The Life Class at the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture
Natoire was a professor at the Royal Academy in Paris. In this drawing, he depicts himself in a red cloak correcting a pupil’s sketch. Other students are drawing from the two life models posed on the table in the centre. The paintings on the walls and casts of antique statues, including the Farnese Hercules seen from the back at left, serve as time-honoured prototypes. The lessons students learnt from drawing after the Antique and other masters would hone new skills and lead to their own creations.
Natoire kept this ambitious and elaborately finished work until his death, suggesting that he considered it a personal manifesto on the importance of academic drawing and his role as a teacher.