French Painting in the Seventeenth Century


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Alain Mérot; Translated by Caroline Beamish

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This richly illustrated panorama of seventeenth-century French painting surveys the works of Poussin, Vouet, Le Sueur, de La Tour, Mignard, and other great and little-known artists. It places this art in relation to literary, political, philosophical, and social developments of the period; considers the foundation of the Royal Academy of Painting in 1648; discusses the influence of Mazarin on artistic developments; explores issues of status, patronage, and connoisseurship; and reexamines the notion of a "French School" of painting, first proposed by the theorist Roger de Piles in 1699.

Published with the support of the French Ministry of Culture

Alain Mérot is professor of the history of modern art at the University of Lille III.

"We are taken on a voyage of initiation, where painters and their public, the founders of the Academy, portraiture, landscape, painters of animals and still life are all studied. Rather than isolate French art, the author reveals the incredibly rich cultural context of the seventeenth century."--Jean-Marie Tasset, Figaro

"Mérot delights in the company of Champaigne, Le Sueur, Le Brun. He loves to study complex compositions, sacred symbolism, political subtexts, and the poetry and philosophy of paintings."--Philippe Dagen, Le Monde

"Lavishly illustrated, this is an excellent introduction to its chosen subject, and is unlikely to be supplanted for many a long year."—David Ekserdjian, World of Interiors

"[A] scholarly book [that] provides a good idea of the richness seventeenth century French painting. . . . A beautifully produced . . . erudite and sensible volume."—Byron Ireland, Day by Day

"Mérot . . . deftly ties together some of the latest scholarship on this gilded age of French art."—Stephen Wallis, Art & Antiques

"An intelligent and assimilable synthesis. . . . [Mérot's] book is clearly written (and well translated) and copiously illustrated. . . . A well-balanced treatment, combining a broadly chronological narrative with thematic chapters. . . . The art history is underpinned with enlightening references to the political, social and cultural history of the century. [A] useful and able synthesis."—Marc Jordan, Times Literary Supplement

ISBN: 9780300065503
Publication Date: November 29, 1995
Publishing Partner: Published with the support of the French Ministry of Culture
325 pages, 10 x 11 1/2
144 b/w + 199 color illus.