Louis de CAULLERY
(Cambrai circa 1580 - 1622 Antwerp)
Galante party in a park
Oil on panel, 56 x 77 cm
PROVENANCE: - Private Collection, Paris
Painter of allegorical, mythological, religious subjects, genre scenes and architectures, Louis de Caullery is probably from the village of Caullery near Cambrai. He is presumably the son of Loys de Caullery, French miniaturist who died in 1598 and author of a "Holy Family" dated 1594.
Louis appears in the registers of the Guild of St. Luke of Antwerp in 1594 as a student of Joos of Momper the Younger (1564-1635). And in 1603, when he becomes master.
Louis de Caullery seems to have been active in Flanders throughout his life although he has a great knowledge of different European cultures. It is difficult to attest with certainty of his trip to Italy. It seems however that he was very influenced by the big cities of the peninsula like Venice, Florence or Rome, which he often represents in his compositions. Louis de Caullery attaches particular importance to the treatment of architectures and classical palaces sometimes existing, as is the case for the Château Saint Ange or Saint Mark's Square or, very often, imaginary.
Louis de Caullery develops in the first two decades of the seventeenth century a very particular style. He usually focuses on the representation of high society through scenes of banquets, banquets, activities in parks in front of palaces, where we dance, we listen to music, we eat, we stroll. The outfits are rich, giving us a glimpse of the fashion of the time.
Louis de Caullery is part of the tradition of gallantry, introduced in Flanders by Hieronymus Francken I (1540-1610), who was part of the School of Fontainebleau. He lived in France, in Fontainebleau then in Paris from 1560 to his death in 1610, with a return to Antwerp from 1574 to 1578. Hieronymous Francken I illustrates the gallant style and the festivals very fashionable at the court of Henri III then d Henri IV. He was famous for his ball scenes, a subject that will be spread at the beginning of the 17th century in Antwerp by his nephews, Hieronymus Francken II (1578-1623) and Frans Francken II (1581-1642) and their contemporary Louis de Caullery.
In France, court balls will be, in the sixteenth century, a very important political instrument, used by sovereigns to assuage and dominate the nobility, still very turbulent at the time. Gallantry described a civilizing force that could control social conflict and cultivate society. In France, the feast will remain a major trend of painting until the eighteenth century with Watteau (1684-1721) and Fragonard (1732-1806).
Brussels will also know this fashion, Frans Francken II and Paul Vredeman de Vries (1567-1636) will represent around 1610, a famous ball at the court of Archdukes Albert and Isabella (preserved at the Mauritshuis in The Hague).
In our painting, Louis de Caullery, no doubt inspired by the works of Hans Vredeman de Vries (1526-1607), introduces an extra dimension, by arranging the party outside, in the park of an ideal palace. He thus opens the space of the ball which was confined to the interior space. The gallantry after having civilized the interior of palaces, goes to the conquest of the world. Here everything is more than luxury, calm and pleasure.
Our painting, with its rigorous construction whose perspective is perfectly centered, highlights a large garden in front of a majestic palace. This panel is a fine example of the works where Caullery likes to portray elegant little figures richly dressed. This representation of a festive, worldly and elegant scene is one of Louis de Caullery's finest and most delicate works.
MUSEUMS: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; Louvre, Paris; Prado, Madrid; Museum of Fine Arts, Angers, Bordeaux, Quimper, Troyes; Mun. Museum, Cambrai; S.M.K., Copenhagen; Kunsth., Hamburg; Curtius Museum, Liège; Boymans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; ...