"Les Caravage de Philippe de Béthune"
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This thesis will investigate the impact of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610), on French patrons and his reception among French artists and collectors in the early seventeenth century, focusing on “les Caravage de Philippe Béthune,” two paintings which are currently on display at the “Chancellerie” in Loches-en-Touraine in central France. The paintings, La Cène à Emmaüs and L’Incrédulité de Saint Thomas are important because they were the first Caravaggesque paintings to be introduced to France when Philippe de Béthune brought them back from Italy in 1605. French interest in Italian paintings had fallen into decline during the sixteenth century, largely as a result of the breakdown in diplomatic relations with Rome due to the French Wars of Religion (1558-98), and the continued hostilities with Spain. “Les Caravage de Philippe de Béthune”, are therefore significant in the history of French art collecting and are fundamental to this project. One of the principal aims of this study is to assess the importance of Philippe de Béthune (1566-1649) as an early French collector of modern Italian paintings. Béthune was first introduced to Caravaggio’s dramatic and psychologically powerful art during his first period of office (1601-1605) as the French Ambassador to Rome, through his professional relationship with Cardinal Del Monte, one of Caravaggio’s important early patrons. This study will discuss the polemic surrounding the attribution of Béthune’s paintings to Caravaggio and examine the comments made by leading art experts regarding “Les Caravage de Philippe de Béthune,” together with the difficulties faced by conservators when trying to establish the true authorship of paintings. Caravaggio was an extremely popular and highly commercial artist in his own lifetime and consequently his work was much copied. This study will therefore investigate the culture of copying during this period.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Electronic version restricted until 19th October 2018
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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