The return of Simon Vouet (V) to France in 1627 marks a turning point in French painting. He dominated the Parisian scene. His new order attracted a number of artists from Italy to Paris and an increase in decoration of urban residences, chateaux, and churches occurred. There was an increase in religious institutions.
Parisian response to the Italian Baroque.
Vouet was settled in Rome by 1614. He held a top position among the Carravaggesque group with alter-piece paintings, genre scenes and portraits. See Marcantonio Doria. He was recalled to France by Louis XIII and appointed First Painter. Received many commissions from nobility, church and bourgeoisie.
Lyrical, light in color and large in composition. Began as a leading member in Rome of the Carravaggesque group, he later abandoned this somber manner, and developed a light elegant painting style, with generous forms, which owned much to Venice and the Bolognese.
Widely disseminated through engravings and the large number of students who passed through his studio, including Eustache Le Sueur (1616-1655) who after close adhesion to Vouet's style in his early career developed a more rational and restrained art in response to his master's "baroqueness".
R'eunion d'amis, Eustache le Sueur, circa 1640-4, Louvre, Paris.
Jacques Blanchard (1600-1638) sometimes openly rivaled Vouet. He submitted to the supremacy of Venice where he lived 1626-1628. Called the 'French Titian' for his rich coloring. Laurent de Hyre (1606-1656) did not visit Italy or pass through Vouet's studio, but did develop along similar lines, although with a more ordered sensitivity.
La Presentation au Temple
Painted circa 1640-1641, it was presented by Cardinal Richelieu in 1641 to the Parisian Jesuit seminary on Rue Saint-Antoine, which is the church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis today. An example of his successful large scale canvasas for a church, The Presentation in the Temple remains a manifesto of his tempered version of Baroque which he developed after his return from Italy.
The space is clearly defined by noble architectural perspectives with stabilize the composition with strongly vertical accents. These are however balanced by the play of diagonals converging on the Christ child. The gestures conserve the fluid movement of Roman paintings, but the firmer modeling, precise folds and cold coloring give the overall effect a new vigor. Moving away from his early Baroque thrust, Simon Vouet here shifts towards a classical the doctrine of which would soon be defined by the art of Poussin.1
Twenty five portraits, each accompanied by four allegorical medallions relating to the personality represented all painted by Vouet and Champaigne. The Gallery was fitted out between 1630-1637. See Louvre notes.
1) The Louvre. 2003.