The French Renaissance in Prints, from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.For too long the French Renaissance This article is about the cultural movement known as the French Renaissance. For more general historical information about France in this period (including demographics, language, economy and geography), see Early Modern France. has fallen between two schools: its Italianate character (and Italian personnel) let the northernists off the hook, yet clearly the French Renaissance was not a simple extension of the Italian (one need only look at St. Eustache in Paris), and so the Italianists neglected the work too. 1995 provided the needed stimulus with exhibitions of prints, drawings, and illustrated books. The ample and beautiful exhibition catalogue An exhibition catalogue is a printed list of what is on show in an art or other exhibition. It may range in scale from a single printed sheet to a lavish hardcover "coffee-table book". under review here is more than just a record of one of those exhibitions, co-organized by the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at UCLA UCLA University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA University Center for Learning Assistance (Illinois State University)
UCLA University of Carrollton, TX and Lower Addison, TX and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. As the Renaissance is increasingly redefined as part of the early modern period, and the revival of antiquity is accordingly made to compete for scholarly attention with issues such as the rise of national cultural identities, The French Renaissance in Prints will stand out as a valuable resource for scholars of various persuasions and diverse concentrations.
Henri Zerner's book on Fontainebleau prints appeared twenty-six years ago. Here he provides the introduction, followed by "Printmakers in Sixteenth-Century France," by Marianne Grivel, formerly of the Bibliotheque Nationale. She discusses the documentary record as it informs us about production and consumption. Marie Fontaine wrote "Stories Beyond Words," covering new ground on the interaction of poetic and visual imagination, including an excursus ex·cur·sus
n. pl. ex·cur·sus·es
1. A lengthy, appended exposition of a topic or point.
2. A digression. on Barthelemy Aneau's L'imagination poetique of 1552 in which poems were written expressly to gloss woodcut woodcut
Design printed from a plank of wood incised parallel to the vertical axis of the wood's grain. One of the oldest methods of making prints, it was used in China to decorate textiles from the 5th century. illustrations (oddly, none is illustrated). Suzanne Boorsch on "The Prints of the School of Fontainebleau The Ecole de Fontainebleau refers to two periods of artistic production in France during the late Renaissance centered around the royal Château of Fontainebleau.
First School of Fontainebleau (from 1531)
Art form consisting of the production of images, usually on paper but occasionally on fabric, parchment, plastic, or other support, by various techniques of multiplication, under the direct supervision of or by the hand of the artist. during the Reign of Henri IV," brings the scope of the exhibition into the seventeenth century. Peter Fuhring discusses grotesques, terms, moresques, strapwork strap·work
Decorative work, popular in northern Europe in the 16th and early 17th centuries, consisting of interlacing straplike bands, often used in low relief on ceilings, screens, and panels. , and other essentials of ornament at Fontainebleau and beyond in "French Ornament Prints."
As Zerner notes, the exhibition was not conceived of as "Duvet to Bellange," that is, as a succession of master or nearly master printmakers. Instead a happily melded diversity of methodological approaches in the essays yields a new, more inclusive picture of French Renaissance print-making, one which extends chronologically and geographically, not to mention artistically, beyond Fontainebleau; assigns a significant part to woodcut even apart from book illustration; and deftly avoids terminological straight jackets in handling a body of prints that has long been dismissed as falling short of the standard of peintre-graveur, being often poorly printed and by any reasonable definition not "original" prints. The authors are in general comfortable with treating the print tradition in France with respect even when labelling it craft or the ancestor of the cartoon; indeed they welcome the chance to deal with popular imagery alongside that which is not. The book is a treasure, and also an open door, as the paucity and agedness of many of the bibliographical references makes clear. Two quibbles may nevertheless be mentioned: the index is rudimentary, and the authors of the catalogue entries are at times hard to identify (see the Contents for authors' names). The entries are nevertheless substantial. For instance, Pierre Milan is now given the Mars and Venus after Rosso, instead of Caraglio.
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