Etienne AUBRY (Versailles, 1745 - Versailles, 1781)
One of the most interesting and talented painters working in France in the latter half of the 18th century, Etienne Aubry began his artistic training with Jacques Augustin de Silvestre, maître a dessiner des enfants de France, and later studied with Joseph Marie Vien. In the early years of his career, Aubry worked almost exclusively as a portrait painter, and as such was agréé at the Academie Royale in 1771. He made his debut at the Salon the same year, exhibiting four portraits. His work as a portraitist gradually gave way to an interest in genre painting in the moralizing manner of Jean-Baptiste Greuze, resulting in such works as the Paternal Love in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham. In fact, after exhibiting only portraits at the Salons of 1771 and 1773, in 1775 he submitted just one portrait, together with a number of genre scenes, and in 1777 and 1779 showed no portraits at all. Late in his career, Aubry determined to make his name as a history painter. He travelled to Rome in 1777 under the auspices of the Comte d'Angivillier, directeur des bâtiments du roi and his most important patron. His history pictures did not, however, meet with much success, and in 1780 Aubry returned to France where he died the following year. His final attempt at the grand manner, Coriolanus Bidding Farewell to his Troops, was exhibited posthumously at the Salon of 1781.