Jaques Augustin-Catherine Pajou

Jaques Augustin Pajou, Academic Male Study, 1785, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 82 cm, Private Collection

Insert: Jaques Augustin Pajou, “Academic Male Study”, 1787, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 82 cm, Private Collection

The son of famous sculptor Augustin Pajou, Jacques-Augustin-Catherine Pajou was born in August of 1766 in Paris, France. He was a historical and portrait painter in the Classical style, with the emphasis on form, simplicity, proportion and the clarity of formal structure. In 1784, Pajou became a student at Paris’ Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. 

In 1792, accompanied with painter Louis-François Lejeune and economist Jean-Baptiste Say, Jacques Pajou became a member of the Compagnie des Arts de Paris. This military unit of the French Revolutionary Wars, organized by the Louvre, consisted of students of literature, the arts, and sciences, particularly from the École des Beaux-Arts and the École de Droit. Pajou, during this period, was stationed in Sedan, an administrative district in north-east France.

After demobilization, Jacques Pajou was a member of the General Arts Community of Paris, a revolutionary institution, founded by painters Jacques-Louis David and Jean ll Restout, to replace the Royal Academy. This movement succeeded in abolishing the Academy in September of 1793 during the French Revolution, burning paintings and books. It was later restored as a division of the Institute of France in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte.. Jacques Pajou served as Secretary for the General Arts Community’s president, painter Joseph-Marie Vien. 

Under the First French Empire, ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte, Jacques Pajou was commissioned to paint a portrait of Louis-Alexandre Berthier, Marshal and chief of staff to Napoleon, which is now on view at Versailles. In 1812, Pajou was awarded a gold medal for his depiction of Napoleon offering clemency to the Royalists who had taken refuge in Spain. In 1814, he painted three tableaux, displayed at the Paris Salon, which celebrated the Bourbon Restoration, the period in France following the first fall of Napoleon and the restoration of a conservative government under Louis XVII and Charles X.

Citing poor health, Jacques-Augustin-Catherine Pajou resigned in 1823 from most of the associations of which he was a member. After experiencing increasing poor health and a year of continual tremors, Pajou died in November of 1828, while residing in Paris. His body was interred at the Père-Lachaise Cemetery. 

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