The Splendid Century: French Art: 1600-1715

The Splendid Century: French Art: 1600-1715

The Splendid Century: French Art: 1600-1715

The Splendid Century: French Art: 1600-1715

Excerpt

The glorious art of France in the seventeenth century is relatively unknown to us today. In the seventeenth century, when ours was a rough land of pioneering people, the new horizons of art in France were barely visible from America. Our forebears had little time for the triumphs of Versailles, the gardens of the Tuileries, European politics, or the books of Corneille, Molière, and Racine.

From Louis XIII to Louis XVI the French kings fostered a life of elegance and developed a court of the greatest luxury, in which the arts in every form were encouraged. The period from the death of Mazarin in 1661 to that of Louis XIV in 1715 saw the French monarchy at its height. Not only architecture, painting, and sculpture but also the decorative arts gave opportunities for a display of opulence seldom surpassed in any age. Louis XIV, le Roi Soleil, and his family and favorites were the demigods of a society all but forgotten in our modern world.

This exhibition brings to our shores an opportunity to review the artistic production of a major period in Western history. Such an assembly of both well-known works and less familiar masterpieces rarely seen by the general public will help us to understand this era and will contribute to our knowledge and enjoyment of an important aspect of our artistic heritage.

Our museums and their many visitors are deeply appreciative of the unstinting efforts of the French Government in making this exhibition available. Our thanks are due as well to many people in France and America for their indefatigable efé . . .

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