Trophime Bigot (1597–1650) – a mysterious master of candlelight

Trophime Bigot ?, Allegory Vanitas, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini

Trophime Bigot ?, Allegory Vanitas, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini

This French painter, a representative of Baroque, was active in Rome for only several years, yet he left behind some truly interesting works, which should be taken note of during a stroll through Roman art galleries. Until recently he was a real mystery to art historians. We do not know much about him, while his method of painting, different in Rome and different after returning to France, made researchers believe that we are in fact dealing with two separate painters, some claimed there were even three of them.

 

Trophime Bigot ?, Allegory Vanitas, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini
Trophime Bigot, Singer with a Candle, Galleria Doria Pamphilj, pic. Wikipedia
Trophime Bigot, Boy Singeing a Bat’s Wings Galleria Doria Pamphilj, pic. Wikipedia
Trophime Bigot, St. Sebastian aided by St. Irene and St. Lucina, fragment, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Palazzo Corsini

This French painter, a representative of Baroque, was active in Rome for only several years, yet he left behind some truly interesting works, which should be taken note of during a stroll through Roman art galleries. Until recently he was a real mystery to art historians. We do not know much about him, while his method of painting, different in Rome and different after returning to France, made researchers believe that we are in fact dealing with two separate painters, some claimed there were even three of them.

 

 

It was not until research done in the 1960’s, which allowed to distinguish approximately 40 paintings, which are indisputably considered to be his doing. Due to the motifs often appearing in Bigot’s paintings, he is sometimes referred to as “Candlelight Master”. It may be he, who was the first to introduce candlelight dispersing darkness into paintings. Today he is counted among the group of so-called Caravaggionists (successors and continuators of master Caravaggio), although, a whole group of painters active in Rome at that time (also foreigners) were directly inspired by   another painter active one hundered years earlier – Correggio.

Apart from multi-person compositions, the so-called nocturnes, where dimly lit contours of a figure emerge from the depths of shadow, Bigot was known for genre scenes, where, generally young people were depicted in half-figure, looking attentively at the viewer as if waiting for a reaction. Reddish is the dominating color here. These small-sized canvas, although meant for private collectors, had to be very popular at that time.

The painter lived in Rome between 1620 and 1634, although some claim that he was already in the city in 1605. Documents show that he was active at the Academy of St. Luke (Accademia di San Luca).

The artist’s paintings:

Galleria Doria Pamphilj

  • Boy singeing a bat’s wings
  • Singer with a Candle

Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica – Palazzo Barberini

  • Vanitas ?
Musei Vaticani, Pinacoteca Vaticana

  • Saint Sebastian aided by Saint Irene