Francoise Duparc: Story of the Lesser Known Baroque Master

Francoise Duparc is one of the forgotten female artists whose paintings depict some of most realist expressions that still retains the potential of leaving a lasting impact on the viewer.

Francoise Duparc

When we read about the female painters of the eighteenth century, somewhere you will hear the names of Anne Seymour Damer, Rosalba Carriera, or Angelica Kauffman. However, a heap of female artists enshrouds in a few pages of history, but their works of art convey a story and remain cardinal. For instance, the century witnessed some of the most extraordinary artworks, including portraits, miniatures, pastels, oil paintings, and three-dimensional artworks; we see today. But, amid the increasing demand for portraits, which remained popular in France and England, genre paintings were also in vogue. And few among them were so sentimental that they remained favourites during the period. They straightforwardly represented the depictions of a group that had traditionally been left out of French art; the working class. Such paintings were not only the images we appreciate due to their vividness but the reality of the time. One such artist who was notable for this work and less known today is Francoise Duparc. Let me narrate to you a story of her life and beautiful artwork.

Artist Abstract: Francoise Duparc.

Baptised in Murcie, Spain, on 15 October 1726, her father was Antoine Duparc, a sculptor and a Spanish mother, Gabrielle Negrela. She moved to Marseilles with her family at four. There is a piece of less information on her earlier days and education, but she presumably learned in the beginning from her father. There is little evidence that she trained briefly with the painter Jean Baptiste van Loo. Her sister, Josephe Antonia, was also a professional artist. Subsequently, she stayed in London in the 1760s but returned to Marseille by 1771. She was a member of the local Academy.

NameFrancoise Duparc
Birth15 October 1726
Died11 October 1778
GenrePortraiture (Known)
Famous PaintingsMan with a Sack, Tisane Seller, Old Woman

Life of the Artist.

Francoise received her early training from her father Antoine, and the most formative study of her artwork was in the studio of Jean-Baptiste van Loo. Billioud tells that Jean insisted that she be quoted and marked as one of her pupils as he was impressed by her talent. 

As an adult, Francoise Duparc lived in Paris and London, producing and exhibiting vast genres of paintings, from figure paintings to religious subjects and portraits. When she returned to her home, Marseilles, in 1771, she became a member of the local academy and started genre paintings. However, it is notable to know that most French genre paintings of the time were not entertaining and moralizing. So these were not so popular. Hence, Duparc started to get influenced by the Dutch genre paintings, which resulted in a beautiful series of her artworks. She painted the everyday tasks of working-class people with dignity, showcasing every emotion in them she could. It was often said that her paintings were similar to those of Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin.

It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that Duparc got recognition in her own country, and her artwork became a part of exhibitions. In 1763, in London, she exhibited her various works at the Free Society and the Society of Artists. As she did not sign her paintings, most of her artworks are unknown to us. At the time of her death, her studio had 41 paintings, out of which we know only four today. 

Briefly Analysing Some of Francoise’s Paintings.

Duparch painted sensitivity and humility in her subjects, which could mean she was familiar with all of them. All of her paintings were simple and direct, which does not shift into the realm of nostalgia. Ann Sutherland Harris suggests,

“Duparc had an exceptional gift for capturing a fleeting moment of evocative expression.”

1. Femme au bonnet de dentelle Huile sur toile.

The story of the painting Femme au bonnet de dentelle Huile sur toile on canvas is well understood by a usual everyday chore where an old woman curiously prays through beads. There is an expressiveness on the canvas by Duparc through her vivid eyes, peaceful facial expressions and choice of subtle warm colours. If you look closely at the lady, you will see that Duparc showed the self-contained compactness of her personality, where her only world for the last days revolves around books and God. The artist impeccably showed patchwork to fill the old lady with colours, but at the same time, showing the wrinkles on her face through lines. The contrast of the image is higher with pronounced saturation. With the blend of cool and warm colours, she perfectly portrayed the curious emotion behind the portrait. With crosses arms at her belt, her shoulders covered with a scarf, her face is neither young nor too old, however, her posture appears elderly. By looking at the painting, one can suggest that she is a symbol of her after-work rest as she wears her work clothes. There are no distraction in the composition, just a bench and subject.

Francoise Duparc painting Femme au bonnet de dentelle Huile sur toile
Femme au bonnet de dentelle Huile sur toile by Francoise Duparc | Source: Invaluable

2. Woman Knitting or La jeune femme à l’ouvrage.

Another canvas of Francoise Duparc, which displays a woman knitting in a peaceful posture, has left the viewers flabbergasted by the means the artist showed a resemblance of an everyday-easy chore with such delicacy. The painting shows the entirely emotional look of the lady through her simplicity. Upon looking, the definite facial expression, choice of sober colours, and innocent use of white on warmer backgrounds showed the wiseness of the artist. Again, there is a gentle fold of clothes, substantial use of saturation and light on her delicate skin, which makes this composition one apart. There is a sense of anonymity in her composition, Unlike her other artworks, she does not gazes the viewer, instead bent down towards wool resting on her lap. Francoise gave a little to minimal attention to the actual domestic interiors, as the sitter remained her main concern.

Woman Knitting or La jeune femme à l’ouvrage by Francoise Duparc
Woman Knitting or La jeune femme à l’ouvrage by Francoise Duparc | Source: Unknown Author

3. Man With a Sack and Tisane Seller.

In the compositions Man with a Sack and Tisane Seller, there are a few common characteristics by which we can trace her stylistic development. Each of them is a half-length portrait with minimal backgrounds, and the sitters gaze towards the viewer, but the gaze is not challenging, instead, it is almost as if they see through us. These portraits possess an intimate feel, but they preserve a sense of spontaneity. 

Man With a Sack Francoise Duparc
Man With a Sack by Francoise Duparc | Source: Meisterdrucke

The Tisane Seller depicts a woman in a grey dress with a white apron and blue striped scarf. Carrying an urn upon her back, she holds a tap in her right hand and cup in the left. Her head looks a little tilted as if the weight of the urn weighs her down, and the only means to her earning is selling wares on the street. With a simple yet appealing face, she stares the viewer pleasantly.

The herbal tea seller or La marchande de tisane Francoise Duparc Painting
The Tisane seller or La marchande de tisane by Francoise Duparc | Source: Via Wikimedia Commons


Unequivocally, the beautiful use of colours, radiancy, sentimental emotions and the lightness of Francoise Duparc makes her art special. It feels that Duparc was no less than the lady Vermeer. So, let us celebrate the craftsmanship and excellence of the colours through her canvases. Meanwhile, let me know which painting of her adored you much.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Who was Francoise Duparc?

Francoise Duparc was a Spanish Baroque painter brought up in France and known for her artworks portraying the everyday tasks of working-class people. She was the pupil of Jean Baptiste van Loo and mastered figure paintings, religious art, portraits, and genre paintings.

Where are Francoise Duparc’s paintings?

While most of Francoise Duparc’s art resides in the private collection of art collectors, some of her paintings are owned by different museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, France.

What type of art did Francoise Duparc make?

While Francoise had the mastery to draw figure paintings, religious art and portraits, it was the Dutch genre paintings she was known for.


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