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Vouet Simon

Vouet Simon (15901649)

Simon Vouet was a French painter and draftsman, who helped introduce the Italian Baroque >France.

His father Laurent was also a painter and taught him the rudiments of art - Simon's brother Aubin Vouet (1595-1641) was also a painter, whilst his wife Virginia da Vezzo modelled for Simon's virgins and Madonnas. Simon began his painting career as a portraitist. He then travelled to England and was part of the entourage of the baron de Sancy, French ambassador to Constantinople. He then spent a long stay in Italy from 1613 to 1627. His time was mostly spent in Rome (where the Baroque >Venice, Bologna (where the Carracci family had their academy), Genoa (where, from 1620 to 1622, he worked for the Doria princes) and Naples. He was a natural academic, who studied and absorbed everything in his environment and distilled them: Caravaggio's dramatic lighting, Italian Mannerism, Paolo Veronese's color, and the art of the Carracci, Guercino, and Guido Reni. Vouet's immense success in Rome meant that he became president of the Accademia di San Luca in 1624.

Simon Vouet suddenly came back to France in 1627, following pressing recommendations from the duc de Béthunes and a summons from Louis XIII. 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," and the allegory of "Riches" (illustration, left) demonstrates a new heroic sense of volumes, a breadth and confidence without decorative mannerisms. Vouet's new >France. He adapted this style to the grand decorative scheme of the era of Louis XIII and Richelieu and was made premier peintre du Roi. Louis XIII commissioned portraits, tapistery cartoons and paintings from him for the Palais du Louvre, the Palais du Luxembourg and the château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. In 1632, he worked for the cardinal de Richelieu at the Palais-Royal and the château de Malmaison. In 1631 he also decorated the château of the président de Fourcy, at Chessy, the hôtel Bullion, the château of marshal d Effiat at Chilly, the hôtel of the duc dAumont, the Séguier chapel, and the gallery of the château de Wideville.

In Paris, Vouet was the fresh dominating force, painting public altarpieces and allegorical decors for private patrons. Vouet's atelier produced a whole school of French painters for the following generation, and through Vouet French Baroque painting retained a classicizing restraint from the outset. Compare French Baroque artists Philippe de Champaigne, Nicolas Poussin and above all, Charles le Brun, his most influential pupil, who organized all the interior decorative painting at Versailles and dictated official >France, but who jealously excluded Vouet from the Académie Royale in 1648. Vouet's other students included Valentin de Boulogne (the main figure of the French "Caravaggisti"), Pierre Mignard, Eustache Le Sueur, Nicolas Chaperon, Claude Mellan and the Flemish artist Abraham Willaerts. Vouet was also a friend of Claude Vignon.

Ghana, 2004, Anne of Austria as Minerva

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