The Landscapes of Gaspard Dughet: Artistic Identity and Intellectual Formation in Seventeenth-Century Rome

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The paintings of Gaspard Dughet (1615-1675), an artist whose work evokes the countryside around Rome, profoundly affected the representation of landscape until the early twentieth century. Despite his impact on the development of landscape painting, Dughet is recognized today as the brother-in-law of Nicolas Poussin rather than for his own contribution to the history of art. His paintings are generally classified as decorative works without subjects that embody no higher intellectual pursuits. This dissertation proposes that Dughet did, in fact, represent complex ideals and literary concepts within his paintings, engaging with the pastoral genre, ideas on spirituality expressed through landscape, and the examination of ancient Roman art. My study considers Dughet's work in the context of seventeenth-century literature and antiquarian culture through a new reading of his paintings. I locate his work within the expanding discourse on the rhetorical nature of seventeenth-century art, exploring questions on the meaning and interpretation of landscape imagery in Rome. For artists and patrons in Italy, landscape painting was tied to notions of cultural identity and history, particularly for elite Roman families. Through a comprehensive examination of Dughet's paintings and frescoes commissioned by noble families, this dissertation reveals the motivations and intentions of both the artist and his patrons.

The dissertation addresses the correlation between Dughet's paintings and the concept of the pastoral, the literary genre that began in ancient Greece and Rome and which became widely popular in the early seventeenth century. The pastoral world, with its melancholic atmosphere and nostalgia for antiquity, was quickly assimilated into landscape painting, most effectively in the work of Poussin and Claude, and also in Dughet's paintings. For artists in the seventeenth century, the pastoral landscape was a place of meditation on the ancient past and the future inevitability of death, a theme present in Dughet's work as well. The dissertation reveals connections to ancient Roman paintings unearthed at the time and to antiquarian culture and contemporary interpretations of early frescoes. This study presents a renewed and comprehensive appreciation for Dughet's landscapes and a more nuanced view of his intellectual contribution as an artist.