Author of the painting: Nicolas de Largillierre

Paris, France, November 21, 1694-Paris, France, May 30, 1778

François-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire, was a writer, philosopher, historian, lawyer and one of the greatest representatives of the Enlightenment in France. He wrote poetry, plays, philosophical works and works on history.

He studied at a Jesuit institution and his godfather introduced him to the libertine thought. He decided to be a writer against parental wishes, but still studied law while writing essays and studies on history. His writings caused him many problems with society and the authorities of the eighteenth century, Voltaire criticized the dogmas of the Catholic Church and was an advocate of the separation of state and religion.

In 1717 he was detained eleven months in the Bastille for his satire against the regent of Orleans and his daughter. His first literary success was Oedipus in 1718 and then published a series of tragedies that included Mariamne (1724) in which he focused the results in the character of the main characters. In 1723 he produced the epic poem The Henriade, one of the most successful poems and that earned him recognition as a poet and playwright.

Artist: Maurice Quentin de La Tour

Artist: Maurice Quentin de La Tour

After a period in exile he published the Lettres philosophiques in 1734 (Letters Concerning the English Nation), a work that provoked outrage and angered the church and the government, so he had to flee to England. Over time, he improved his relations with the authority for which was appointed royal historiographer in 1745 and a year later became a member of the French Academy. In 1759 he published the satirical novel Candide or optimism, one of his most famous works. His philosophical work also includes Micromegas and Dictionnaire Philosophique.

By 1778 Voltaire returned to Paris in the middle of recognition from society, who cataloged him as one of the greatest writers. Voltaire has gone down in history as one of the greatest literary geniuses and was the leading poet and dramatist in the period in which he lived. He is remembered for his wit, his attachment to religious tolerance and the subsequent controversy that surrounded his life.