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Simon Vouet

(1590–1649, Paris)

Simon Vouet is without a doubt the most important and versatile artistic personality that France produced during the reign of Louis XIII. Talented from an early age, educated and equipped with a natural sense of purpose, he painted with effortless virtuosity and remarkable powers of comprehension, creating a considerable œuvre that reflected the main artistic currents of his time. Vouet spent thirteen years – from 1614 to 1627 – in Rome, where such illustrious personalities as Cardinal Maffeo Barberini – later Pope Urban VIII – and wealthy aristocratic families like the Giustiniani, Orsini and Doria were among his patrons. In Rome he was exposed to Caravaggism and influenced by the achievements of the northern European landscape and genre painters resident there. At the same time he engaged in an intensive study of the works of such renowned predecessors and contemporaries as Annibale Carracci, Guercino, and Guido Reni, finally managing to transform all these influences into a highly suggestive stylistic idiom of his own.