Jean-Baptiste Wicar

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Jean-Baptiste Wicar
Jean-Baptiste Wicar.png
Self-Portrait by Jean-Baptiste Wicar, 1796
Born22 January 1762
Died27 February 1834
Known forPainting

Jean-Baptiste Wicar (22 January 1762 – 27 February 1834) was a French Neoclassical painter and art collector.


The son of a carpenter, Wicar was born in Lille, he studied drawing at the free school in Lille before further honing his talents in the studio of David. The drawings Wicar created of Tableaux, statues, bas-reliefs et camées de la Galerie de Florence et du palais Pitti (Paintings, statues, bas-reliefs and cameos in the Gallery of Florence and the Pitti Palace) were published in Paris in 4 volumes at the Lacombe publishing house from 1789 to 1807.

Wicar headed the commission set up to loot artworks from the Austrian Netherlands to enrich museums in France. An initial convoy left Antwerp on 11 August 1794, notably with paintings by Rubens, for the Louvre. Abbeys and castles were systematically emptied of their contents, furniture and works of art. Wicar was also a member of the commission des sciences et des arts on the Italian campaign, in the entourage of Bonaparte; this commission was charged with seizing artworks that could enrich French national museum collections. He finally permanently settled in Rome in 1800 and became a portraitist of European renown.

On his death in Rome in 1834, Wicar left the major collection of 1,300 drawings he had accumulated over his lifetime to the Société des Sciences, de l’Agriculture et des Arts de Lille. Mostly from the Italian school, but also in some small measure from the northern schools, it held drawings by artists like Raphael, Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Nicolas Poussin and Jacques-Louis David; this legacy initially formed the public "musée Wicar", which in 1866 merged into the Palais des beaux-arts de Lille.

Among his pupils was Francesco Giangiacomo.


Portrait of Julia Bonaparte and her daughters, by J.-B. Wicar (1815)
Carlotta Bonaparte principessa Gabrielli, by J.-B. Wicar (1815)


  • Fernand Beaucamp : Le peintre lillois Jean Baptiste Wicar (1762 1834) son oeuvre et son temps (Lille, 1939, 2 vols).
  • Maria Teresa Caracciolo et Gennaro Toscano : Jean-Baptiste Wicar et son temps 1762-1834 (Villeneuve d’Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2007).

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