Oudry is an artist who was well ahead of his time in depicting nature. The lighting and rendering techniques he used are certainly with the realm of a Rembrandt or Chardin although he is not revered as such today. However, don’t cry for him, he was a very successful painter who was lauded during his lifetime.
Jean-Baptiste Oudry (17 March 1686 – 30 April 1755) was a French Rococo painter, engraver, and tapestry designer. He is particularly well known for his naturalistic pictures of animals and his hunt pieces depicting game.
Although Oudry produced excellent scenes of animals and of hunting, he also painted portraits, histories, landscapes, fruits and flowers; he imitated bas reliefs in monotone tints en camaïeu, used pastels, and created etchings. He was often sent examples of rare birds to draw, and for his constant patron, the Christian Ludwig II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, a famous series of animal portraits from the ducal menagerie (still at Schwerin).
Oudry lost some of his responsibilities when Fagon was replaced by de Trudaine. He suffered two strokes in quick succession. The second left him paralysed, and he died shortly thereafter, at Beauvais (Oise). He was buried in the Church of Saint-Thomas in Beauvais. His epitaph on the stone was lost when the church was demolished in 1795, but was later found and placed in the Church of Saint-Étienne.
His son, Jacques-Charles Oudry, was also a painter.
Two exhibitions curated by Hal N. Opperman, first at the Grand Palais, Paris, October 1982 – January 1983, and then in a travelling exhibition in the United States, 1983, encouraged a reassessment of this purely French portraitist and genre painter.