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Hilaire Ledru

1769 Opi – 1840 Paris

Hilaire Ledru, who came from a village near Douai in northern France and was trained as an artist in Paris, was a sought-after portraitist during the period of the Directory. Especially popular were his "pointillé" portrait drawings, whose technical refinement was in keeping with the prevailing taste of the time. Ledru was a close friend of another gifted chroniqueur of Parisian society, the brilliant draughtsman Louis Leopold Boilly, who was roughly the same age and also hailed from the north of France. Their careers had much in common. Both artists made their living with small-format portraits and worked under difficult conditions amid the envy and rivalries of the French capital’s art scene. But while Boilly at least had the satisfaction of being awarded the Legion of Honour in 1833, Hilaire Ledru died destitute and forgotten.