A Saint Roch by Guy François Acquired by the LACMA

Guy François (c. 1578-1650)
Saint Roch and the Angel
Oil on Canvas - 45.5 x 35 cm
Los Angeles, County Museum of Art
Photo : Galerie Terrades

4/10/12 - Acquisition - Los Angeles, County Museum of Art - The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has just purchased a painting by Guy François depicting Saint Roch (ill.), from the Galerie Terrades in Paris. Despite at least two exhibitions and a publication, more or less in the recent past, entirely devoted to this artist [1], he remains relatively unfamiliar or at least, poorly understood due to the many questions surrounding his career in Italy. A student, or rather a follower, of Carlo Saraceni, several paintings still attributed to the master have been returned to him these last thirty years by French art historians, though these identifications are contested by Italian specialists. We are thus looking forward to reading Bruno Saunier’s monograph which should appear soon and takes on the heavy burden of elucidating this complex question.

The canvas acquired by the American museum is incontrovertible and has been unequivocally attributed to the artist by Bruno Saunier himself who published it in the Bulletin des historiens de l’Art italien [2]. Saraceni’s influence is however visible everywhere, particularly in the round faces of the figures and the smooth treatment. The presence of Guido Reni is also quite noticeable. This painting appears to date from Guy François’ first Italian period and would thus be contemporary to the Mary Magdalene acquired by the Louvre a few years ago, and also presents the same ecstatic pose.
Of particular note is the amusing and almost naif manner which the painter uses to represent the dog which is staring straight at the spectator with an interrogative look. Saint Roch is showing his thigh and bubo (concealed from view) to the angel who is handing him an ointment to heal the plague.
Nothing is known about the origins of this painting. The size might indicate that it is in fact a modello for a large altarpiece which is today lost or was never executed.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 8 octobre 2012


[1] Marie-Félicie Pérez, Guy François, catalogue for the exhibition at the Musée Crozatier at Le Puy and the Musée d’Art et d’Industrie in Saint Etienne, 1974 ; Luigi Ficacci, Guy François 1578-1650, Rome, 1980 ; Jean Penent, Le Temps du caravagisme. La peinture de Toulouse et du Languedoc de 1590 à 1650, Paris, 2001 (publication accompanying an exhibition at the Musée Paul-Dupuy).

[2] Bruno Saunier, "Guy François, imitateur de Carlo Saraceni ?", Bulletin de l’association des historiens de l’Art italien, n°15-16 (Le Caravage aujourd’hui et autres études), 2010, pp. 119 and 121, repro. fig. 11, p. 120.

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