Monuments and museums

Palais des Papes

Pont Saint-Bénezet

Musée Calvet

Musée du Petit Palais

Musée Requien

Musée lapidaire

Musée du Vieil Avignon

Palais du Roure

Musée du Mont-de-piété

Musée Louis-Vouland

Musée Angladon Dubrujeaud

Maison Jean Vilar

Collection Lambert
Information
Le musée du Petit Palais
 


Le palais des Archevêques

The imposing structure of the Petit Palais seals the northern side of the Place. This beautiful edifice was builtduring the second decade of the fourteenth century. It was given the name Petit Palais to distinguish it from the Palais des Papes.

Cardinal Bérenger de Frédol l’Ancien had this expansive residence built c.1318-20. After his death (1323), Cardinal Arnaud de Via, nephew of the reigning Pope, John XXII, bought the palace as well as some neighboring buildings for his personal use. With his death in 1335, the building was temporarily vacant until it was purchased by Pope Benedict XII as the bishopric.
Anglic Grimoard undertook the
painstaking work of restoring an authentic appearance to the interior of the palace, with four wings around a cloister and a service court. The Petit Palais suffered at the time of the great schism.

For some fifteen years the building served as a citadel. Fortified, attacked and bombarded, it was in awful condition at the war’s end in 1411. In the second half of the fifteenth century the Petit Palais assumed what would become its more or less permanent form, thanks to work commenced under Bishop Alain de Coëtivy and continued under his successor, Julien de la Rovere, the future Pope Jules II. This great prince of the church arrived in Avignon in 1474, assigned by his uncle Sixtus IV to the bishopric –soon to become the archbishopric-and to the Avignon legation.

He adorned the building with new south and west facades, whose noble and regular design reflects the style of the Italian Renaissance, as does its details : oculi and west-facing door surmonted with a triangular pediment, window drip-moldings ans insignia facing south. In 1487 Julien de la Rovereadded the requisite tower, which collapsed in 1767. In 1503, when this prelate was to assume the pontifical throne, the Petit Palais (also known as the Palace of the Archbishop) had more or less assumed its definitive physical organisation.

The Palace was nationalized and sold during the french Revolution. In the nineteenth century it became a Catholic secondary school, and after 1904 it was a professional and technical school. Since 1976 it has been a jewel-like backdrop for a museum dedicated to italian medieval and Renaissance painting, and Avignonnais art of the same period.

Le musée du petit Palais

Open since 1976 the Musée du Petit Palais houses one of the most important collections of Italian primitives outside of Italy. These collections have a double origin : the Musée Calvet and the Campana Collection. The latter provided the majority of italian paintings, some 300 works.

Giampietro Campana, an important nineteenth century collector, was born in 1807 to a wealthy Roman bourgeois family. Rich from landowning and industrial revenues (he possessed a large marble works) he was also the honorary director of the bank where papal finances were deposited, the Monte di Pieta in Rome. His curiosity was encyclopedic and his passion as a collector unlimited : Etruscan and Roman vases, terra cotta, jewels, majolica, bronzes and paintings.

The nearly fifteen thousand works were packed into his Roman palaces and come from purchases made throughout Italy, as well as excavations in central ans southern Italy. The marquis circulated widely and his collection was renowned inside and outside of Italy. But his ambition was even greater than his fortune, and he obtained authorization from the pontifical minister of finance to assure security on loans to himself. Within a few years the assets of the Monte di pieta were drained. Upon inspection, a deficit of one million Roman ecus were detected. The marquis was arrested in 1857, imprisoned, and after a long trial condemned to twenty year’s incarceration.

Thanks to Napoléon III who negociated the purchase of the collections for France, this sentence was commuted to perpetual banishment and the confiscation of his material goods.Thus the Campana collection left Italyand came to occupy the Palais de l’Industrie in Paris. Instituded in 1853, the Palais de l’Industrie closed almost immediately, due to power struggles behind the scenes. After this the collection was dispersed to provincial museums throughout France, to be partially regrouped in Avignon in 1976. The musée Calvet supplemented this important ensemble of paintings from the Italian Middle Age and Renaissance with Medieval sculture and painting from the Avignon School.

Salles 1-2 : The first two halls confirm the vitality of Avignonnais sculpture. The Romanesque period is represented primarily by sculpted capitals. These come from the Abbaye Saint-Ruf (c. 1140) and the cloister of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-des-Doms (second half of the twelfth century). The beautiful series of capitals from the latter demonstrates the mastery of Provençal sculptors who very effectively took their inspiration from the ancients. Two marble pieces, a Sign of Gemini and a Month of July, most certainly figured in a fountain (near Nîmes, late twelfth century).

The second part of the hall contains works from the fourteenth century that come mainly from buildings constructed during the period of Avignon’s papal control. Primarily fragmentary pieces attest to the quality of Avignon’s funerary works. These includes statuettes from the tombs of John XXII and Innocent VI, a recumbent statue of Pope Urban V, and the tomb of Cardinal Philippe de Cabassole.

The murals from a private residence in Sorgues are an excellent example of the sort of profane series (hunting scenes, dancing scenes and thème courtois) that adorned the walls of cultivated sixteenth-century homes. Sculptures from the fifteen meter funerary monument that Cardinal Jean de la Grange, Bishop of Amiens, had built at the Eglise Saint-Martial (Avignon, c. 1388) can be seen in the old chapel. Its sculptural arrangement was destroyed during the Revolution, but a seventeenth-century drawing indicates the disposition. Representations of the recumbent figure (in alabaster, now very mutilated) and the nude decomposing cadavre (or transi) were located at the base. This transi is one of the earliest examples of the macabre genre current in Northern Europee at the end of the Middle Age. The already fleshless cadaver is striking for its realism and anatomical detail. Five sculpted groups were developed along the vertical axis of the tomb.

Salle 3 : The Italian painting collections begin here. The museum’s decision to present a chronological and geographical progression succeeds in demonstrating the extraordinary evolution of Italian painting between the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries.
The
Byzantine influence of thirteenth century painters is still evident, as the fragment from the Crucifix (workshop of the Berlinghieri) and the Last Supper (workshop of the Master of the Madeleine) clearly attest. Altars were bestowed with altarpieces or large panels such as the Majcstic Virgin (1310).

In the fourteenth century smaller format were also produced ; note the Florentine triptych of Puccio di Simone. Simone Martini’s (d. 1344, in Avignon) four tondi depicting the prophets was part of the altarpiece that the artist painted for Orvieto (c . 1320). The refined deftness of Venetian painting iss perfectly illustrated by the Virgin and Child (c. 1340) of Paolo Veneziano, official painter of His Supreme Highness.

Salle 4 : The Siennese school long remained faithful to its origins. Bartolo di Fredi and Taddeo di Bartolo left works demonstrating a great richness of ornementation (fabrics, gold point) and emphatic drawing technique that favors the arabesque.

Salle 5 : While continuing to refer to Giotto, Florentine painters began to introduce a refined linear gothic style. An example is the beautiful triptych by the Master of Santa Verdiana, commisssioned for the main altar of the hospital founded in Florence by Bonifacio Lupi in 1386, and dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.

Salle 6 : Between 1380 and 1450 the international Gothic style spread throughout Europe. Also known as the « art courtois », it is characterized by a taste for description of court life, Gothic arabesques and ornemental refinement. The Angel and the Virgin of the Annunciation of Gherardo Starnina, are fine examples of this tendency, as is the Altarpiece of Saint Laurence (Lorenzo Monaco, 1406).

Salles 7-8 : The tableaux exhibited here illustrate the diverse aspects of the style in Bologna and the Marches. At the far end of the gallery, towards the cloister, there are panels from the Siennese school, by Sano di Pietro and Giovanni di Paaolo. Small and charmings panels by the Master of Leccetto come from marriage chests and depict the stories of Dido and Lucretia and Collatinus.

Salle 9 : This hall looks on to the Rhône, and concerns the Florentine Renaissance. The large Altarpiece of the Master of the Madonna of Buckingham Palace is close in style to Fra Angelico, and is characteristic of the « new style » by virtue of its antique architectural vocabulary and its unification of space. And if the painter is anonymous, the prestige of the patron is evident from the Medici blazons on the predella. Profane painting was beginning to flourish, as the number of panels from cassoni (mariage chests) in the Petit Palais’s collection shows. Note the stories of Susanna and the Elders, and Cephalus and Procris, retold with great narrative detail.

Salle 10-11 : The gallery in witch Renaissance painting is presented is accessed from the large hall.Woks by Bartolomeo della Gatta demonstrate the important lessons about light that Piero della Francesca conferred to Italy in the second half of the century. In the lunette with the Annunciation, Bartolomeo demonstrates his skill in rendering in perspective, which thenceforth will be comprised according to precise geometric principles and a singular central vanishing point.

The most famous artist of Renaissance Florence is certainly Sandro Botticelli, whose Virgin and Child is among the museum’s masterpieces. The balance and composure of the composition, the beautiful pyramidal figure that the arrangement constitutes, and gracefully youthful Virgin create the harmony emanating from this tableau which still bears the influence of Botticelli’s teacher Verrochio. Executed circa 1470, the restrained and light palate, the diaphanous skin tones and the sophisticated coiffure are marks of Botticelli’s early style. A number of Florentine workshops imitated Botticelli in often stiff and and academic works.

Salle 12 : The second floor, accessible by an attractive winding stair, probably dates from the time of important works by Alain de Coëtivy (1457-60). The works in this room are a complete break with Florentine « classicism », since Northern Italian painting developed in other directions, led by Mantegna, towards a vigorous ans graphic style. Placed beneath an arch decorated in Paduan style a large John the Baptist painted by Girolamo di Giovanni da Camerino (c. 1460-65) bears witness to the powerful plasticy of this style.

The expressionism of the Marches School is evident in the Calvary attributed to Ludovico Urbani (c. 1470). Carlo Crivelli, who left Venice to establish himself in the Marches, privileges the line and rests faithful to the decorative excesses of late Gothic. Four Saints (c . 1490) form the pilasters of an altarpiece whose central panel, the Madona de la Candeletta, is located in the Brera Museum in Milan.

Salle 13 : Crivelli’s illustrative style had considerable influence on painters from Venice to Marches. Witness the nativity scene in the San Veneziano Altarpiece (c.1480) by Niccolo da Foligno. Carlo Crivelli was also the examplar for his brother Vittore. The Petit Palais possesses several of his works, dating from the end of the fifteenth century (Virgins and Child, Saint Julien). Their decorative lyricism (voluminous stuffs, flowers, garlands and fruit) contrasts with the sculptural power of the next image of Saint John the Baptist, painted by Cristoforo Scacco.

The second part of this gallery is devoted to the second hall of the fifteenth century in Siena, where painters brilliantly exploited the resources of a rich tradition. Lorenzo Vecchietta brought a new high Renaissance architectural décor to the traditional form of the portabale leafed triptych. About 1470 Liberale da Verona, who made the famous miniatures in the Duomo, imported the Paduan style to Siena. His poetic flights of imagination and invention are illustrated by the magnificient panels figuring the Abduction of Helen of Troy. Francesco di Giorgio Martini’s landscape in his Virgin and Child (c. 1475) is also animated by this sort of poetic liberty.

The last two sections of the hall are devoted to Rome (several works by Antoniazzo Romano, including a copy of Giotto’s famous Navicella), Liguria and Lombardy. Among these works, note the Altarpiece of the Nativity, painted c.1490 by Giovanni Massone d’Alessandria, in which Sixtus IV and Jules II are represented along with many references to antiquity, and two panels by Louis Brea, of Nice. Lombardy is represented by several works, among which is a beautiful Deposition of Christ by Bergognone.

Salles 14-15 : Presented here are examples of production from Florentine workshops from the end of the fifteenth century. Botticelli remained a primary influence. Particular mention must be made of the beautiful coffered boxes (cassoni) of the Master of the Cassoni Campana, an anonymous painter who recounts the Myth of Theseus, from the move of Pasiphae to the abandoning of Ariadne at Naxos, on four panels (c. 1510).

Salle 16 : Finally this voyage through Italian painting culminates with works that show the Renaissance reaching its classical phase (Rafaellino del Garbo, Ridolfo Ghirlandajo).
In one of the most important works of the collection, the Holy Conversation of Vittore Carpaccio, the
religious theme becomes a pretext for developing a vast landscape bathed in the crepuscular light.

Salles 17-19 : The last rooms are devoted to Avignonnais painting and sculpture. They dominated by Enguerrand Quarton, author of the famous Pieta in the Louvre and the no less remarkable Coronation of the Virgin in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon (museum). The Requin Altarpiece (c. 1450-55) reflects the major stylistic tendencies of the Avignon school : monumental simplicity of composition, geometric volumes, clear and directed light, bold coloring (the staw-yellow of the ground).

At the end of the century, Josse Lieferinxe took up a number of these characteristics for several alatrpiece panels (the Annunciation and Circumcision, and Saints Michael and Catherine on the other side). Fine examples of the exceptional quality of Avignon sculture of the period are manifest in the Angels (1465) by Antoine Le Moiturier and Saints Lazarus and Martha by Jean de la Huerta. Both were sculptors at the court of the Dukes of Burgundy.

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