingdom of France
Nationality French
Known for Pastel

Maurice Quentin de La Tour (5 September 1704 – 17 February 1788) was a French Rococo portraitist who worked primarily with pastels. Among his most famous subjects were Voltaire, Rousseau, Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour.


He was born in Saint-Quentin, Aisne, the son of a musician who disapproved of his taking up painting. At the age of fifteen La Tour went to Paris, where he entered the studio of the Flemish painter Jacques Spoede. He then went to Rheims in 1724 and to England in 1725, returning to Paris to resume his studies around 1727. After his return to Paris, he began working with pastels.

In 1737 La Tour exhibited the first of a splendid series of 150 portraits that served as one of the glories of the Paris Salon for the next 37 years. Endowing his sitters with a distinctive charm and intelligence, he excelled at capturing the delicacy of their features. In many of his self-portraits he depicts himself smiling; Laura Cumming states of La Tour that "where other artists make heavy weather of portraying themselves, he takes the task lightly and seems to have produced more glad-faced self-portraits than any other artist".[1]

In 1746 La Tour was received into the Académie de peinture et de sculpture and in 1751 was promoted to councillor. He was made portraitist to the king in 1750 and held this position until 1773, when he suffered a nervous breakdown. For a time the painter Joseph Ducreux was his only student. La Tour founded an art school and became a philanthropist before being confined to his home because of mental illness. He retired at the age of 80 to Saint-Quentin where he died at the age of 83.



Maurice Quentin de La Tour on a banknote of 50 Francs 1978 of the French national bank Banque de France
  • Issue of regular 50 Francs French Banknotes during the years 1976 to 1992 with de La Tour's portrait.


  1. Cumming, Laura (2010). A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits. London: HarperPress. p. 159. ISBN 9780007118441.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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