François du Quesnoy

François du Quesnoy, ‘Plantin-Moretus/Prentenkabinet, Antwerpen’François du Quesnoy is a sculptor and a drafstman, born in Brussels and who comes from an artistic family. His father and instructor is the sculptor Hieronymus Duquesnoy I (ca. 1570-1641/42). Du Quesnoy is the brother of the sculptor and architect Jerôme Duquesnoy II (1602-1654).

Du Quesnoy works for nearly the entirety of his career in Rome and becomes known there as Francesco Fiammingo. The artist promotes the interests of the Flemish colony there and is a member of the Academia di San Luca and of the elite Virtuosi al Pantheon. Du Quesnoy lives in the same house as Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665).

In the beginning of his career, du Quesnoy makes small sculptures for the free market and restores antique sculptures. He would undertake famous works such as the Rondanini Faun (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The sculptor makes small-scale copies of well-known works such as the Torso Belvedere and Laocoön and is known for his talent for sculpting children, by which he gains a name as a putti-artist. Roman connoisseurs are interested in the young du Quesnoy, who comes under the influence of the patronage of the Barberini family. He has contact with Cassiano dal Pozzo, secretary of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, for whom he makes the bas-relief The Sleeping Silenus. (Personally made bronze copies are present in the Rubenshuis, Antwerp).

The sculptor du Quesnoy is an important representative of the Classicist and monumental branch of the Baroque, which in Rome has great success beginning in the 1620's. These artists, amongst whom Domenichino is important, follow the example of the Bolognese Annibale Carracci (1560-1609).

Duquesnoy assists Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) with his monumental canopy in the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He is responsible for making the putti. Bernini was also responsible for securing the commission of the St. Andreas, one of the 4 sculptures in a niche at the foot of the columns under the copula of St. Peter's Basilica. This prestigious assignment indicates the renown of the artist in Rome, at the time the epicenter of art.

Du Quesnoy is also grounded in the making of stylised and timeless appearing portrait busts, in which he gives attention to the realistic rendering of cloth. Du Quesnoy has the opportunity to become the director of the department of sculpture for the yet to be established French academy, but his untimely death prevents this. In 1633, François Du Quensoy is regaled as penultimate competent sculpture in Rome, only after Bernini.

1597

François Du Quesnoy is born in Brussels.

1618

Father Hieronymus Duquesnoy I requests a grant from the Archduke Albert for the work that his son François helped carrying out for the Brussels' court.

August 1618

With the grant from Archduke Albert, François departs for Rome along with his brother Jerôme Duquesnoy II. According to report the brothers have a falling out after a disagreement.

1621

Archduke Albert dies. This means an end to the salary for Du Quesnoy. The artist decides to stay in Rome, but sees it necessary to work in the studio of Claude Poussin (dies 1661). The restoration of antique sculptures is presumed to be connected to the loss of the remuneration and the necessity to seek his income elsewhere.

1627

The Roman Mason's guild order from Du Quesnoy a Saint Susanna for the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto. The artist completes the sculpture, which raises praise from his contemporaries, between 1629 and 1633.

1627-1628

Du Quesnoy comes into contact with Gianlorenzo Bernini for the first time. He helps him with the making of the angels of the canopy in the Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.

1629-1639

Bernini is, on commission from Pope Urbanus VIII, responsible for the commission of the Saint Andreas, one of the 4 monumental sculptures in a niche at the foot of the columns under the copula of the Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. The other artists are Bernini (St. Longinus), Andrea Bolgi (1605-1656) (St. Helena) and Francesco Mochi (1580-1654) (St. Veronica). Andreas' pose is controlled, but the sculpture looks more Baroque than is expected from du Quesnoy. This must be attributed to Bernini's guidance.

1633

Via Pietro Pescatore, or De Visschere as this Fleming actually is named, du Quesnoy gets the commission to make a funerary monument for Ferdinand van den Eynde. (Santa Maria dell'Anima, Rome). Pescatore introduces Duquesnoy to various art connoisseurs, amongst whom is probably Filippo Colonna. For Colonna, du Quesnoy makes an ivory crucifix, which later comes into the possession of Pope Urban VIII. Consequently the Pope orders two more small works.

In this year, the artist is called as the best sculpture in Rome, only after Bernini.

1639

Along with Poussin, du Quesnoy is invited to Paris by Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642) and Lodewijk XIII. Duquesnoy gets the offer for the position of the director for the department of sculpture in the still to be constructed Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. Only in 1643 does du Quesnoy make a start to travel to Paris, because, inter alia, he is forbidden by the Spanish authorities to work for the King of France.

1642

Antonius Triest (1576-1657), Bishop of Ghent, orders from du Quesnoy a tomb monument for the Ghent Saint Bavo Cathedral, but the artist refuses the commission due to his upcoming trip to France. du Quesnoy, however, does make a few terracotta models for putti. The monument is later made by his brother Jerôme Duquesnoy II (1602-1654).

19 July 1643

The artist travels together with his brother Jerôme to France. François du Quesnoy becomes sick on the way and dies in Livorno.

Matthias Depoorter

The sleeping Silenus - François du Quesnoy - 1630 - 1640
The sleeping Silenus - François du Quesnoy - 1630 - 1640 The sleeping Silenus
1630 - 1640
bronze, gold, lapis lazuli