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Salvator Rosa in French Literature

From the Bizarre to the Sublime

James Patty

Publication Year: 2005

" 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. James S. Patty, professor emeritus of French at Vanderbilt University, is the author of Dürer in French Letters . He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: Studies in Romance Languages

Front cover

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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

For about two centuries, the paintings of Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) enjoyed great popularity in Europe, and his works were on view in many major museums and private collections. His name was often mentioned with those of Poussin and Claude Lorrain as a master of landscape. ...

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pp. ix

In putting this study together, I have received help from a number of colleagues, most of whom are also good friends: Professors Lois Cassandra Hamrick, John E. Keller, Luigi Monga, Claude Pichois, Helen and Raymond Poggenburg, Laurence M. Porter, Claude Schopp, Albert B. Smith, ...

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pp. 1-4

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 of musée imaginaire, a crowded collection of the paintings that Morse evidently considered outstanding and representative.1 ...


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pp. 5

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1. Crossing the Alps

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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’s Trésor chronologique et historique (1647), in a list of more or less contemporary painters: ...

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2. Toward Romanticism

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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 a Vue romantique ...

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3. Enter Lady Morgan

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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. ...

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4. Lady Morgan's Legacy

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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: ...

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5. Rosa and the Major Romantics

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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 ...

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6. Criticism, Scholarship, and Journalism, 1824-ca. 1860

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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 ...

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7. A Fading Beacon

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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 in La Maison de Claudine (1922) ...

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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,. ...


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pp. 223-252


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pp. 253-260


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pp. 261-269

E-ISBN-13: 9780813171937
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813123301

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Studies in Romance Languages