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Pierre Crozat, portrait by Rosalba Carriera

Pierre Crozat (1665–1740) was a French art collector at the center of a broad circle of cognoscenti; he was the brother of Antoine Crozat.

The brothers Crozat were born in Toulouse, France, the sons of modest merchants. He and his brother Antoine were opportunistic, self-made men, rising from obscurity to become two of the wealthiest merchants in France. Pierre was known as Crozat le pauvre, to distinguish him from his even-wealthier brother.

Pierre Crozat was one of the most prominent French financiers and collectors, becoming the treasurer to the king in Paris in 1704, when he built the Hôtel de Crozat on the rue de Richelieu and began gradually acquiring a notable collection of paintings, old master drawings, and objets d'art.[1] He was the principal patron of Antoine Watteau, who painted for his dining room, a suite of Four Seasons, and of other early Rococo artists. Pierre Crozat's collection of old master drawings was already one of the most important in France at the beginning of the 18th century.[2]

From 1714 until the purchase was finally concluded in 1721, he worked as agent and negotiator for the Regent, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, on the purchase in Rome of the art collection of Queen Christina of Sweden for the Orleans Collection.

Between 1729 and 1742, a finely-illustrated, two-volume work was published, known as the Cabinet Crozat, (also known as "Recueil Crozat") including some of the finest paintings in French collections.[3] Many of his old master drawings, catalogued by Pierre-Jean Mariette, one of the four acknowledged expert connoisseurs in Paris, were dispersed at auction in Paris in 1741.[4] That occasion was termed by Michael Jaffé as "the greatest public sale of drawings held in the dix-huitième."[5]

Most of Crozat's treasures were inherited by his nephews, Louis François (d. 1750), Joseph Antoine (d. 1750), and Louis Antoine (d. 1770), who added to the collection. The works of art were dispersed after the nephews' deaths. Louis Antoine Crozat's collection was bought in 1772, through Denis Diderot, by Catherine II of Russia and went to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.[6]

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  1. ^ Leclair, Anne (1996). "Crozat family", vol. 8. pp. 208–210, in The Dictionary of Art (34 vols.), edited by Jane Turner. New York: Grove. ISBN 9781884446009. Also at Oxford Art Online, subscription required.
  2. ^ Cordélia Hattori, "The drawings collection of Pierre Crozat (1665-1740)", in Christopher Baker, Caroline Elam, Genevieve Warwick, eds. Collecting prints and drawings in Europe, c. 1500-1750, 2003.
  3. ^ Benedict Leca, "An Art Book and Its Viewers: The "Recueil Crozat" and the Uses of Reproductive Engraving", Eighteenth-Century Studies 38.4 (Summer 2005:623-649).
  4. ^ "Pierre Crozat (Biographical details)". British Museum. Retrieved 2017-01-22. Art collector, who formed a famous collection of drawings, auctioned after his death in 1741 with a catalogue by P.J.Mariette. He also collected many other types of object, paintings, sculpture, intaglios and so forth.
  5. ^ Jaffé, "Two Rediscovered Antwerp Drawings from Crozat's Collection", Master Drawings, 32.1 (Spring 1994):54-59) p. 54. Jaffé notes (pp 54, 56) the other three eminent experts as Gabriel Huquier, Edme-François Gersaint and François-Charles Joullain
  6. ^ "The Acquisition of Baron Pierre Crozat's Collection". Hermitage Museum. Retrieved 2017-01-21.

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