Overview

Louis Vallée took his subject from Giovanni Battista Guarini's late sixteenth-century tragicomedy Il Pastor Fido, a pastoral play that glorified arcadian life and had far-ranging effects on the art and literature of France, Flanders, and the Netherlands. Its extremely intricate plot focuses on the love between the faithful shepherd Mirtillo and the nymph Amarillis, who is betrothed to Silvio by paternal arrangement. This scene is from the play’s subplot, which concentrates on the love of the nymph Dorinda for Silvio, who cares only for the hunt and is oblivious to her feelings. After one of Silvio’s arrows accidentally wounds Dorinda, she crawls out from the bushes where she had been hiding in her animal-skin disguise and falls into the arms of her guardian, Linco. Silvio, distraught and finally realizing his own love for Dorinda, offers her the arrow so that she can exact revenge by taking his life in return. Dorinda, whose wound is only superficial, wisely rejects his emotional offer so that all ends well. The two lovers are married before sunset that very day.

Silvio with the Wounded Dorinda is an excellent example of Dutch classicism as it developed in Amsterdam around mid-century. History paintings such as this work were greatly admired and avidly collected by Amsterdam patricians. Almost nothing is known about the life of the artist Louis Vallée. Unfortunately, the first and only document that refers specifically to him is the register that records his burial in Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk on May 28, 1653.

Inscription

lower right to left of arrow sheaf: Loiy[s] Vallee. / f [1]65[1?]

Marks and Labels

null

Provenance

(Alex Wengraf, London), by 1983;[1] purchased 1990 by by Patricia Bauman and the Honorable John Landrum Bryant, Washington, D.C.; gift 2000 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Bibliography

1983
Sumowski, Werner. Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler in vier Bänden. 6 vols. Landau, 1983: 6:3731, no. 2373, repro., as Silvio und die verwundete Dorinda by Jacob van Loo.
2008
Brink, Peter van den. "Uitmuntend schilder in het groot: De schilder en tekenaar Jacob Adriaensz Backer (1608/9-1651)." In Jacob Backer (1608/9-1651). Edited by Peter van den Brink and Jaap van der Veen. Exh. cat. Museum Het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam; Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen. Zwolle, 2008: 54-55, repro.
2010
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. "Wouter Kloek and the Attribution of Louis Vallée’s 'Silvio with the Wounded Dorinda'." The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 58, no. 2 (2010): 173-177, repro.

Conservation Notes

The painting is on a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric, which has been lined. The tacking margins are extant, but the painting has been reduced in size along the left edge, where approximately 1.5 cm of the pictorial surface has been folded over to serve as part of the tacking edge. The support is covered by a thin red ground layer; the paint is fluid and layered with extensive glazes. The artist used the ground as a base tonality in the flesh colors, sky, and landscape. The X-radiographs show a change in Dorinda’s proper right foot, and examination with infrared reflectography at 1.5 – 2.0 microns[1] indicates that the artist originally painted Silvio’s proper left ring finger outstretched and touching the arrow.

The painting is in fairly good condition, though there is a pattern of wrinkles through the paint probably caused by a past lining procedure. The X-radiographs show a tear through the left side of Dorinda’s chest, as well as one through the shepherd’s head. In addition to paint losses associated with the tears, small losses exist in the upper right corner, scattered in the drapery just below Silvio’s shoulder, in his proper right hand, and along the edges of the composition. Examination with ultraviolet light reveals a fair amount of inpainting covering abrasion in the sky; the shepherd’s head; Dorinda’s face, shoulder, chest, and drapery; and Silvio’s face and drapery. The signature and date are abraded.

 

[1] Infrared reflectography was performed using a Kodak 310-21X PtSi camera.

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