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Coypel was born in Paris, the son of an unsuccessful artist. Having been employed by Charles Errard to paint some of the pictures required for the Louvre, and having afterwards gained considerable fame by other pictures produced at the command of the king, in 1672 he was appointed director of the French Academy at Rome. After four years he returned to France; and not long after he became director of the Academy of Painting. The Martyrdom of St James in Nôtre Dame is perhaps his finest work. Coypel was a pupil of Noël Quillerier.