Two exhibitions to visit in Tours and Paris on Renaissance arts

Two exhibitions to visit in Tours and Paris on Renaissance arts

Capturing society and the arts in full renewal in the 15th and 16th centuries, this is the challenge won by two exhibitions, in Tours and Paris, which change the vision of this pivotal period.

In Tours, in the ladies' room

Leaning on the shoulder of her banker husband, the young woman checks the piles of coins, an account book placed in front of her. Seized by a Flemish painter, this beautiful merchant, with everything she symbolizes about the honorable, educated and active woman of the late Middle Ages, made the poster for “Scepter and the Distaff”, an ambitious exhibition proposed in Tours ( Indre-et-Loire).

The Museum of Fine Arts has, in fact, undertaken to present, through around a hundred paintings, sculptures and other jewels loaned by different French establishments, the condition of women in the 15th and 16th centuries, on the cusp of the Renaissance. . In doing so, the exhibition is part of a current trend: using art to tell a part of the history of our society. “We wanted to put this period in the spotlight,” explains Elsa Gomez, its curator, “because recent historical research has shown that women were much more present in the economic world and public space than was previously believed. SO. »

Great lovers

Occupying the entire ground floor, the thematic route firstly evokes marital relations. While the visitor admires the portrait of The Lady of Thoughts intended for an absent lover – proof that feelings do exist -, severe portraits of spouses remind us that “marriage, in all classes, is above all a question of family alliances”, specifies the curator. As a counterpoint, very lively audio recordings allow you to listen to a spontaneous love letter from Gabrielle de Bourbon to her husband, but also a plea in favor of a battered woman…

Maternity, work, piety and leisure are evoked in the same way… We will remember the striking portrait of a Milkmaidvery modern in style, or the softer one of a Young woman in prayer , due to workshops in northern Europe. Each time, audio recordings, labels and clear panels detail the point.

Eternal temptresses

A second part explores the representations of women in the imagination of the time and the statuses assigned to them. The development of private devotion gave rise to a more intimate vision of the Virgin Mary, which painters no longer hesitated to represent breastfeeding. “But at the same time, many texts and works rely on the figure of Eve to present women as eternal temptresses,” explains Elsa Gomez.

The exhibition ends with the evocation of women of power, and in particular with a beautiful portrait of Queen Catherine de Medici, long criticized, today rehabilitated for her peacemaking role during the Wars of Religion.

In Paris, at the time of Charles VII

Under a majestic canopy, angels crown two deer, emblems of the sovereign… This impressive tapestry, epicenter of the exhibition at the Cluny Museum in Paris, presented at the heart of the tour, affirms the power of Charles VII (king from 1422 to 1461) . However, this royal authority was not obvious when said Charles acceded to the throne in the middle of the Hundred Years' War, while England had conquered a large part of the kingdom. The portrait of the king by the great painter Jean Fouquet sets the tone for this French art which emerged from the late Middle Ages.

The exhibition aims to take the Renaissance back before the Renaissance, through works from Burgundian Flanders, imported by masters who deepened their paintings using the technique of “atmospheric perspective”. Homes in France then abound, in Val de Loire, in Bourbonnais… All the arts are available: stained glass, paintings, sculptures… Here, the elegant recumbent figure of Anne of Burgundy; there, an intimate painting of Kiss of Judas and the arrest of Christ . The hooded mourners of the funeral monument of the Duke of Berry have swapped the stiff Gothic style for a more natural silhouette, prefiguring a new art.

Above all, loans from the National Library celebrate, through books of hours, this exceptional art of illumination which reached its peak under Charles VII.

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