La fabrique des saintes images
Directed by Louis Frank and Philippe Malgouyres
In our times of skepticism, who could recite the Hail Mary without hesiating? Who is still capable of making the difference between Pierre de Bérulle and François de Sales? O tempora o mores! As the catalogue that accompanies an exhibition at the Louvre shows, things were quite different during the XVIIth century. Implulsed by the Counter-Reformation, the sense of religion was at the heart of people’s concerns. New congregations such as the Oratoire did everything to stimulate it, and the best artists were asked to illustrate the new themes in fashion – the life of the Virgin, the last Supper, the Eucharist. The authors show the rich but critical relation between Rome (a more theatrical idea of religion) and Paris (a more austere expression, marked by the Reformation). They review some of the major characters and key moments, from Guido Reni to Philippe de Champaigne, from Le Sueur to the Le Nain brothers, reminding the reader of these forgotten traditions. Like the famous "Mays" of Notre-Dame: each May 1st, from 1630 to 1707, the corporation of jewelers offered the cathedral of Paris a painting dedicated to the Virgin, and not a bouquet of lilies of the valley. The investigation continues since one third of the compositions have been scattered or destroyed.
Review published in the newsletter #387 - from 7 May 2015 to 13 May 2015