Petitot, Jean

Petitot, Jean an eminent French painter in enamel, is noted especially as a Huguenot who spurned all efforts for his conversion, and, notwithstanding the personal intercession for his recall to Romanism on the part of king Louis XIV, died as he lived, a pious Protestant. Petitot was the son of a sculptor and architect, and was born at Geneva in 1607. Being designed for the trade of a jeweller, he was placed under the direction of Bordier, and in this occupation was engaged in the preparation of enamels for the jewelry business. He was so successful in the production of colors that he was advised by Bordier to attempt portraits. They conjointly made several trials, and though they still wanted many colors which they knew not how to prepare for the fire, their attempts had great success. After some time they went to Italy, where they consulted the most eminent chemists. and made considerable progress in their art, but it was in England, whither they removed after a few years, that they perfected it. In London they became acquainted with Sir Theodore Mayern, first physician to Charles I, and an intelligent chemist, who had by his experiments discovered the principal colors proper to be used in enamel, and the means of vitrifying them, so that they surpassed the boasted enamelling of Venice and Limoges. Petitot was introduced by Mayern to the king, who retained him in his service and gave him apartments in Whitehall. He painted the portraits of Charles and the royal family several times, and copied many pictures, after Vandyck, which are considered his finest works. That painter greatly assisted him by his advice, and the king frequently went to see him paint. On the death of Charles, Petitot retired to France with the exiled family. He was greatly noticed by Charles II, who introduced him to Louis XIV. Louis appointed him his painter in enamel, and granted him a pension and apartments in the Louvre. He painted the French king many times, and, among a vast number of portraits, those of the queens Anne of Austria and Maria Theresa. He also occupied himself in making copies from the most celebrated pictures of Mignard and Lebrun. Petitot, dreading the effects of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, solicited leave, but for a long time in vain, to return to Geneva. Finally the king, determined to save his painter, employed Bossuet to endeavor to convert him to Romanism; in this effort, however, that eloquent prelate was wholly unsuccessful. At length Louis permitted him to depart, and, leaving his wife and children in Paris, Petitot proceeded to his native place, where he was soon after joined by his family. Arrived now at eighty years of age, he was sought by such numbers of friends and admirers that he was forced to remove from Geneva, and retire to Vevay, a small town in the canton of Vaud, where he continued to labor till 1691, in which year, while painting a portrait of his wife, he was suddenly attacked by apoplexy, of which he died. For his works of art, see Spooner, Biog. Hist. of the Fine Arts, s.v.

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