Valentin de Boulogne

(d. 1591)

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(bapt. Coulommiers, ?3 Jan. 1591; d Rome, 18/19 Aug. 1632).

French Caravaggesque painter, active in Rome for all his known career (he is first securely documented there in 1620 but probably arrived appreciably earlier). His life is obscure: the name ‘Moïse’ (the French form of Moses) by which he was called was not his Christian name (which is unknown) but a corruption of the Italian form of ‘monsieur’. He did, however, have one major public commission—the Martyrdom of St Processus and St Martinian (1629–30, Pinacoteca, Vatican), painted for St Peter's as a pendant to Poussin's Martyrdom of St Erasmus. About 80 works are attributed to him. They vary in subject—religious, mythological, and genre scenes and portraits—but the same models often seem to reappear in them. Characteristically his work is marked by an impressively solemn, at times melancholic, dignity, but he could also create a vivid sense of menace in his portrayals of sinister drinking dives and gambling dens (The Card-Sharps, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden). He was one of the best of Caravaggio's followers and one of the most dedicated, still painting in his style when it had gone out of fashion. Baglione says that he died after taking a cold bath in a fountain following a drinking bout; his death was much lamented in Rome's artistic community.

Subjects: Art.

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