Simon Vouet

Born: January 9, 1590  - Death: June 30, 1649    Located in: The Caravaggio Room

Vouet was the French painter and draftsman who helped introduce the Italian Baroque style to 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," and his allegory of "Riches" demonstrates a new heroic sense of volumes, a breadth and confidence without decorative mannerisms. Vouet's new style was distinctly Italian, after his years of study in Italy, between 1613 and 1627, mostly in Rome where the Baroque style was originating in these years, but he also visited Venice, Genoa, Naples and Bologna, where the Carracci family of painters had their, Incamminati or Academy of Desiderosi, (Desirous of fame and learning).

Vouet was a natural academic, who studied and absorbed everything in his environment and distilled them, including Caravaggio’s dramatic lighting, Italian Mannerism, Paolo Veronese's color, and the art of the Carracci, as well as Guercino, and Guido Reni. He was a famous and respected artist, honored as president of Rome's Accademia di Sa Luca, when Louis XIII called him to France.

In Paris, Vouet was the fresh dominating force, painting public altarpieces and allegorical decors for private patrons. Vouet's atelier produced an entire school of French painting in the succeeding 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 in Versailles and dictated official style at the court of Louis XIV of 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.

His work in the Uffizi Gallery is a brilliantly colorful painting, Annunciation.

(This text is taken from the entry on Simon Vouet, available under GNU Free Documentation license.)

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