Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France

Yesterday I had the opportunity view the new exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago: Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France. This is an outstanding display of early French Renaissance Art only being exhibited in Chicago.

The items in the exhibit are from the Reunion des musees nationaux, Paris; Musee du Louvre, Paris; the Musee de Cluny-Musee National du Moyen Age, Paris; the Musée National de la Renaissance, Chateau d’Ecouen, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; and the Art Institute of Chicago. Sponsors for the exhibit were Paul and Melinda Sullivan and the Eloise W. Martin Legacy Fund. The Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Foundation and the Prince Charitable Trusts. Goldman Sachs, Kenneth and Anne Griffin, Thomas and Margot Pritzker, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, Donna and Howard Stone, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Sullivan. The exhibition is also supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

It is highly recommended that one make at least two or three visits to this outstanding exhibit for there is so much to art to view that one cannot possible absorb all that there is to offer. There are works of are in almost every genre including actual stain glass windows from various churches in France!

Prior to attending the exhibit I sat to a lecture given by Martha Wolff, Eleanor Wood Prince Curator of European Painting and Sculpture before 1750 at the Art Institute of Chicago. She gave a highly illuminating and scholarly exegesis of the current exhibit. She clearly laid the ground for this exhibit in so that all attending could get a sound perspective on what they were going to view.

As you walk in you are greeted with a wonderful tapestry showing an allegory of the kings of France imaged by stags bearing the fleur de lis in regal blue. As you turn to your right to access the various rooms that house the exhibit you are taken by the displays mounted all around and in the center of the exhibit hall. Many of the items (especially the Book of hours and devotional manuscripts) were kept under glass with temperature control. In the many rooms there are on display paintings of Christian themes as well as mythology. There is a magnificent tapestry of Narcissus pondering his image in a fountain.

In closing I highly recommend this exhibit and recommend anyone to take a trip to Chicago to view this very rare and unique offering provided to us here in the United States.

Stephen F. Condren – Artist