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Study for a figure of Endymion

Simon Vouet

(1590 - 1649) | 868.5.80

Date : Circa 1630 | Medium : Charcoal drawing with white chalk highlights on brown paper

This drawing, which has long been considered one of the high points of Vouet's drawing work, perfectly illustrates his approach to the study of an isolated figure. It is drawn in charcoal and highlighted in chalk in a style that owes much to the great Bolognese tradition. This work prepares the sleeping figure of Endymion; the goddess Diana, who is in love with the young shepherd, will soon be joining him. The scene is moonlit, which explains the great softness of the contours and the importance of the chalk highlights.

This character is featured in the foreground of a tapestry kept at Château de Châteaudun, which can be linked to the wall hanging Les Amours des Dieux. The tapestry might be based on a decorative painting that no longer exists, as is the case for other pieces from this series. The artist dealt with the theme of Diane and Endymion in 1630-1631 at Château de Chilly (Essonne). The Main Chamber the of Hôtel de Bullion in Paris was adorned with nine paintings portaying the story of Diana. A further composition based on the story of Diana and Endymion – with a different configuration – is also extant and is conserved at Hearst Castle in San Simeon (California).