Louis Joseph Lorrain would study to become an architect but his abilities at rendering images and his skills as a draftsman would see him work as a painter, engraver and furniture designer as well as his field of choice.
Born in Paris in 1715, he studied with painter Jacques Dumont and won the Grand Prix from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1739, and would head to Rome, where he stayed for the next eight years.
While in the city his association with other students attending the Academie de France in Rome can be seen in his work. He designed centerpieces for the annual Chinea festivals of 1745 - 1747 which worked against the heavy hands of Baroque and Rococo adornment displayed throughout this eighteenth century Roman celebration, and instead introduced some of the early examples of Neoclassicism in his contributions to the festivities.
It was this style that also drew patrons to him upon his return to France in 1747. The Comte de Caylus hired him to create engravings of ancient paintings, and also found him further work designing quadratura (illusionistic ceiling and mural paintings) columns for the country home of Count Carl Gustav Tessin. This work took him to Sweden in 1754.
The next few years saw Lorrain assisting his friend Julien David Le Roy with the preparation of drawing and engravings for his book on the ruins of Greece, which was printed in 1758. At some point during this period Lorrain traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia and died in the spring of 1759.
He is known as one of the earliest painters working in the neoclassic style, and also in decorative "trompe l'oeil" painting. His works are in several major museums, including the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Royal Academy in London and the Musee des Augustins in France.