Vouet, Simon

, a French painter, very celebrated in his day, was born at Paris in 1582, and bred up under his father, who was a painter also. He knew so much of his art, and was in such repute at twenty years of age, that Mons. de Saucy, who was going ambassador to Constantinople, took him with him as his painter. There he drew the picture of the grand signer; and, though it was impossible to do it otherwise than by the strength of memory, and from a view of him at the ambassador’s audience, yet it proved a great likeness. Thence he went to Venice; and afterwards, settling himself in Rome, became so illustrious* in his profession, that, besides the favours which he received from pope Urban VIII. and the cardinal his nephew, he was chosen prince of the Roman academy of St. Luke. He staid fourteen years in Italy; and then, in 1627, Lewis XIII. who, in consideration of his capacity, hatl allowed him a pension all the while he was abroad, sent for him | borne to work in his palaces. He practised both in portrait and history; and furnished some of the apartments of the Louvre, the palaces of Luxemburg and iSt. Germains, the galleries of cardinal Richelieu, and other public places, with his works. His greatest perfection lay in his colouring, and his brisk and lively pencil; otherwise he was but tery indifferently qualified. He had no genius for grand compositions, was unhappy in his invention, unacquainted with the rules of perspective, and understood but little of the union of colours, or the doctrine of lights and shadows. Yet France was indebted to him for destroying the insipid and barbarous manner which then reigned, and for beginning to introduce a better taste. The novelty of Vouet’s manner, and the kind reception he gave all who came to him, made the French painters, his contemporaries, follow it, and brought him disciples from all parts. Most of the succeeding painters, who were famous in their profession, were bred up under him, as Le Brun, Perrier, Mignard, Le Sueur, Dorigny, Du Fresnoy, and several others, whom he employed as assistants in a great number of pictures he drew, and from his instructions they well knew how to execute his designs. He had the honour also to instruct the king himself in the art of designing.

He died, rather worn out with labour than years, in 1641, aged fifty-nine. Dorigny, who was his son-in-law, as well as his pupil, engraved the greatest part of his works. He bad a brother, whose name was Auhin Vouet, who painted after his manner, and was a tolerable performer. 1


Pilkington. Perrault Les Hommes lllustres.