Jean Hey, L’ annunciation (detail), 1490-1495, The Art Institute of Chicago, Collection Mr & Mme Martin A. Ryerson, © photography The Art Institute of Chicago 2010


From the 6 of October 2010 to the 10th of January 2011 – Galeries nationales du Grand Palais

Between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
This exhibition explores a time of unprecedented artistic contact and creative effervescence in
France, which many people know little about.
It is the first major exhibition devoted to a turning point in French history, in the reigns of Charles VIII (1483-1498) and Louis XII (1498-1515), which was dominated by the personality of Anne
de Bretagne, successively the wife of both kings. A period of economic recovery, demographic growth, and territorial ambitions with the famous Italian wars, as well as cultural development in the
humanist spirit. It was also a time of exceptional flowering and sharp contrasts in art. Nonetheless, these movements are often skimmed over to the extent that most books on Europe Europeanart in the period barely mention France at all.

The exhibition is divided into three main sections, taking a closer look at various facets of the
art of the time:

The Stimulus: Patrons and Artists

The first section explores the stimulating effect of direct contact between patrons and artists. The
political capital of France in 1483-1515 did not have a monopoly of cultural activity. On the contrary, there was creative ferment throughout the country. Without seeking to give an exhaustive
“tour of France”, the exhibition focuses on several significant art centres in which individual and
group commissions triggered creative endeavour: the Val de Loire, a favourite haunt of the French
kings, the Bourbonnais, under the influence of great princes, Normandy, Champagne, Languedoc ….

Images of All Kinds.

The recent invention of the printing press made the circulation of pictures and designs possible on
an unprecedented scale and artists used recent or new media such as books and printed images as well
as medals or enamel work. Versatile artists illustrated manuscripts and printed books and adapted the same models for cartoons for stained glass and tapestries. Innovation was not always where one might expect: “modern” Gothic ornament and “ancient” Roman models were both successful and sometimes surprisingly found side-by-side.

Northern and Southern Influences

The last part of the exhibition, rising to a crescendo, looks at the interaction between men, worksand forms, some local and others coming from the north or south. Artists settled permanently orbriefly in France; imported works provide evidence of the vitality of some sites (altar pieces fromAntwerp, for example) and the interest shown by French collectors. The exhibition offers spectaculargroupings and comparisons, such as the four panels by the Master of St Giles, brought from London and Washington. Exceptional loans from the Louvre and the Art Institute of Chicago remind us that the French king and his entourage had bought works by artists such as Andrea Solario, Baccio della Porta (Fra Bartolommeo) and Leonardo da Vinci before 1515.

Museum Hours