Work Woman Nude to the Waist
Department of Prints and Drawings: 17th century
Femme nue, à mi-corps, de dos, tournée vers la gauche
Prints and Drawings
This study of a woman is characteristic of the broad, generous style that Vouet perfected during his stay in Italy. The drawing is a virtuoso demonstration of the artist's mastery of line, although several hesitations are visible in the retouching of the profile and a lighter change to the right arm of the figure. The figure is perhaps of mythological inspiration and the work is one of Vouet's finest displays of draftsmanship.
In this three-quarters rear view the figure is depicted to the waist, with the face lowered and seen in profile. The bust is nude, but the waist is covered by very lightly sketched drapery. The right arm is raised and the left arm is lowered, forming a diagonal that crosses the whole drawing. The young woman seems to be lifting drapery with her right hand in a movement that is difficult to interpret. In this work, the artist achieves a balance between form and line, with the curves turning in the light and the sinuous line tracing supple contours. The young woman, with a full, well-rounded figure, is portrayed making a gracious movement, with light and shade playing on her shoulders and back. She seems to pivot in space and take possession of it.
A mysterious work
This exceptionally fine work is an enigma, because it is unrelated to any other composition by the artist. The gracefulness of the gesture and the fullness of the figure bring to mind the studies of Annibal Carrache that Vouet had studied in Italy and to which the painter remained faithful throughout his Parisian career. The drawing can nevertheless be compared to the mythological figures of the 1630s that are part of the typical repertoire of the artist. The same ample forms and careful mastery of relief and light can also be found in a figure of the Renaud and Armide cycle in a ceiling painted by Vouet at the Château de Chessy in the early 1630s. These similarities suggest the work may date from the same period, but such figures can be found in Vouet's work in about 1640, making dating very difficult.
BibliographyBrejon de Lavergnée B., Dessin français du XVIIe siècle. LXXXIIIe exposition du Cabinet des Dessins, Editions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1984-1985, notice 30
Brejon de Lavergnée B., Simon Vouet, Editions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1991, notice 89
Brejon de Lavergnée B., Musée du Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins. Inventaire général des dessins, école française. Dessins de Simon Vouet 1590-1649, Editions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1987, notice 77
Pour en savoir plus :
Rencontre de l'Ecole du Louvre. Colloque Simon Vouet, Paris, Galerie nationales du Grand Palais, 1991.
Simon Vouet (Paris, 1590-1649)
Woman Nude to the Waist
Black chalk with white highlights on beige paper.
H. 21 cm; L. 25.3 cm
Collection of Comte de l'Espine and Princesse de Croÿ, gift in 1930.
Due to their fragility, works on paper are not on permanent display in the museum.
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