Jacques Courtois or Giacomo Cortesi, known as le Bourguignon (Saint-Hyppolite, 1621 - Rome 1676) painting on canvas depicting battle scene: 52.5 x 26cm
Expertise: Prof. Giancarlo Sestieri
Nicknamed the Burgundian of battles, he was from the French region of Franche-Comté, which at the time belonged to Spain. He received his first painting lessons from his father Jean Courtois. In 1636, in Milan, he enlisted in the Spanish army and remained there until 1639; so, having a great taste for painting, he began to paint, changing masters as the city he was in changed. He studied in Bologna with Jérome Colomès, worked with Guido Reni and Francesco Albani and in Florence with Jan Asselyn, a Dutch painter specializing in battle scenes. In Verona, Florence and Venice he painted works of all kinds. Arriving in Rome in 1640, he had the opportunity to see the "Battle of Constantine" painted by Giulio Romano in the Vatican. This work, which he liked very much, and the years spent in the service of the Spanish army led him to specialize in the genre of battle, becoming famous for his way of expressing himself and his "surprisingly true" colors. He then moved to Siena, where in 1647 he married the daughter of a Florentine painter, of whom he was extremely jealous. When she died suddenly in 1654, he was accused of poisoning her. He therefore retired to the Fathers of the Society of Jesus and later became a Jesuit. Upon his return to Rome, he lived in the Novitiate of St. Andrew on Monte Cavallo and at the Jesuit House. One of his earliest works from this period is the series of six battles "won through the intercession of the Virgin Mary" in the primary chapel of the Roman College. He also contributed to the wall decoration of the corridors of the apartments of St Ignatius (the professed house of Jesus). He also held a school: the French painter Joseph Parrocel was his pupil. In 1672, at the request of the Superior General, he prepared the sketches for the decoration of the apse of the Church of Jesus, but could not complete the work due to his declining health. He died in Rome on November 14, 1676. His brother William (Guillaume Courtois) was also a reputable painter. Today, the works of Jacques Courtois can be found in the greatest museums in the world, the Louvre in Paris, the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace in Florence, the Prado in Madrid, the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg , etc... Gian Lorenzo Bernini commented: "Among the painters of this period in Europe, no one equaled Courtois in the graphic expression of the horror of the battle" (Salvagnini, FA, I pittori borgognoni, Cortese , Rome, 1937, p. 185).
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