In his lifetime, Jean-Baptiste Pillement was famous for Rococo landscapes and Asian-inspired subjects. He specialized in romanticized scenes of the Near- and Far East, popular throughout Europe in the 1700s. Although Pillement traveled extensively, he never ventured to the "Orient"--a region of the world that nevertheless inspired his art.
Raised in Lyon, Pillement trained with a local artist before venturing to Paris. There, he worked briefly at the Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory and was exposed to the Rococo style exemplified by the painters Jean-Antoine Watteau and François Boucher. In 1745 he left for Madrid, one of many cities he would call home. He lived in London for ten years, exploiting the English taste for fanciful landscapes and Rococo patterns that were widely used by textile designers. He traveled to Austria, Germany, Poland, and Portugal, solidifying his reputation as a prolific printmaker and interior designer. Pillement served as a court painter to Marie-Antoinette at Versailles. Working at the height of the European vogue for chinoiserie--a style in which Westerners employed exotic Chinese forms combined with European motifs--his invented scenes were often translated into designs for wallpaper, textiles, and porcelain.