Maurice Quentin de la Tour (1704-1788) was a French portrait painter. His self portraits often showed himself confident and smiling, radiating charm and equanimity.
His compositions were remarkably simple, with soft frontal lighting, serene colors, and well crafted surfaces. No one had painted such lifelike portraits in pastel before.
He was known for working quickly, never tiring his models, and charging reasonable prices. In 1750 he was appointed as the royal painter to King Louis XV.
More and more he painted the most exclusive society set in Paris. His prices went up and he became capricious and whimsical, refusing to paint anyone who didn't please him.
He became more and more eccentric in dealing with his models, insisting on never being interrupted—not even by the king himself, and requiring his models to be precisely punctual. He demanded absolute control over lighting, costume, and pose. If the sitter disobeyed, he would punish them by leaving the portrait unfinished.
By 1766 he began the regrettable practice of retouching and sometimes ruining his earlier works, and in his later years he suffered a nervous breakdown and mental illness. But his loyal brother stuck with him and took care of him until the end.