Martyrdom of Saint Cecilia
126.4 cm x 97.2 cm (49 3/4 in. x 38 1/4 in.)
(Le Puy, France, 1578 - 1650, Le Puy, France)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
This picture is an early and almost programmatic response to Caravaggio’s lessons. It has long been attributed to Carlo Saraceni, a Venetian painter active in Rome, one of the earliest to espouse the new naturalistic language. It is better seen as a capital work of François, who was also in Rome from 1608 until 1613, then the very first to bring Caravaggism to France. Although extremely similar and usually confused with Saraceni’s, the works of the Frenchman can be distinguished by their slightly more regular shapes and exact contours, which result in compositions of more pronounced pattern than atmospheric space. Precisely this difference is clear in comparing the present composition with a nearly identical version by Saraceni that was recently identified and acquired by Los Angeles. The identity of these pictures also answers any question about the fact and intimate nature of the two painters’ collaboration.