LA FOSSE, Charles de
(b. 1636, Paris, d. 1716, Paris)

Rape of Proserpine

Oil on canvas
École des Beaux-Arts, Paris

Of the various artists who were responsible for the transformation of French painting at the last decades of the seventeenth century the most original was Charles de la Fosse. He begun his training under Le Brun, but his evolution was much more deeply affected by his visit to Italy, where he spent the years 1658-60 in Rome and the following three years in Venice, also visiting Modena and Parma. He returned to France armed with a knowledge of the latest Roman manner, that of Pietro da Cortona and his followers, but with a stronger leaning towards north Italian artists, particularly Veronese and Correggio. The results can be seen in his Diploma piece, the Rape of Proserpine, in which the landscape is purely Venetian in feeling while the figures show a curious mixture of influences from Albani and the late Poussin.