He was born Jacint Rigau i Ros -- though in many encyclopaedias is "re-christened" with the name of Híacint Francesc Honrat Mathias Pere Martyr Andreu Joan Rigau -- in Perpignan, which became French (Treaty of the Pyrenees) a short time after his birth (November 7 1659).
In 1682, he was awarded the Prix de Rome.
He was the most important portrait painter in the reign of King Louis XIV. His instinct for impressive poses and grand presentations precisely suited the tastes of the royal personages, ambassadors, clerics, courtiers, and financiers who sat for him.
Because Rigaud's paintings captured very exact likenesses along with the subject's costumes and background details, his paintings are considered precise records of contemporary fashions. Rigaud was a master of the Baroque style of art. Rigaud's best-known work is his 1701 painting of Louis XIV which today hangs in the Louvre in Paris, as well as the second copy also requested by Louis XIV which is now at Versailles.
In 1709 he was made a noble by his hometown of Perpignan. In 1727 he was made a knight of the Order of Saint Michael.