The collection of French masters from the 17th and 18th centuries is one of the most important of its kind in German museums today. The Baden margravine Karoline Luise’s collection also provided an important foundation for this part of the collection. Visitors can see examples of nearly every development in French painting from these two centuries in Karlsruhe.
Examples from Karoline Luise’s collection include four masterful early still lifes by Jean Siméon Chardin (all around 1728), numerous fruit and hunting still lifes by Nicolas de Largillierre, François Desports and Henri Horace Roland de la Porte, a self-portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud, landscapes by Jean Pillement, two pastoral scenes by François Boucher, two mythological nudes by Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre and two fanciful, exotic genre paintings with Turks by Claude Joseph Vernet.
Since 1960, lottery funding for the arts in the state of Baden-Württemberg has made it possible to expand an already very impressive permanent collection, rounding it out with acquisitions and providing new accents with several major works. Examples include Nicolas Poussin’s The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist (ca. 1628/29) and Claude Lorrain’s large-scale painting The Adoration of the Golden Calf (1653).
In contrast to both of these painters who worked in Italy, many French painters from the 17th and 18th centuries looked to Dutch and Flemish art for inspiration. Frans Pourbus, recognized above all for his portraits (including those of the French king Louis XIII and his sister Elisabeth, from 1616), Nicolas de Largillierre (Portrait of a Young Nobleman in Hunting Costume, 1730), as well as the still life painter Jean Michel Picart (Bouquet on a Parapet) all came from Flanders and accordingly bore a strong Flemish influence. Louise Moillon (Basket with Peaches and Grapes, 1631) looked towards Netherlandish role models like Antoine Le Nain (Preparation for Dance, 1643) and Marguérite Gérard (Sleep, My Child, 1788). The late 18th century is represented by important portraits by Pierre Paul Prud’hon, Jean-Simon Berthélemy and François-André Vincent, as well as by the Parisian city-scape The Collapse of Houses on the Notre-Dame Bridge 1786/87 by Hubert Robert.