The greatest French follower of Caravaggio (1571–1610), Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632) was also one of the outstanding artists in 17th-century Europe. In the years following Caravaggio's death, he emerged as one of the most original protagonists of the new, naturalistic painting.
This is the first monographic exhibition devoted to Valentin, who is little known because his career was short-lived—he died at age 41—and his works are so rare. Around 60 paintings by Valentin survive, and this exhibition brings together 45 of them, with works coming from Rome, Vienna, Munich, Madrid, London, and Paris. Exceptionally, the Musée du Louvre, which possesses the most important and extensive body of Valentin's works, is lending all of its paintings by the artist.
Although he is not well known to the general public, Valentin has long been admired by those with a passion for Caravaggesque painting. His work was a reference point for the great realists of the 19th century, from Courbet to Manet, and his startlingly vibrant staging of dramatic events and the deep humanity of his figures, who seem touched by a pervasive melancholy, make his work unforgettable.
Learn more about Valentin de Boulogne and the themes of this exhibition in a series of blog posts written by Keith Christiansen and guest authors.
The exhibition is made possible by the Hata Stichting Foundation, the Placido Arango Fund, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, Frank E. Richardson and Kimba M. Wood, Alice Cary Brown and W. L. Lyons Brown, and an Anonymous Foundation.
It is supported by an Indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musée du Louvre.
The catalogue is made possible by the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund.
Banner image: Valentin de Boulogne (French, 1591–1632). Samson (detail), 1631. Oil on canvas, 53 3/8 x 40 7/16 in. (135.6 x 102.8 cm). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund (inv. 1972.50). Blog Series image: Valentin de Boulogne (French, 1591–1632). Soldiers Playing Cards and Dice (The Cheats) (detail), ca. 1615. Oil on canvas, 47 5/8 x 59 13/16 in. (121 x 152 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Patrons' Permanent Fund