Charles-Nicolas Cochin, a draftsman and critic, was one of the primary tastemakers in France during the 1700s. In addition to creating independent drawings, he produced numerous designs for paintings and sculptures, and illustrated more than two hundred books. Natural talent and academic training prepared him for success, while the connections of his parents, both of whom were engravers, insured that he would achieve a prominent position in the French court.
In 1737 Cochin was employed by an agency of King Louis XV to create commemorative prints for every birth, marriage, and funeral at court. Following a two-year trip to Italy, he was made curator of the royal drawings collection, and given lodgings in the Louvre. He was also the King's administrator of the arts from 1755 until 1770, and was responsible for assigning pensions, commissions, and placements to artists. He also established programs for the decoration of the royal chateaux.
Cochin considered himself an educator and in his writing he was especially critical of the prevailing Rococo style. He advocated technical precision and the skilled selection of elements from nature. After 1773, Cochin's views fell out of favor with the court, and his later years were marked by financial struggle.