Portrait of Louis XIII

Simon Vouet French

Not on view

Recalled to France in 1627 by the French king Louis XIII, Vouet brought with him an up-to-date Baroque manner and set up a sizable studio to help him meet the growing demand for large scale decorative painting for the hôtels and châteaux in and around Paris. Even while his impressive output of paintings was establishing Paris as a new center of Baroque style, Vouet also had a more personal relationship with the king, who not only commissioned from the painter a series of strikingly intimate pastel portraits of members of his court, but also had Vouet teach him to draw.
Here, Vouet sketches the king’s own likeness; seen in three-quarter view, its broadly handled technique and psychological directness suggest an immediacy and comfort that erases any sense of distance between artist and sitter. Like other products of this joint drawing project, the Portrait of Louis XIII bears the imprint of Vouet's Roman Caravaggesque period and reveals his knowledge of the pastel manner of Italian artists such as Barocci and the Bassanos. Thus, Vouet continues the rarified court tradition of portrait drawing which had begun during the reign of François I (1515–1547), but reinvigorates it with a new naturalism and directness.

Portrait of Louis XIII, Simon Vouet (French, Paris 1590–1649 Paris), Black and white chalk with touches of pastel on light brown paper

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