Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio. By Annick Lemoine and Keith Christiansen

Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio. By Annick Lemoine and Keith Christiansen 104 REVIEWS complex and not a little enigmatic author, who fully reflected and responded to the values of the emerging civic society to which he belonged. JAN CLARKE doi:10.1093/fs/knx279 DURHAM UNIVERSITY with contributions by PATRIZIA CAVAZZINI,JEAN-PIERRE CUZIN, and GIANNI PAPI. London: Yale University Press, 2016. 288 pp., ill. This is the sumptuously illustrated catalogue of the exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Muse´e du Louvre in winter 2016. The exhibition sought to rectify the ‘distorting effects’ (p. vii) of a legacy that has been largely eclipsed by Caravaggio and obscured by the details of Valentin’s enigmatic life. The six essays and fifty expertly written catalogue entries work together to re-present Valentin as an artist whose work transcends its obvious stylistic debt to Caravaggio’s tenebrism, and whose paintings conveyed a ‘radi- cal statement of realism’ (p. 44) centuries prior to the revolution initiated by Courbet. There are three primary themes that appear to inform the catalogue as a whole. The first of these concerns Valentin’s biography and the cultural milieu of early modern Rome. Unlike his French contemporary, Simon Vouet, who was named director of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1624, Valentin traversed the seedier parts of the city’s art scene. He was a member of the Bentvueghels [Birds of a Feather], an artists’ associa- tion, dedicated to Bacchus, whose members celebrated the creative impulse through in- ebriation. The essays in the catalogue work to combat the reductionist view of the artist as an unfortunate bohemian. Significantly, Patrizia Cavazzini establishes for the first time a concrete date for Valentin’s early presence in Rome with the publication of a court docu- ment, dated 2 May 1614, that attests to an assault involving ‘Valentino del Bologna’ (p. 239). Cavazzini successfully resituates Valentin’s artistic ascent within the Roman sub- culture of reckless and itinerant painters. As such, her essay legitimizes the larger claim that many of Valentin’s subjects were plucked from his everyday life — a life that was punctuated by the unruly behaviour of his peers. The second theme of the catalogue is Valentin’s role as the principal proponent of pittura dal naturale [painting from life] in the decades following Caravaggio’s death. Although it has long been acknowledged that Valentin, like Caravaggio, painted directly from the posed model, Keith Christiansen sug- gests that Valentin combined Caravaggio’s methodology with Venetian pictorial traditions in order to produce paintings with an unprecedented immediacy and deep emotional effect. Adding to this discussion, Gianni Papi shows that Valentin relied on Cecco del Caravaggio and Jusepe de Ribera for intellectual (and not just stylistic) inspiration. Finally, the authors of the catalogue seek to better understand Valentin’s cultural identity as a forest- iere [foreigner], and essays by Annick Lemoine and Jean-Pierre Cuzin reveal an artist who has occupied a central, if under-studied, role in both Roman and French histories of art. And yet the assertion implied by the title of the show and catalogue — namely that Valentin’s paintings go beyond the art of Caravaggio — is not entirely proven by the incisive essays and entries. If the authors deploy ‘dal naturale’ too readily in answer to this question of artistic transcendence, readers will nevertheless find in this catalogue a substantive and evocative re-assessment of one of the most important painters of the seventeenth century. ERIN E. BENAY doi:10.1093/fs/knx216 CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/fs/article-abstract/72/1/104/4372416 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png French Studies Oxford University Press

Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio. By Annick Lemoine and Keith Christiansen

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for French Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
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0016-1128
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1468-2931
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10.1093/fs/knx216
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Abstract

104 REVIEWS complex and not a little enigmatic author, who fully reflected and responded to the values of the emerging civic society to which he belonged. JAN CLARKE doi:10.1093/fs/knx279 DURHAM UNIVERSITY with contributions by PATRIZIA CAVAZZINI,JEAN-PIERRE CUZIN, and GIANNI PAPI. London: Yale University Press, 2016. 288 pp., ill. This is the sumptuously illustrated catalogue of the exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Muse´e du Louvre in winter 2016. The exhibition sought to rectify the ‘distorting effects’ (p. vii) of a legacy that has been largely eclipsed by Caravaggio and obscured by the details of Valentin’s enigmatic life. The six essays and fifty expertly written catalogue entries work together to re-present Valentin as an artist whose work transcends its obvious stylistic debt to Caravaggio’s tenebrism, and whose paintings conveyed a ‘radi- cal statement of realism’ (p. 44) centuries prior to the revolution initiated by Courbet. There are three primary themes that appear to inform the catalogue as a whole. The first of these concerns Valentin’s biography and the cultural milieu of early modern Rome. Unlike his French contemporary, Simon Vouet, who was named director of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1624, Valentin traversed the seedier parts of the city’s art scene. He was a member of the Bentvueghels [Birds of a Feather], an artists’ associa- tion, dedicated to Bacchus, whose members celebrated the creative impulse through in- ebriation. The essays in the catalogue work to combat the reductionist view of the artist as an unfortunate bohemian. Significantly, Patrizia Cavazzini establishes for the first time a concrete date for Valentin’s early presence in Rome with the publication of a court docu- ment, dated 2 May 1614, that attests to an assault involving ‘Valentino del Bologna’ (p. 239). Cavazzini successfully resituates Valentin’s artistic ascent within the Roman sub- culture of reckless and itinerant painters. As such, her essay legitimizes the larger claim that many of Valentin’s subjects were plucked from his everyday life — a life that was punctuated by the unruly behaviour of his peers. The second theme of the catalogue is Valentin’s role as the principal proponent of pittura dal naturale [painting from life] in the decades following Caravaggio’s death. Although it has long been acknowledged that Valentin, like Caravaggio, painted directly from the posed model, Keith Christiansen sug- gests that Valentin combined Caravaggio’s methodology with Venetian pictorial traditions in order to produce paintings with an unprecedented immediacy and deep emotional effect. Adding to this discussion, Gianni Papi shows that Valentin relied on Cecco del Caravaggio and Jusepe de Ribera for intellectual (and not just stylistic) inspiration. Finally, the authors of the catalogue seek to better understand Valentin’s cultural identity as a forest- iere [foreigner], and essays by Annick Lemoine and Jean-Pierre Cuzin reveal an artist who has occupied a central, if under-studied, role in both Roman and French histories of art. And yet the assertion implied by the title of the show and catalogue — namely that Valentin’s paintings go beyond the art of Caravaggio — is not entirely proven by the incisive essays and entries. If the authors deploy ‘dal naturale’ too readily in answer to this question of artistic transcendence, readers will nevertheless find in this catalogue a substantive and evocative re-assessment of one of the most important painters of the seventeenth century. ERIN E. BENAY doi:10.1093/fs/knx216 CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/fs/article-abstract/72/1/104/4372416 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018

Journal

French StudiesOxford University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2018

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