Tucked away in the Paris neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, an enclave of Dutch Protestant refugees, Louise Moillon was raised by a family of painters. Her father was an artist who specialized in oil painting, and after his death when Louise was ten, her mother remarried to an art dealer. Along with her brother Isaac, also painted young Louise learned the techniques and subject matter of the Dutch still life masters.
And Louise Moillon found success, quickly. By 20, Moillon had found her stride, bringing the quiet Protestant formality of still life to Paris, with a new thematic addition: many of her still lifes include a human figure. Blurring the lines between genres was a bold move, earning Moillon the patronage of King Charles I of England and members of the French nobility. Unfortunately, as was expected of a Christian wife of the time, her painting slowed after her marriage to the merchant Etienne Girardot de Chancourt, in 1640.
Moillon was 75 years old when Louis XIV of France wrote the Edict of Fontainebleau, revoking a previous edict that held an uneasy peace between the state religion, Catholicism, and practicing Protestants. Immediate and extreme persecution of Protestants swept through France. Moillon’s husband was imprisoned for his faith, and one of her children sent to a convent to be forcibly converted to Catholicism, and two more of her children fled the country. It is unknown if she professed her Prostestant faith through these troubled years, but when she died in 1696 she was given a Catholic burial, leaving approximately forty paintings, examples of her quietly sultry paintings.
Reed Enger, "Louise Moillon, Subtle, sultry peaches," in Obelisk Art History, Published August 17, 2018; last modified November 06, 2022, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/louise-moillon/.