Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg was an English artist of French origin.
He was born in Strasbourg where his father, the representative of a Swiss family, practised miniature painting. However, De Loutherbourg spent the greater part of his life in London, where he was naturalised. He was educated at the University of Strasbourg.
He insisted on being a painter and placed himself under Charles-André van Loo (1705-1765) in Paris. The result was an immediate and precocious development of his abilities. De Loutherbourg became a figure in the fashionable society of his time. In 1767 he was elected a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture although he was not old enough according to the rules of the institution. De Loutherbourg painted landscapes, sea storms, battles, which were all very successful.
De Loutherbourg then travelled to Switzerland, Germany and Italy, celebrated for his paintings as well as for his mechanical inventions. In 1771 De Loutherbourg came to London and was employed by David Garrick (1717-1779), who offered him £500 a year to work at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane inventing mechanical devices and painting sets. Garrick’s own play, the Christmas Tale, introduced the novelties to the public, and the delight not only of the masses but also of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) and the artists was unbounded. At the same time De Loutherbourg was commissioned large naval pictures to commemorate British victories (National Maritime Museum, London).
De Loutherbourg became a member of the Royal Academy in 1781. Shortly after, he decided to travel with the Count Alessandro di Cagliostro (1743-1795). In his final years, De Loutherbourg took interest in faith healing and the philisopher’s stone.
De Loutherbourg died in 1812.