Simon Vouet

1 - 2
Simon Vouet

1626 or 1627
Simon Vouet, (born January 9, 1590, Paris, France—died June 30, 1649, Paris), painter who introduced an Italianate Baroque style of painting into France.

Vouet formed his style in Italy, where he lived from 1612 to 1627. The use of dramatic contrasts of light and shade seen in such early works as his Two Lovers indicates that he began in Rome as a follower of Caravaggio. Works done after 1620, however, such as St. Bruno (1620) and Cupid and Psyche (1637), display more idealized figures, betraying the influence of Guido Reni, Il Guercino, and Domenichino, who painted in the classical Baroque style of the school of Bologna. Vouet’s Time Vanquished (1627) breaks with the tenebrism of Caravaggio, using the more evenly diffused white light that characterizes his later style.

He returned to Paris in 1627 at the request of Louis XIII, who named him his first painter. Thereafter, Vouet won almost all the important painting commissions and dominated the city artistically for 15 years. He exercised an enormous influence with such works as Riches (c. 1630), which was probably part of the decorative program of the château of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Engravings and surviving panels show that he had studied Italian illusionistic ceiling decoration; e.g., his work in the Château de Chilly is derived from Guercino’s Aurora, and that in the Hôtel Séguier (completed c. 1640) is derived from Veronese. His other principal undertakings were in the Hôtel de Bullion and in the palace of the Cardinal de Richelieu at Rueil.

Vouet’s religious paintings of the early 1630s, such as the St. Charles Borromeo (c. 1640), show a developed but restrained Baroque style. The Madonna (c. 1640) and the Diana (1637) illustrate his best-known style, characterized by soft, smooth, and idealized modeling, sensuousness of forms, use of bright colours, and a facile technique.

Encyclopædia Britannica


c. 1615
Oil on canvas, 64 x 48 cm
Musée Réattu, Arles

St Catherine
Oil on panel, 63 x 49 cm
Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome

The Holy Family with Sts Elizabeth, John the Baptist and Catherine
Oil on canvas, 182 x 130 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Oil on panel, 63 x 49 cm
Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome

The Fortune Teller
Oil on canvas, 95 x 135 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

The Fortune Teller
c. 1618
Oil on canvas, 120 x 170 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Virgin and Child
Oil on canvas
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon

The Last Supper
Oil on canvas
Palazzo Apostolico, Loreto

Birth of the Virgin
c. 1620
Oil on canvas, 217 x 329 cm
San Francesco a Ripa, Rome

Prince Marcantonio Doria
Oil on canvas, 129 x 95 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Woman Playing the Guitar
Oil on canvas, 107 x 75 cm
Private collection

Oil on canvas, 375 x 225 cm
Chiesa del Gesù, Genoa

Oil on canvas
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon

Sophonisba Receiving the Poisoned Chalice
c. 1623
Oil on canvas, 126 x 157 cm
Staatliche Museen, Kassel

St Jerome and the Angel
Oil on canvas, 145 x 180 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

St Mary Magdalene
Oil on canvas, 241 x 171 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Allegory of Peace
c. 1627
Oil on canvas, 350 x 250 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome


The ill-matched couple (Vanitas), c. 1621