Jean-Baptiste Oudry (17 March 1686, Paris - 30 April 1755, Beauvais) was a French Rococo painter, engraver and tapestry designer. He is particularly well known for his images of animals and his hunt pieces depicting game.
Oudry was the son of Jacques Oudry, a painter and art dealer in Paris, and of his wife Nicole Papillon, who belonged to the family of the engraver Jean-Baptist-Michel Papillon.
His father was a director of the Académie de St-Luc art school, which Oudry joined. At first, Oudry concentrated on portraiture, and he became a pupil of Nicolas de Largillière. Aged only 22, he graduated on 21 May 1708, at the same time as his two older brothers, and he married Marie-Marguerite Froissé in 1709. She was the daughter of a miroitier (a mirror-maker); he gave her lessons in painting.
Oudry became an assistant professor at the Académie de St-Luc in 1714, and professor on 1 July 1717. He became a member of the prestigious Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1719, and a professor there in 1743.
After producing mainly portraits, Oudry started to produce still life paintings of fruits or animals, and paintings of religious subjects, such as as a Nativity, Saint Gilles, and the Adoration of the Magi.
Through his friend, Jean-Baptiste Massé, a portrait-painter and miniaturist, Oudry was introduced to the marquis de Beringhem, hereditary master of the royal stables, for whom he painted a pair of paintings in 1727. Through this connection, he was commissioned to produce numerous works for the King, who was passionate about the hunt and appointed Oudry Painter-in-Ordinary of the Royal Hunt, in which capacity he produced portraits of dead game, the day's kill. Oudry was granted a workshop in the Tuileries and an apartment in the Louvre.
M. Hultz, an adviser to the Académie de Peinture, commissioned Oudry to produce a buffet, or still-life combining silver plates and ewers, fruit and game; the work was exhibited in the Salon of 1737. Oudry timidly asked for ten pistoles for his work, but Hultz valued it much higher, insisting on paying twenty-five. Oudry was also commissioned to produce a buffet for Louis XV (exhibited in the Salon of 1743), that went to the château de Choisy, the King's favoured hunting residence.
M. Hultz recommended Oudry to Louis Fagon (1680-1744), an intendant des finances and book collector, and Oudry decorated his houses in Vauré and Fontenay-aux-Roses with arabesques, flowers and birds. Fago was charged with reviving the fortunes of the tapestry manufactory of Beauvais, which had flourished under Colbert, and he gave the task to Oudry and his associate, Besnier, in 1734. He succeeded in this task, becoming very wealthy in the process. His success at Beauvais led to a further appointment as inspector at the Gobelins manufactory in 1736, where his works were copied as cartoons for tapestries. Through most of the 1730s, he concentrated mainly on producing designs for tapestries.
He used a camera obscura in an attempt to speed up the process of producing landscapes, but abandoned the attempt when he saw that the perspective and the effects of light and shade did not appear correct.
Although Oudry produced excellent scenes of animals and of hunting, he also painted portraits, histories, landscapes, fruits and flowers; he imitated bas reliefs in monotone tints called en camaïeu, used pastels, and created etchings. He was often sent examples of rare birds to draw.
He turned down offers to work for the Czar and the King of Denmark, preferring to remain in France.
He lost some of his responsibilities when Fagon was replaced by de Trudaine. He suffered two apoplectic attacks, one shortly after the other. His second left him paralysed, and he died shortly afterwards. He was buried in the church of Saint Thomas in Beauvais, which was demolished in 1795. His epitaph from the church was lost when it was demolished, but was later found and placed in the church of Saint Etienne.
His son, Jacques-Charles Oudry, was also a painter.