Vonet, Simon

Von'et, Simon an eminent French painter, was born at Paris in 1582. He received instruction from his father, and made such rapid advances in the art that at the age of fourteen he was commissioned to visit England for the purpose of painting the portrait of a French nobleman then residing in London. Several years after, baron de Saucy, French ambassador to the Porte, took him to Constantinople, where he painted an excellent portrait of the sultan from memory, after seeing him at the ambassador's audience. This performance gained him the patronage of the Turkish nobles. From Constantinople he went to Venice, to study the works of Paul Veronese, and thence to Rome in 1613, where he adopted the style of Caravaggio. He was employed by pope Urban VIII and his nephew, the cardinal, to paint several pictures for St. Peter's and the Palazzo Barberini, which are said to be among his best works. He was also employed by Louis XIII of France and prince Doria of Genoa, and on returning to Rome in 1624 was chosen president of the Academy of St. Luke. In 1627 he returned to Paris by invitation of the king, and was appointed his principal painter, with apartments in the Louvre. He was employed in numerous commissions-so numerous, indeed, that he was obliged to entrust the execution of the greater part to his scholars. He painted ceilings, galleries, altar-pieces, small religious subjects, and other easel pictures, and portraits in oil and in crayon. The multiplicity of his engagements induced Vouet to abandon the careful and vigorous style which he followed in Italy and during the first part of his residence in France; but he nevertheless greatly improved the French school, and he is said by French historians to have done as much for painting in France as Cornelle did for the drama. Among his principal works in Paris are the Assumption of the Virgin, in the Church of St. Nicolas' des Champs; and the Martyrdom of St. Agnes, in the Church of St. Eustache. An etching by Vouet of the Holy Family, dated 1633, is also mentioned. He was followed by a number of disciples, who exerted a further influence upon the taste of the French school. He died at Paris in 1641. See Spooner, Biog. Hist. of the Fine Arts, s.v.

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