Le tapisserie de Bayeux
Le tapisserie de Bayeux

The history of french art can be traced back to the Moyen-Âge, Xe-XIIIe siècle, and can still be viewed today in the Musée du Louvre, L’Eglise Saint-Germain-des –Prés la nef romane, the tapisserie de Bayeux, and the Musée de Cluny, Paris.
In this series of posts entitled L’ Histoire de l’Art français, I have listed the artists, dates, locations and works of French art from the Moyen-âge to Surréalisme (1918-1969) using my lecture notes from Dr. Philippe Pantet’s art history course at the Sorbonne (Hiver 2012). These notes have been very useful to me as I have visited museums, churches and historical monuments around France and I hope they will be helpful to you as well !

  1. Moyen-âge Xe-XIIIe siecle
    Art roman
    The Art Roman developed in a society that was very rural and religious under the Carolingiens rule of Charlemagne up to the Capétiens rule of such well known French Kings as Hugues Capet, Philippe II Auguste, and Saint Louis (Louis IX). The seven liberal arts of this era were divided into two groups 1) Le trivium : grammaire (Priscien), rhétorique (Cicéron), and dialectique (Aristote) and 2) Le Quadrivium : arithmétique (Pythagore), astronomie (Pythagore), géométrie (Euclide), and musique.

The architecture was influenced by the churches of northern Italy, northen Spain and the south of France which used massive, latin crosses of three nefs and one abside in their design. The edifices had voutes en berceau using solid contreforts and robust pillars.
The paintings of this time were frescos with many colors and religious themes. Some of the churches you can visit today to see the Art Roman are :
• Paris :
Eglise Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Musée de Cluny ; La Saint-Chapelle (gothique rayonnant) ; Eglise Saint-Germain l’Auxerois (gothique flamboyant)
• Hors Paris :
L’ Eglise Notre-Dame-la-Grande, Poitiers ; Cathédrale d’Angoulême, Vézelay, la basilique ; Cathédrale de Chartres ; Cathédrale d’Amiens ; Cathédrale de Reims.

  • Tapisserie de Bayeaux:

This tapisserie was created during the reign of Mathilde around 1064 to chronicle the Battle of Hastings.  It is 69m long and 50 cm wide and includes 58 scenes of the famous battle.  Some of the more well known panels show Halley’s Comet as it preceded the invasion of Englad, Guillaume riding on his horse into battle and the death of King Harold. (see illustration at top of the post)

  1. Architectural style :
    • L’art Gothique (1140-1190) :
    Arc boutants, Harmonious facades, and double déambulatoires as in L’Eglise Saint-Denis and Saint-Étienne de Sens, Paris

• Gothique Classique (1190-1240) ;
During this period, churches began adding labyrinthes such as Cathedrales in Chartres and Reims

Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral

chartres 3
• Gothique Rayonnant (1230-1350) :
Occidental facade with two stages, An Abbatiale choir, large stained glass windows which emitted rays of light « rayonnant » such as : Notre Dame de Paris, La Sainte-Chapelle, Palais de la Cité of Paris and L’abbatiale Saint-Ouen of Rouen

Rose Window, Notre Dame
Rose Window, Notre Dame

• Gothique Flamboyant (1350-1520) :
The basic structures are the same as the other gothique styles but the décor evolves into a « flamboyant » ornamental style as in Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois

L'Eglise Poitiers
L’Eglise Poitiers

• Gothique International (1400s) :
In paintings and sculpture, the characters are delicate and traditionally without emotion and are represented in vivid colors and can be seen in central and occidental Europe.

Copyright 2015 by Robyn Lowrie.  May be quoted in part or full only with attribution to Robyn Lowrie (www.frenchquest.com)