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Salvator Rosa in French Literature

Salvator Rosa in French Literature: From the Bizarre to the Sublime

James S. Patty
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Salvator Rosa in French Literature
    Book Description:

    Salvator Rosa (1615--1673) was a colorful and controversial Italian painter, talented musician, a notable comic actor, a prolific correspondent, and a successful satirist and poet. His paintings, especially his rugged landscapes and their evocation of the sublime, appealed to Romantic writers, and his work was highly influential on several generations of European writers. James S. Patty analyzes Rosa's tremendous influence on French writers, chiefly those of the nineteenth century, such as Stendhal, Honoré de Balzac, Victor Hugo, George Sand, and Théophile Gautier. Arranged in chronological order, with numerous quotations from French fiction, poetry, drama, art criticism, art history, literary history, and reference works, Salvator Rosa in French Literature forms a narrative account of the reception of Rosa's life and work in the world of French letters.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7193-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    In late 1831, Samuel F. B. Morse, the American painter—and future inventor of the telegraph—began work on a huge picture,Gallery of the Louvre, showing the Salon carré as a sort ofmusée imaginaire, a crowded collection of the paintings that Morse evidently considered outstanding and representative.¹ On display are copies of thirty-eight paintings by twenty-three artists, mostly Italian, French, and Flemish. In the place of honor, near the center of the bottom row, is, not surprisingly, theMona Lisa. On the top row, well right of center and well above the imaginary viewer’s eye level, in shadow,...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Crossing the Alps
    (pp. 7-38)

    Near the midpoint of his century and of his career, Salvator Rosa’s reputation began to take on an international dimension. While still in Florence, Rosa had earned a brief but flattering entry in the third volume of Pierre Guillebaud’sTrésor chronologique et historique(1647), in a list of more or less contemporary painters: “En Italie, particulièrement à Florence, le sieur Salvator Rose Napolitain, la fleur des Peintres de cette ville, et mesme des Poëtes, car il fait fort bien une Comedie.”¹ Guillebaud’s book is largely forgotten, and his survey of painting in his time is, in Jacques Thuillier’s view, “assez...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Toward Romanticism
    (pp. 39-66)

    The legend of Rosa’s participation in Masaniello’s revolt seems not to have found any echo in revolutionary France.¹ But the words of Lévesque, quoted earlier, especially the expression “fierté sublime,” and the reference in a 1795 sales catalogue to one of Rosa’s landscapes as aVue romantique(Blanc,Trésor de la curiosité, II, 170) show that Rosa’s work was in tune with revolutionary times.

    The most important influence the Revolution exerted on the French reception of Rosa was the result of the great surge of museological activity that it fostered. The years of tumult saw the nationalization of much of...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Enter Lady Morgan
    (pp. 67-100)

    Lady Morgan, the author of the book that attached Rosa and his work firmly to the rising romantic movement, was born Sydney Owenson in Dublin, probably in 1776.¹ She was the daughter of an Irish actor, Robert Owenson (originally MacOwen) and an English mother who died while Sydney was still a child. Despite her father’s chronic financial difficulties, she struggled out of the typical situation of poor girls of her era by serving for a time as a governess. Literature seemed to offer a way up: a first volume of poems appeared in 1801; her first novel, in 1803.The...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Lady Morgan’s Legacy
    (pp. 101-126)

    Although Lady Morgan’s book made several serious contributions to the body of knowledge about Rosa accumulating in France since the seventeenth century, the immediate and most visible impact of her book was that, as a modern Rosa specialist has said, “she immortalized the two best-known legends about him: that he spent part of his youth as a prisoner of the Neapolitan bandits (whom she represents as noble outlaws of a Robin Hood type), and that he returned to Naples in 1647 to take part in the revolt of the fisherman Masaniello, slipping into the city unobserved and, with his fellow...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Rosa and the Major Romantics
    (pp. 127-158)

    Lady Morgan’s French romantic heirs were, for the most part, lesser noncanonical figures; except for Dumas, none of the major romantics devoted an entire, independent work to Rosa as presented in her book. Stendhal, as we have seen, was well aware of Rosa, but his references to Rosa mostly predate the publication of Lady Morgan’s biography, and none of them reflect the legends about the artist that she was largely responsible for putting into circulation. In the crucial year of 1824—crucial to Rosa’s “fortune” and crucial, too, in the history of the French romantic movement—Stendhal, reviewing that year’s...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Criticism, Scholarship, and Journalism, 1824–ca. 1860
    (pp. 159-196)

    We have seen the gradual emergence of Rosa and his work from a sort of literary penumbra in the long period between the first reference in French to him (1647) and the publication of Lady Morgan’s biography (1824). Before about 1800, with few exceptions, discussions of Rosa were brief and occurred in various forms of expository prose: biographical dictionaries, encyclopedias, art history, art criticism, treatises on painting, and travel writing. During the Restoration (1814/1815–1830) the landscape was markedly changed, largely as a result of the great cultural shift that brought romanticism to the fore in literature, music, and the...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN A Fading Beacon
    (pp. 197-214)

    The story of Salvator Rosa’s “fortune” in French literature from about 1860 to the present is not the story of a total eclipse but of a gradual waning, a perceptible loss of popularity and prestige. To my knowledge, a passing reference to him by Colette inLa Maison de Claudine(1922) is his only appearance in the literary work of a major French writer; in the early section entitled “Le sauvage,” Sido thinks wistfully of the familiar objects left behind when she married; among them is “le grand Salvator Rosa légué par mon père.”¹ His life and work during this...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 215-222)

    The story told in this study of Salvator Rosa’s reception in French literature is, in its grand lines, one of rise and decline. It cannot be a coincidence that this trajectory parallels that of French romanticism. To describe and fully explain Rosa’s rise and decline would require an exploration of the larger phenomenon, too daunting a task to undertake here. It must suffice to cite key moments and developments that reveal the parallelism at work. Several paintings by Rosa and some of his etchings reached France while the artist was still living and found homes in the most prestigious collections,...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 223-252)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-260)
  16. Index
    (pp. 261-270)