Paintings | 16th Century | Jacques Courtois called, Borgognone | Cavalry Battle | Artwork profile

35 x 69 cm
Oil on canvas


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Cavalry Battle

Jacques Courtois called, Borgognone

The subject
Battle scenes, captured in their most vicious frenzy, were the preferred subject matter of Jacques Courtois, a painter perhaps better known as ‘il Borgognone’ (taken from his homeland). This piece is a magnificent example of this iconographic theme. His passion for battle pieces derived from his first-hand experience as a young assistant to a man-at-arms in Italy, following a short apprenticeship in the workshop of his father, an icon painter.


The painting

This painting was attributed to ‘il Borgognone’ by Luigi Salerno (written communication).

The French painter was a man of action and this facet of his character was most evident on the canvas. The horses spurred into battle, the unsheathed swords, and the bodies of the fallen here are all characteristic elements of his figurative repertoire, and this piece is a fine example of his work.

This proclivity for battle scenes can be understood as the artist’s personal manner of interpreting the deep spiritual need of the 17th century, fiercely influenced by the moralising theories of the Counter Reformation during which, in figurative art in particular, there was a greater emphasis on meaning, visual representation and choreographic impact.

The decrees of the Council of Trent had a strong impact on this artist’s work, especially after he joined the Jesuit order following the death of his wife.

The clashes between the masses of soldiers in his paintings exude great dynamic energy, evoking extreme intensity and tragedy: precisely the effect that Courtois strived to attain with his art.