DERUET, Claude
(b. 1588, Nancy, d. 1660, Nancy)

Fire (detail)

before 1642
Oil on canvas
Musées des Beaux-Arts, Orléans

The painting is part of a series representing the Four Elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water). They were painted for the cardinal's château at Richelieu near Orléans some time before 1642 (in which year the cardinal died). The emphasis of the four canvasses is entirely decorative. The Element of Fire is particularly dramatic, and depicts one of the elaborate firework displays popular at the time. The Elements conform very closely to the aesthetic spirit of the last years of the reign of Louis XIII who died in 1643.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 18 minutes):
Handel: Fireworks Music