This exhibition will reflect the reversal of influence seen in the 17th century between Flemish baroque art – with Rubens as the leading proponent – and the French classical school, of which Poussin is the most representative.
The grand master of baroque, Pierre-Paul Rubens arrived in Paris in 1625 with his series of canvases depicting the life of Mary of Medicis, Queen of France and widow of Henri IV. Commissioned four years before by the Queen, this imposing series of 24 pieces was destined to decorate the west wing of the Luxembourg palace in Paris. Today it hangs in the Louvre.
At the start of the 17th century, 70% of production from Antwerp was exported, a major portion of which to France. In Paris, Saint-Germain des Prés village fair, hosted by Nordic merchants, sold a great many Flemish works of art.
Under the reign of Henri IV, then the regency of Mary of Medicis, Flemish painters with Pierre-Paul Rubens foremost among them, obtained the lion’s share of royal commissions, including Philippe de Champaigne for portraits or Frans Snyders for animal art.
This strong presence in France motivated French artists, such as the Le Nain brothers, to adopt Flemish subjects and models.
The 17th century was therefore one where artistic currents changed, when the French classic school influenced the Europe of Arts, supported by the extensive political power of Louis XIV’s reign.
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