Nicolas Régnier, l’homme libre
Directed by Annick Lemoine and Adeline Collange-Perugi
This catalogue, which accompanies the first retrospective dedicated to French tenebrist artist Nicolas Régnier (at the Musée d’arts in Nantes until 11 March 2018), has the virtue of offering true notices with provenance, which is something increasingly rare in most publications. In the case of this painter who enjoyed some very specific themes, such as Mary Magdalene of carnival jokes (in one of them, a lit mesh was put under the nose of a person asleep) – it is always exciting to know who owned these works over the last three centuries. Régnier had a very long life, of which he spent the largest part in Italy: first in Rome (from 1620 to 1626), then to Venice (from 1631 up to is death). Maps explain his different residences: he was mobile like an ambitious youth in Rome (five different addresses), stable as a known painter in Venice (he never left the parish of San Cassiano). He was capable of the most beautiful chiari oscuri just like his inspiration, Caravaggio (whom he never met), was a virtuoso of physiognomy, of skin textures and of looks. But Régnier has also been admired, strangely enough, for his court portraits, in particular of the Farnese family) which on the contrary are starched, static, and look like wooden puppets.
Review published in the newsletter #495 - from 14 December 2017 to 20 December 2017