Born to artist parents, Nattier was an accomplished court portraitist in France, working also with mythological and historical subjects. His father, Marc Nattier (1642 – 1705) was a portrait painter and his mother Marie Courtois (1655 – 1703) painted as a miniaturist. His uncle, Jean Jouvenet, was a painter of history scenes and trained Nattier in that skill. His brother, Jean Baptiste (1678 – 1726) was also a painter, but it is noted that he committed suicide in his expulsion from a French Academy (Kren and Marx, Web Gallery of Art).
Nattier studied French and Flemish artists, such as Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640), housed in La Galerie du Palais du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gallery). With this and training from his father and uncle he became an award-winning artist. He became well know for depicting his woman subjects in portraits as mythological goddesses. Examples of such can be seen in the Uffizi Gallery in his works, Henriette of France as Flora and, Marie Adelaide of France as Diana. Henriette (1727 – 1752) was the first daughter of King Louis XV and Queen Maria Leczinska of France and Marie Adelaide (1732 – 1800) their third. Both portraits show near perfect depictions of his subjects’ likeness, while still rendering a mythological ambience in the work. He also completed more straight-forward portraits of the Queen of France, Maria Leczinska.
Nattier rose to prominence after executing engravings of Peter Paul Rebuns’, Marie de Medicis Cycle, and also in painting portraits of Peter the Great, The Russian Tsar (1672 – 1725) and his wife the Empress Catherine (1684 – 1727) in Amsterdam (Encyclopedia Britannica). He was also commissioned by Peter the Great to paint historical works such as, Battle of Pultawa and The Battle of Lesnaya.
He painted many portraits, another of which is in the Uffizi Gallery; Marie Zephirine of France, a granddaughter of King Louis XV, who died at only five years old. Nattier was an official portraitist for the King’s daughters and their children.