Simon Vouet was a French painter from the Baroque period. He became one of the foremost painters of his period and served as King Louis XIII’s prime painter, also being responsible for introducing the Italian Baroque to France.
Simon Vouet was born in Paris, January 1590. His first artistic tuition was with his father, who was a painter and taught both Simon and his brother Aubin Vouet. Young Simon Vouet was a prodigy and very precocious, for his career began when he was only 14 years old, as a portrait painter. At the same age, Vouet traveled to England, to execute a commissioned portrait, and in 1611 went to Constantinople, along with French ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. From there, he would go to Italy, where he spent several years, much due to the increased interest in the Baroque style.
Simon Vouet remained in Italy until 1627. Although his style was already very distinctive, this period was crucial to develop it further, since he was able to study thoroughly under many influential Italian artists. Said artists were Guido Reni, Carracci, Lanfranco, Guercino, and most importantly, Paolo Veronese and Caravaggio. Simon Vouet is often regarded as the person who imported the Italian Baroque style to France.
His sudden return to France was due to a summon by the French King himself. La Richesse was a painting produced for a royal castle, which shows the works of a very confident Vouet, with a keen sense of volume and colors. Although having a very own style, Vouet would adapt it to match the sumptuous decorative scheme of the Louis XIII era. Said adaptation allowed him to receive several commissions from the King and Richelieu and being awarded the post of premier peintre du Roi, a prestigious role as one of the King’s royal painters.
Simon Vouet became an increasingly influential artist, as his sizable workshop would produce a whole school of French artists for the next generation. His most prominent pupil was Charles le Brun, who would state the official style of Louis XIV’s court. However, le Brun, out of jealousy, excluded Vouet from the Academie Royale.
Some of Vouet’s other noteworthy pupils were Francois Perrier, Michel Corneille the Elder, Nicolas Chaperon, the Flemish painter Abraham Willaerts, and Valentin de Boulogne, who became the leading painter of the French Caravaggisti. These are only a number of his pupils since the artist was responsible for training several noteworthy painters.