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Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio

Lemoine, Annick and Keith Christiansen with contributions by Patrizia Cavazzini, Jean-Pierre Cuzin, and Gianni Papi
288 pages
145 illustrations
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Following Caravaggio's death in 1610, the French artist Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632) emerged as one of the great champions of naturalistic painting. The eminent art historian Roberto Longhi honored him as "the most energetic and passionate of Caravaggio's naturalist followers." In Rome, Valentin—who loved the tavern as much as the painter's pallette—fell in with a rowdy confederation of artists but eventually received commissions from some of the city's most prominent patrons. It was in this artistically rich but violent metropolis that Valentin created such masterworks as a major altarpiece in Saint Peter's Basilica and superb renderings of biblical and secular subjects—until his tragic death at the age of forty-one cut short his ascendant career.

With discussions of nearly fifty works, representing practically all of his painted oeuvre, Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio explores both the the artist's superlative depictions of daily life and the tumultuous context in which they were produced. Essays by a team of international scholars consider his key attributions to European painting, his devotion to everyday objects and models from life, his technique of staging pictures with the immediacy of unfolding drama, and his place in the pantheon of French artists. An extensive chronology surveys the rare extant documents that chronicle his biography, while individual entries help situate his works in the contexts of his times.

Rich with incident and insight, and beautifully illustrated in Valentin's complex, suggestive paintings, Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio reveals a seminal artist, a practitioner of realism in the seventeenth century who prefigured the naturalistic modernism of Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet two centuries later.

Lute Player, Valentin de Boulogne  French, Oil on canvas
Valentin de Boulogne
ca. 1625–26

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View Citations

Lemoine, Annick, and Keith Christiansen. 2016. Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio. Edited by Valentin. New York, NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.