Simon Vouet (French:[vwɛ]; 9 January 1590 – 30 June 1649) was a French painter who studied and rose to prominence in Italy before being summoned by Louis XIII to serve as Premier peintre du Roi in France. He and his studio of artists created religious and mythological paintings, portraits, frescoes, tapestries, and massive decorative schemes for the king and for wealthy patrons, including Richelieu. During this time, "Vouet was indisputably the leading artist in Paris," and was immensely influential in introducing the Italian Baroque style of painting to France. He was also "without doubt one of the outstanding seventeenth-century draughtsmen, equal to Annibale Carracci and Lanfranco."
Simon began his career as a portrait painter. At age 14 he travelled to England to paint a commissioned portrait and in 1611 was part of the entourage of the Baron de Sancy, French ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, for the same purpose. From Constantinople he went to Venice in 1612 and was in Rome by 1614.
Vouet's immense success in Rome led to his election as president of the Accademia di San Luca in 1624. His most prominent official commission of the Italian period was an altarpiece for St Peter's in Rome (1625–1626), destroyed at some time after 1725 (though fragments remain.)
Today, a number of Vouet's paintings are lost, and "only two major decorative schemes survive, those for the chateaux of Colombes and Chessy," but the details and imagery of many lost works are known from engravings by Michel Dorigny, François Tortebat, and Claude Mellan.
In 1626 he married Virginia da Vezzo, "a painter in her own right...known for her beauty,":10 who modeled as the Madonna and female saints for Vouet's religious commissions. The couple would have five children. Virginia Vouet died in France in 1638. Two years later Vouet married a French widow, Radegonde Béranger, with whom he had three more children.:13
As one art historian writes, "When Vouet returned to Paris in 1627, French art was painfully provincial and, by Italian standards, more than a quarter of a century behind the times. Vouet introduced the latest fashions, educated a group of talented young artists—and the public as well—and brought Paris up to date."
Vouet's style became uniquely his own, but was distinctly Italian, importing the Italian Baroque into France. A French contemporary, lacking the term "Baroque," said, "In his time the art of painting began to be practiced here in a nobler and more beautiful way than ever before." In his anticipation of the "two-dimensional, curvilinear freedom of rococo compositions a hundred years later...Vouet should perhaps be counted among the more important sources of eighteenth-century painting.":60 In his works for the French royal court, "Vouet's importance as a formulator of official decorations is in some ways comparable to that of Rubens.":85
Vouet's sizeable atelier or workshop produced a whole school of French painters for the following generation. His most influential pupil was Charles le Brun, who organized all the interior decorative painting at Versailles and dictated the official style at the court of Louis XIV of France, but who jealously excluded Vouet from the Académie Royale in 1648.
During his lifetime, writes Arnaud Brejon de Lavergnée, "Vouet's stature increased continually, his paintings becoming ever more beautiful, particularly in the last decade." But, "although his career was as brilliant as can be imagined," Vouet "played no role in the foundation of the Académie Royale" that was to be so dominant after his death, "and was neglected by the biographers and more influential amateurs. Between 1660 and 1690 only Poussin and Rubens were taken seriously...and later generations drew their own conclusions from this." Further eroding his legacy, "Vouet was undoubtedly at his greatest in these ensembles [his magnificent decorative schemes for chateaux and churches], most of which were destroyed during the Revolution" of the next century.
Though never entirely forgotten by connoisseurs and collectors (such as William Suida), Vouet fell into a relative obscurity that was not remedied until William R. Crelly's monograph of 1962, and then by the major retrospective of Vouet's work at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1990–1991 with its colloquium and catalogue, which Brejon de Lavergnée says fulfilled "its aim of rehabilitating the artist." "The Simon Vouet retrospective…is still vividly remembered. Since then, studies of the painter, his circle and his students have abounded, defining the image of the artist and his workshop ever more clearly."
The exhibition's organizer, Jacques Thuillier, "is surely justified in claiming the altarpiece of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple as among the greatest masterpieces of seventeenth-century monumental painting," writes Brejon de Lavergnée, who further asserts that in the artist's works of the 1640s, such as Saint Francis of Paola Resuscitating a Child, "one can see Vouet concluding his career with pictures of an immense gravity informed by an intense spiritual energy. Images of the greatesf force, these paintings constitute the apogee of French seventeenth-century painting."
Two Modelli for Altarpiece in St. Peter's (1625), LACMA
1967: Vouet to Rigaud: French Masters of the Seventeenth Century, Finch College Museum of Art, New York, 20 April 1967 – 18 June 1967.
1971: Simon Vouet 1590-1649: First Painter to the King, University of Maryland Art Gallery, College Park, MD, 18 February 1971 – 28 March 1971.
1990–1991: Vouet, Galeries Nationales of the Grand Palais, Paris, 6 November – 11 February 1991; a major retrospective of Simon Vouet's work.
1991: Simon Vouet: 100 neuentdeckte Zeichnungen, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 9 May – 30 June 1991; exhibition of 100 newly discovered drawings from the holdings of the Bavarian State Library.
2002–2003: Simon Vouet ou l'éloquence sensible, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, 5 December 2002 – 20 February 2003; exhibition of drawings from the Bavarian State Library in Munich.
Crelly's catalogue raisonné of 1962:147 lists more than 150 preserved paintings by Vouet. Since that publication, "a number of paintings, some of them of considerable importance, have turned up in various parts of the world and the list of his work continues to grow." A new catalogue raisonné, by Arnauld and Barbara Brejon de Lavergnée, is forthcoming. This is a partial list by present location, and then, as possible, by date.
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Self-Portrait is a 1626–1627 oil on canvas painting by Simon Vouet, painted during his stay in Rome as a protégé of Pope Urban VIII and cardinal del Monte, before Louis XIII recalled him to France in 1627. It may have been produced as a marriage gift to his new wife Virginia Vezzi, whom Vouet married in 1626, the same year as he began the self-portrait. It is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon.
The Hurdy-Gurdy Player is an oil on canvas painting by Georges de La Tour. The artist neither signed nor dated it, but it was produced in the first phase of his career, probably between 1620 and 1625. It is also known as The Hurdy-Gurdy Player in a Hat or The Hurdy-Gurdy Player with a Fly. It is now in the Musée d'Arts de Nantes.
1 2 Posner, Donald. "The Paintings of Simon Vouet " (book review), The Art Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Sept., 1963), pp. 286-291.
↑ Rosenberg, Pierre."Musée du Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins, Inventaire général des dessins, École française, Dessins de Simon Vouet 1590-1649 by Barbara Brejon de Lavergnée" (book review). Master Drawings, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Winter, 1987), p. 414.
↑ "The carvings on the exterior doors may derive from Simon Vouet," according to Renée Dreyfus, Legion of Honor: Selected Works, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: 2007, p. 51.
Bissell, R. Ward (2011). "Simon Vouet, Raphael, and the Accademia di San Luca in Rome." Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 32, No. 63 (2011), pp. 55-72.
Blunt, Anthony. "Some Portraits by Simon Vouet." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 88, No. 524 (Nov., 1946), pp.268+270-271+273.
Brejon de Lavergnée, Arnauld. "Four New Paintings by Simon Vouet." The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 124, No. 956 (Nov., 1982), pp. 685-689.
Brejon de Lavergnée, Arnauld. "Paris: Vouet at the Grand Palais" (review of the exhibition). The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 133, No. 1055 (Feb., 1991), pp. 136-140.
Brejon de Lavergnée, Arnauld. "Simon Vouet. Nantes and Besançon" (review of the exhibition). The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 151, No. 1272 (Mar., 2009), pp. 187-189.
Brejon de Lavergnée, Barbara. Musée du Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins, Inventaire général des dessins, École française, Dessins de Simon Vouet 1590-1649. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1987. (Comprehensive catalogue of the drawings of Vouet in the Louvre and elsewhere.)
Brejon de Lavergnée, Barbara. "New Attributions around Simon Vouet." Master Drawings, Vol. 23/24, No. 3 (1985/1986), pp. 347-351+425-432.
Brejon de Lavergnée, Barbara. "Some New Pastels by Simon Vouet: Portraits of the Court of Louis XIII." The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 124, No. 956 (Nov., 1982), pp. 688-691+693.
Crelly, William R. The Painting of Simon Vouet. Yale University Press, 1962.
Fredericksen, Burton B. "Two Newly Discovered Ceiling Paintings by Simon Vouet." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, Vol. 5 (1977), pp. 95-100.
Loire Stéphane, eitor. Simon Vouet: actes du colloque international Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 5-6-7 février 1991. Paris: Publication Information, c1992.
Loth et ses filles de Simon Vouet: Éclairages sur un chef-d'œuvre (catalogue of the exhibition). Strasbourg: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg, 2005.
Lurie, Ann Tzeutschler. "The Repentant Magdalene by Simon Vouet." The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Vol. 80, No. 4 (Apr., 1993), pp. 158-163.
Manning, Robert. "Some Important Paintings by Simon Vouet in America" in Studies in the History of Art, Dedicated to William E. Suida on His Eightieth Birthday. Kress Foundation/Phaidon Press, 1959.
Markova, Vittoria. "A New Painting by Vouet in Russia." The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 132, No. 1050 (Sept., 1990), pp. 632-633.
Posner, Donald. "The Painting of Simon Vouet " (book review). The Art Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Sept., 1963), pp. 286-291.
Rice, Louise. "Simon Vouet's Hesperus and the Mythopoetics of Praise." Studies in the History of Art, Vol. 74, Symposium Papers LI: Dialogues in Art History, from Mesopotamian to Modern: Readings for a New Century (2009), pp. 236-251.
Schleier, Erich. "A Bozzetto by Vouet, Not by Lanfranco." The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 109, No. 770 (May, 1967), pp. 272+274-276.
Schleier, Erich. "Two New Modelli for Vouet's St. Peter's Altarpiece." The Burlington Magazine Vol. 114, No. 827 (Feb., 1972), pp. 90-94.
Schleier, Erich. "Vouet's Destroyed St Peter Altar-Piece: Further Evidence." The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 110, No. 787 (Oct., 1968), pp. 572-575.
Simon Vouet: 100 neuentdeckte Zeichnungen: aus den Beständen der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek (catalogue of the exhiition). München: Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München, 1991.
Simon Vouet ou l'éloquence sensible: Dessins de la Staatsbibliothek de Munich (catalogue of the exhibition). Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux; Nantes: Musée des beaux-arts de Nantes, c. 2002.
Simon Vouet: les années italiennes, 1613-1627 (catalogue of the exhibition). Paris: Hazan; Nantes: Musée des beaux-arts; Besançon: Musée des beaux-arts et d'archéologie, 2008.
Thuillier, Jacques. Vouet: Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 6 novembre 1990-11 février 1991 (catalogue of the exhibition). Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, c. 1990.