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Joseph-Marie Vien was a French painter, winner of the Prix de Rome. He was in Rome at a time (1743-50) that coincided with excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii, and in his lifetime he gained a great reputation (partly self-promoted) as a pioneer of the Neoclassical style. He was enthusiastic for the ideas of Winckelmann, but his classicism was of a very superficial kind, consisting of prim and sentimentalized anecdote or allegory with pseudo-antique trappings (The Cupid Seller, Château de Fontainebleau, 1763). Nevertheless, he gauged the taste of the time well and had a career of exemplary success, becoming director of the French Academy in Rome (1776) and First Painter to the King (1789). He was made a senator by Napoleon after the Revolution, a count in 1808, and was buried in the Pantheon. David was his most important pupil. His son, Joseph-Marie the Younger (1762-1848), was also a painter, mainly of portraits.
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