THIS collection, one of the most important and interesting among the treasures of the Louvre, occupies a somewhat unobtrusive suite of rooms on the ground floor, and is there-fore too little visited by most passing tourists. It contains three separate sets of plastic work : first, sculpture of the Italian Renaissance, on which the French was mainly based ; second, sculpture of the Middle Ages in France, leading gradually up to the age of François Ier, and improving as it goes, though uninfluenced as yet by external models ; third, and most important of all, in Paris at least, the exquisite sculpture of the French Renaissance, a revolt from mediævalism, inspired from above by kings and nobles, based partly on direct study of the antique (many specimens of which were brought to France by François Ier), but still more largely on Italian models, made familiar to French students through the work of artists invited to the court under the later Valois, as well as through the Italian wars of Charles VIII., Louis XII., and François Pr (of which last more must be said when we visit St. Denis. At least one whole day should be devoted by every one to this fascinating collection : those who can afford the time should come here often, and study au fond the exquisite works of Donatello, Michael Angelo, and (most of all) Jean Goujon, Germain Pilon, and their great French contemporaries. The Italians can be seen to greater advantage at Florence and elsewhere ; only here can one form a just idea of the beauty and importance of the French Renaissance.
Enter by Door D, in Baedeker’s plan, centre of the southeastern wing in the (old) Cour du Louvre. Pass straight through the vestibule, and Salle de Jean Goujon ; then turn to your right, traversing the Salle de Michel Ange, and enter that of the Italian Renaissance (numbered VI. officially).
The Renaissance in France being entirely based upon that in Italy, we have first to observe (especially in the case of those who have not already visited Venice and Florence) what was the character of the Italian works upon which the French sculptors and architects based themselves. Here you get, as it were, the original: in French sculpture, the copy. This small hall the hall of Donatello contains works of sculpture of the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries in Italy. Contrast it mentally with the purely medimval objects which you saw at Cluny, unrelieved for the most part by classical example, in order to measure the distance which separates the Italians of this epoch from their contemporaries north of the Alps. Recollect, too, that the Italian Renaissance grew of itself from within, while the French was an artificially cultivated exotic.
On the right and left of the door are early squat figures of Strength and Prudence, Italian sculpture of the thirteenth century, still exhibiting many Gothic characteristics, but with a nascent striving after higher truth which began with the school of the Pisani at Pisa. Opposite them, Justice and Temperance, completing the set of the four cardinal virtues. These may be looked upon as the point of departure. They show the first germ of Renaissance feeling.
Left of doorway, good Madonna from Ravenna; flanked by two innocent-faced angels, in deacon’s dress, drawing aside a curtain from a tomb, – beautiful work of the Pisan school of the fourteenth century : contrasted with the best French reliefs at Cluny (such as the legend of St. Eustace), these works exhibit the early advance of art in Italy. Between them (contrasting well with the early French style, as much more idealised), terra-cotta painted Madonna and Child. Beneath, good Madonna in wood, and painted gesso Madonnas, later. Near the window, beautiful bust of a child, by Donatello, exhibiting the exquisite unconscious naiveté of the early Renaissance. Most of these works are so fully described on their pedestals that I shall only call attention to a few characteristics. The emaciated figure of the Magdalen, in a Glory of Cherubs, below, is the conventional representation of that saint, when a penitent in Provence, being daily raised aloft to the beatific vision : many examples occur at Florence. The beautiful little terra-cotta Madonna under a canopy close by is admirable in feeling. Opposite it, characteristic decorative work of the Renaissance. Then, ** Donatello’s naif Young St.
John, the patron saint of Florence, is another exquisite example of this beautiful sculptor. The open mouth is typical. A Lucretia, near it, indicates the general tendency to imitate the antique, still more marked in the relief of a funeral ceremony, where the boy to the right is especially pleasing. Do not overlook a single one of the Madonnas in this delightful room : the one above the funeral relief, though skied, is particularly pleasing. Even the large painted wooden Sienese Madonna in the centre, though the merest church furniture, has the redeeming touch of Italian idealism. The busts of Roman emperors, imitated after the antique, betray on the other hand the true spring of Renaissance impulse.
The room beyond, to the right No. VII. is filled for the most part with fine coloured terra-cottas or majolicas of the school of Della Robbia. Centre of left wall, at the end (as you enter), Madonna and Child, with St. Roch showing his plague spot, and St. Francis pointing to the stigma in his side, a votive offering. Fine nude figure, to the left of it, of Friendship, by Olivieri. Exquisite little cherubs and angels. Bronze busts, instinct with Renaissance feeling Window wall, centre, a Della Robbia of the Agony in the Garden : the arrangement is conventional, and occurs in many other works in this gallery. It is flanked by two good Apostles of the Pisan school (the first to imitate the antique) from the Cathedral of Florence. On the far left a voluptuous figure of Nature by Tribolo, from Fontainebleau, characteristic of the works collected by François Ier. On the right wall, several Madonnas, all of which should be closely studied. In the centre, terra-cotta of the school of Donatello. To the right and left of it, fine busts of the Italian Renaissance, with most typical faces. Near the door, portrait-statue of Louis XII. by Lorenzo da Mugiano ; this king was the precursor of the French Renaissance : note the fine decorative work on his greaves and knee-caps. In the centre, a fine St. Christopher, his face distorted by the weight of the (non-existent) Christ Child. I note these in particular, but all the works in these two rooms should be closely followed, both as exhibiting the development from traditional forms, and as illustrating the style of art on which the French Renaissance was grafted. Notice, for instance (as survival, modified), the quaint little St. Catherine, in the corner by the window, bearing her wheel, and laying her hand with a caressing gesture on the donor,- a special votary, evidently. Observe, again, the three little scenes from the life of St. Anne, in gilt wood, under the large Della Robbia of the Ascension, on the wall opposite the windows. They represent respectively the Rejection of Joachim’s Offering (he is expelled from the Temple by the High Priest, because he is child-less : notice his servant carrying the lamb for sacrifice) ; the Birth of the Virgin (with the usual details of St. Anne in bed washing her hands, the bath for the infant, and the attend-ant bringing in a roast chicken to the mother) ; and the Meeting of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate, a scene which you may often recognise elsewhere (it comes immediately after the first, the Birth being interposed as principal subject ; the servant here bears the rejected lamb less ceremonially). Beneath them, once more, a characteristically dainty St. George and the Dragon with the beautiful princess most heartlessly fleeing (as always) in the distance —should be carefully noted for comparison later with Michel Colombe and Raphael (St. George’s lance, is accidentally broken : you can still see the stump of it). To the left, again, is a beautiful Tabernacle of the Della Robbia school, angels guarding relics. To the right, a terra-cotta angel, most graceful and beautiful. Further left, charming Madonna : I need hardly call attention to the frames of fruit, which were a Della Robbia specialty. Further to the right, Baptism of Clovis, gilt, and very spirited, though overcrowded. Do not overlook the skied St. Sebastian.
The little room beyond again. contains a small but interesting collection of early Christian works, which must be visited and studied on some other occasion. These very ancient Christian sculptures, antique in conception, antedate the rise of the conventional representations.
Now return through Room VI. to the Salle de Michel Ange (Room V.), containing for the most part still more developed works of the Italian Renaissance, which therefore stand more directly in connection with French sculpture of that and the succeeding period. The *door-way by which we enter is a splendid specimen of a decorated Italian Renaissance portal, re-moved from the Palazzo Stanga at Cremona ; it was executed by the brothers Rodari at the end of the fifteenth century, and is decorated with medallions of Roman emperors, a figure of Hercules (the mythical founder of Cremona), and of Perseus, together with reliefs from the myths of those heroes and others. Identify these. Above the name of Perseus, for example (to the right), is a relief representing the three Gorgons and the head of Pegasus. Above that of Hercules (to the left) are the heads of the Hydra which he slew (as also represented in a bronze on the end wall not far from it). This gateway you should mentally compare, when you visit the École des Beaux-Arts, with that of Diane de Poitiers’s Château d’Anet, now erected in the courtyard, and with the façade of the Château de Gaillon at the same place. The beautiful Italian Renaissance fountain in the centre of the room comes itself from the same Château de Gaillon : it was given to Cardinal d’Amboise (who built the château) by the Re-public of Venice.
The most beautiful works in this room, how-ever, are the two so-called Fettered Slaves, by Michael Angelo, in reality figures of the Virtues, designed for the monument of Julius II. It was Michael Angelo’s fate seldom to finish anything he began. This splendid monument, interrupted by the too early death of the Pope who commissioned it, was to have embraced (among other features) figures of the Virtues, doomed to extinction by the death of the pontiff. These are two of them : the one to the right, unfinished, is of less interest : that to the left, completed, is of the exquisite beauty which this sculptor often gave to nude youthful male figures. They represent the culminating point of the Italian Renaissance, and should be compared with the equally lovely sculptures of the Medici tombs in San Lorenzo at Florence. Observe them well as typical examples of Michael Angelo’s gigantic power and mastery over marble.
You will note in the windows close by several exquisite bronze reliefs ; eight of them, by Riccio, are from the monument of the famous anatomist, Della Torre, representing his life and death in very classical detail. (Left-hand window) Della Torre lecturing at Verona ; dangerously ill ; sacrifice to the gods for his recovery ; his death and mourning: (right-hand window) his obsequies ; passage of the soul as a naked child with a book) in Charon’s boat (pursued by Furies) ; apotheosis (crowned by Fame) ; and celebrity of the deceased on earth ; all designed in a thoroughly antique manner. (Souls of the recently dead are frequently rep-resented leaving the body like new-born children.) This work shows the Renaissance not only as secular and humanist, but even as pagan ; early ages would have considered such treat-ment impious. All the other reliefs in this very important room should be carefully noted. By this (right-hand) window, the Annunciation (from Cremona) ; Judgment of Solomon (now wholly conceived in the classical spirit) ; Ado-ration of the Magi, in bronze ; figures of Galba and Faustina, entirely antique in tone ; Paul shaking off the snake, etc. A portrait medal-lion of Ludovico il Moro of Milan (also by this window) may be instructively compared with those in contemporary Italian paintings upstairs. The next (left-hand) window (with a rosso antico and marble imitation of the Wolf of the Capitol) contains the beginning of the reliefs from the tomb of Della Torre, in the same classical style, together with two exquisite Madonnas by Mino da Fiesole, and other charming works of the same period. The infantile simplicity of Mina has an unspeakable attraction. Between the windows, a Pietà from Vicenza, with St. Jerome, beating his breast, as always, with a stone, and St. Augustin (I think) writing. On the far wall, note a fine wooden Annunciation in two figures, from Pisa, of the Florentine fourteenth century. The angel Gabriel and the Madonna are frequently thus separated. Between them admirable equestrian figure of Robert Malatesta, of Rimini, where the action of the horse is particularly spirited. Fine bust of Philippo Strozzi, by Benedetto da Majano, on a pedestal close by. (You will find many works by this artist for this patron at Florence.) The various Virgins on the right wall should also be carefully studied, as well as the fine wooden Circumcision, a good rendering of the traditional scene, where the artist triumphs over his intractable material, and the exquisitely dainty bust of the Florentine ** Baptist, instinct with the tender simplicity of Mino da Fiesole, whose decorative fragments above must not be overlooked. Do not leave this room without having carefully examined everything it contains, as every object is deserving of study.
For instance, I have omitted to mention works so fine as the self-explanatory High Renaissance Jason, the relief of Julius Cæsar, the splendid bust of Beatrice d’Este (see for this family the Perugino, etc., upstairs), and the spirited bronze of Michael Angelo, lined with the lines of a thinker who has struggled and suffered. Finally, sit long on the bench between the windows, and look well at the Nymph of Fontainebleau, with stag and wild boar, by Benvenuto Cellini, the great Florentine metal-worker whom François Ier commissioned to produce this work for Fontainebleau. (But Henri II. gave it instead to Diane de Poitiers, for her Château d’Anet.) Cellini’s work gave an immense impetus to French sculpture, and it is largely on his style that Jean Goujon and the great French sculptors we have shortly to examine formed their conceptions. Voluptuous and overlithe, this fine relief is a splendid example of its able, unscrupulous, deft-handed artist, — seldom powerful or deep, yet always exquisite in tone and perfect in handicraft.
Now, in order to form a just conception of the rise of the French school of sculpture, traverse the Salle de Jean Goujon and the other rooms which succeed it, till you come to the last room of the suite, officially No. I., the Salle d’André Beauneveu. This vault-like hall contains works of the early French school of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, still for the most part purely Gothic, and uninfluenced in any way by Italian models. Among them we notice, at the far end of the room, near the door which leads into the Egyptian Museum, several statuettes of Our Lady and Child, of a character with which Cluny has already made us acquainted. Invariably crowned and noble, they represent the Madonna as the Queen of Heaven, not the peasant of Bethlehem. This regal conception, and, still more, the faint simper, are intensely French, and mark them off at once from most Italian Ma-donnas. Further on, by the end window, the figures of angels, of St. John Baptist, and of a nameless king, are also thoroughly French in character ; while the dainty little Burgundian choir of angels, holding, as they sing, a scroll with a Gloria, is in type half German. Note also the numerous recumbent effigies from tombs, among the best of which are those of Catherine d’Alençon and of Anne of Burgundy, Duchess of Bedford. The tombs at this end have still the stiff formality of the early Gothic period. The strange recumbent figure in the centre, supported by most funereal mourners (placed too low to be seen properly), is the tomb of Philippe Pot, Grand Seneschal of Burgundy under John the Good, from the Abbey of Citeaux. Such mourners are characteristic of the monumental art of Burgundy. One more occurs under a canopy near the middle window ; you will recollect to have seen others (from the tomb of Philippe le Hardi) at Cluny. Further on in the room we get more Madonnas, whose marked French type you will now be able to recognise. Good recumbent figures of a bishop, and of Philip VI., sufficiently described by the labels, and other excellent statues, one of the best of which is the child in the centre. The king and queen by the doorway are also fine examples of the art of the fifteenth century. Notice the dates of all these figures, as given by the labels, and convince yourself from them (as you can do still more fully in the next room, that French art itself made a domestic advance from the eleventh century, onward, wholly independent of Italian influence. This advance was due in the main to national devel opment, and to the slow recovery of trade and handicraft from the barbarian irruption. What was peculiar to Italy was the large survival of antique works, which the school of Pisa, and others after them, strove to imitate. In France, till François Ier, no such classical influence intervenes ; the development is all home-made and organic. But if you contrast the busts by the west doorway, or the tombstone of Pierre de Fayet, near them, with the ruder work by the first window in the next room, the reality of this advance will become at once apparent to you. The artists, though still hampered by tradition, are striving to attain higher perfection and greater truth to nature. Do not miss in this connection the excellent wooden Flagellation by the middle window, nor the Madonna opposite it ; nor the donor and donatrix close by ; nor the fine mutilated Annunciation (with lily between the figures) by the west window ; nor the well-carved Nativity (clearly Flemish, however) near the seat by the doorway. In this last, observe the quaint head-dress of the donatrix in the background (an unusual position), as well as the conventional ox and ass, and the Three Kings approaching in the upper right-hand corner, balanced by the shepherds listening to the angels. St. Joseph’s candle is, however, a novelty. I merely note these points to show how much there may often be in seemingly unimportant objects. This is officially called an Adoration of the Shepherds, but, if you look into it, you will see, erroneously. The person entering from behind is a mere modern spectator. Study well the works in this room and the next, regarded as a starting-point.
In the passage leading into the next room are a truncated statue of St. Denis, from his Basilica (to be visited later), and, beyond it, a group of Hell from the same church. Notice the usual realistic jaws of death, vomiting flame and swallowing the wicked. Observe also that souls are always represented as nude. Opposite this, a mutilated fragment of St. Denis bearing his head, and accompanied by his two deacons, St. Rusticus and St. Eleutherius. I have not hitherto called attention to these two attendant deacons, but you will find them present in almost all representations of St. Denis. (Look for them among the paintings.) Try to build up your knowledge in this way, by adding point to point as you proceed, and afterward returning to works earlier visited, which will gain fresh light by comparison with those seen during your more recent investigations.
Enter Room II.: Salle du Moyen Age. Notice, first, the fragments by the window ; those numbered 19 to 22 are good typical examples of the rude work of the Romanesque period (tenth to twelfth centuries). 23, beside them, shows the improvement which came in with the Gothic epoch, as well as the distinctive Gothic tone in execution, softer and rounder, with just a touch of foolish infantile simplicity or inanity. Observe all the other heads here, and compare their dates, as shown on the labels. Two beautiful angels, from the tomb of the brother of St. Louis, will indicate this gradual advance in execution, wholly anterior to any Renaissance influence. On the right side of the window, notice particularly an admirable head of the Virgin, 76, and another near it, from the cathedral of Sées. On the pillar, St. Denis bearing his head. Every one of these capitals and heads should be closely noted, with reference to the dates shown on the label. In the little Madonna on the left-hand window, observe a nascent attempt to introduce an element of playfulness which is characteristically French. This increases later. It develops into the gracethe somewhat meretricious grace of more recent French sculpture.
Now turn to the body of the room. On the right wall, 53, an excellent angel. Beyond it, the Preaching of St. Denis ; observe that he is here attended by his two faithful deacons ; the gateway indicates that he preaches at Paris. Such little side-indications are common in early art : look out for them. Above it, Christ in Hades, redeeming Adam and Eve, as the first-fruits of the souls, from Limbo ; the devil bound in chains on the ground beneath them ; you saw several similar works at Cluny. Further on, another Madonna and Child, with the same at-tempt at playfulness ; notice here Our Lady’s slight simper, a very French feature ; the Child carries a goldfinch, which you will frequently find, if you look for it, in other representations, both French and Italian. The coloured relief of Pilate recalls those in the ambulatory at Notre-Dame. (Read in every case the date and place whence brought here.) Beneath it are the Flagellation, Bearing of the Cross, Crucifixion, and Entombment, which may be profitably compared with other examples.
(If, after observing the French type of Madonna in these rooms, and the few Burgundian works they contain, you have time to revisit the medieval sculpture at Cluny, Room VI., ground floor, as I strongly advise you to do, you will find that Burgundian art in the Middle Ages was quite distinct from French, and had types of its own, approximating to the Flemish, and still more to the German. This is well seen in the Burgundian Madonna and St. Catherine at Cluny. For study of the style, it is a good plan to stop at Dijon on your way to or from Switzerland.)
The end of the room is occupied by a Gothic doorway from a house in Valencia (Spain), which may be contrasted with the scarcely later Renaissance example from the Palazzo Stanga. On its top is an Annunciation, representations of which are frequent in similar situations ; we saw one on the façade of St. Etienne du Mont ; in such cases, the Madonna is almost always separated by some form of wall, door, or ornament from the angel Gabriel ; here, the finial represents the usual pot of lilies. Below it, a very characteristic French Madonna, again slightly smirking, and with the Child bearing the goldfinch. Note once more the royal air, the affected lady-like manner, given to the Madonna in early French sculpture and painting. To its left is a similar regal painted Ma-donna. To the right, gorgeous coloured statue of King Childebert, of the thirteenth century : this once stood at the entrance to the beautiful refectory of the Abbey of St. Germain-des-Prés (see later), which Childebert founded, and where the king was buried. Left wall, fragment of a coloured stone relief, Judas Receiving Payment, of the same type as those in Notre-Dame. Further on, a similar Kiss of Judas. (Compare this with several specimens at Cluny.) The mutilated state of many of these fragments is in several instances due to the Revolution. All the other statues and fragments in this compartment should be carefully examined, including the strange scene from a Hell, and the stiff wooden Madonna, on pedestals in the centre. By the doorway, painted Virgin and Child, the Madonna under a little canopy, and very typical of French conceptions.
Room III., Salle de Michel Colombe, represents the advance made in French plastic art during the last half of the fifteenth century, and the beginning of the sixteenth century, in some cases independently of the Italian Renaissance. The bust of François Ier, in bronze, on a pedestal near the door, may be compared, both for spirit and likeness, with the (very wooden) contemporary portraits of the same king in the French school up-stairs. It has all the stiffness and archaic fidelity of early portraiture, with the usual lack of artistic finish. Note such little points as that the king wears the collar of his order, with the St. Michael of France as a pendant. Near the window fragments of work displaying Renaissance influence. One, a relief of the Return of the Master, from the Château de Gaillon (built by Cardinal d’Amboise, minister of Louis XII., and one of the great patrons of the Renaissance in France), exhibits the be-ginning of a taste for secular, domestic, and rustic subjects, which later became general. (Early work is all sacred, then comes mythical ; lastly, human and contemporary.) Note, on the opposite side, the fine bronze of Henri Blondel de Rocquencourt, under Henri II.
The Apollo and Marsyas is strongly Renaissance, a mythic subject (see the Perugino up-stairs). The Massacre of the Innocents exhibits Renaissance treatment of a scriptural scene. The centre of the room is occupied by fine bronzes of the school of Giovanni da Bologna, a Frenchman who worked in Italy and forms a link between the art of the two countries. Observe the decorative French slenderness and coquetry of form, combined with the influence of the Italian Renaissance. The Mercurylight and airy is a replica of Giovanni da Bologna’s own famous statue in the Bargello at Florence. The Mercury and Psyche beside it is a splendid example of Giovanni da Bologna’s school, by Adrian de Vries. Notice the French tinge in the voluptuous treatment of the nude, and the slenderness and grace of the limbs. The bronze statue of Fame, from the tomb of the Duc d’Epernon, exhibits in a less degree the same characteristics. It is obviously suggested by Giovanni’s Mercury.
Along the wall to the left, the most notice-able work is the splendid marble relief of St. George, by the great French sculptor Michel Colombe, produced for the chapel of the Chateau de Gaillon ; recollect all these Gaillon objects, and their connection with one another; the château was erected under Louis XII., at the dawn of the French Renaissance, and much of its work, like this fine relief, shows a considerable surviving Gothic feeling. You will see the façade of the château later at the École des Beaux-Arts. It is interesting to compare this splendid piece of sculpture with the little Della Robbia in the Italian rooms, and the painting by Raphael up-stairs : the dragon here is a fearsome and very medimval monster, but the St. George and his horse are full of life and spirit, and the fleeing princess in the background is delicately French in attitude and conception. The dragon is biting the saint’s lance, which accounts for its broken condition in the Raphael and the Mantegna. Comparison of the various St. Georges in this collection, indeed, will give you an admirable idea of the way in which a single conventional theme, embracing always the very same elements, is modified by national character, and by the individuality of the artist. To under-stand this is to have grasped art-history. (Note that the legend of St. George itself is in one aspect a Christianisation of the myth of Perseus and Andromeda.)
Beneath the St. George stands a fine Dead Christ, also exhibiting characteristic French treatment. The somewhat insipid, but other-wise excellent Madonna and Child, on a pedestal close by, is admirable as exemplifying the transformation of the smirking Madonnas of the Middle Ages into the type of the Renaissance. The Death of the Virgin, near it, from St. Jacques-de-la-Boucherie (of which only the tower now remains), suggests to one’s mind the riches which must once have belonged to the demolished churches of Paris, mostly,, alas ! destroyed at the great Revolution. Observe in this work the figures of the attendant apostles, the Renaissance architecture of the background, and the soul of the Madonna ascending above, escorted by angels, to heaven. More naïve, and somewhat in the earlier style, is the Nativity above it, flanked by the two St. Johns, the Baptist and the Evangelist. The tomb of Philippe de Commynes also illustrates the older feeling, as yet little influenced by the Italian irruption. Note that the works which betray the greatest Italian influence are chiefly connected with the royal châteaux and palaces of François Ier and his Italianate successors, or their wives and mistresses ; the nation as yet is little touched by the new models.
The bronze tomb of Alberto Pio of Savoy, by Ponzio, on the other hand, exhibits strongly the Italian tendency, and should be compared with the earlier recumbent tombs, behind in Room I., as showing the survival of the medieval type, transmuted and completely revivified. The same may be said of the tomb of Philippe de Chabot, which, however, is more distinctively French and much less markedly Italian. See how the early prostrate effigies become here recumbent : the figure, as it were, is trying to raise itself. In comparing the various works in this room, endeavour to note these interlacing points of resemblance and difference. The beautiful Genii above are parts of the same tomb, and are exquisite examples of the minor work of the French Renaissance. Passing the Italian Tacca’s admirable bust of Giovanni da Bologna, we come to an excellent Entombment, of the French school, from St. Eustache, which should be compared with earlier specimens in the adjacent rooms. Beneath it, a fine fragment by Jean Cousin. Still lower, a Passage of the Red Sea, beginning to display that con-fused composition and lack of unity or simplicity which spoiled the art of the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The fine Madonna and Child close by should be compared with the very similar example opposite, as well as with its predecessors in other centuries. (Comparison of varying versions of the same theme is always more instructive than that of different subjects.) The tomb of Abbot Jean de Cromois, with its Renaissance framework, shows a survival of earlier tendencies ; as does also that of Roberte Legendre, though the figures of Faith and Hope (Charity is missing) are distinctly more recent in type than the recumbent effigy. Those who have time to notice and hunt up the coats of arms on the various tombs will often find they shed interesting light on their subjects. Observe also the churches from which these various monuments have been removed, a point which will fit in with your previous or subsequent knowledge of the buildings in many cases.
The last window contains a few works of the German school, which it is interesting to compare with their French contemporaries. Thus, the shrewd, pragmatical, diplomatic head of Frederick the Pacific, a coarse, cunning self-seeker, is excellently contrasted with the French portrait-busts. The little scene of the Holy Family, after Durer, which should be closely studied, is essentially German in the domestic character of its carpenter’s shop, in the broad peasant faces of its Madonna and attendant angels, in the playful touches of the irreverent cherubs, and in the figure of the Almighty appearing in clouds at the summit of the composition. The Kiss of Judas, opposite it, is also characteristically German ; notice the brutal soldiers, whose like we have seen in woodwork at Cluny : the bluff St. Peter with the sword is equally noteworthy ; in the background are separate episodes, such as the Agony in the Garden ; though officially ascribed to the French school, this is surely the work of a deft but unideal German artist. Do not neglect the many beautiful decorative fragments collected in this room, nor the fine busts, mostly of a somewhat later period.
Now enter Room VIII., the Salle de Jean Goujon. The magnificent collection of works contained in this room embraces the finest specimens of French Renaissance work of the school of the great artist whose name it bears, and of his equally gifted contemporary, Germain Pilon. They represent the plastic side of the school of Fontainebleau. In the centre is Jean Goujon’s ** Huntress Diana, with her dogs and stag; it was probably executed for Diane de Poitiers, and comes from the Château d’Anet, presented to her by her royal lover. (Note all the works from the Château d’Anet, which is a destroyed museum of the art of the Renaissance.) Observe on the base the mono-gram of H. and D., which recurs on contemporary portions of the Louvre. The decorative lobsters and crayfish on the pedestal should also be noted. Diana herself strikes the keynote of all succeeding French sculpture. Beautiful, coquettish, lithe of limb, and with the distinctive French elegance of pose, this figure nevertheless contains in it the germs of rapid decadence. It suggests the genesis of the eighteenth century, and of the common ormolu clock of commerce. Step into the next room and compare it with the Nymph of Fontainebleau, by Benvenuto Cellini. You will there see how far the Florentine artist approached the French, and how much the Frenchman borrowed from the Florentine. Walk round and observe on either side this the most triumphant work of the French Renaissance. Ob-serve also its relations to the Diana of Versailles, in the Classical Gallery, brought to France by François Ier, and its general debt to the antique, as well as to contemporary Italy.
Perhaps still more beautiful is the exquisite ** group of the Three Graces, supporting an urn, by Germain Pilon, intended to contain the heart of Henry II., and commissioned by Catherine de Médicis. It once stood in the Church of the Celestines. Here again one sees the delicacy and refinement of the French Renaissance, with fewer marks of its inherent defects than in Jean Goujon’s statue. Sit long and study this exquisite trio, which the Celestines piously described as the Theological Virtues. Walk round it and observe the admirably natural way in which the figures are united by their hands in so seemingly artificial a position. The charmingly triangular pedestal is by the Florentine sculptor, Domenico del Barbiere.
The third object in the centre of the room is the exquisite group of the ** Four Theological Virtues, in wood, also by Germain Pilon, which, till the Revolution, supported the reliquary containing the remains of Ste. Geneviève, in St. Étienne-du-Mont, and earlier still in the old church now replaced by the Panthéon. These are probably the finest figures ever executed in this difficult material. The faces and attitudes deserve from every side the closest study. If you have entered into the spirit of these three great groups in the centre of this room, you have succeeded in understanding the French Renaissance.
Now, begin at the further wall, in the body of the Salle, and observe, first, the exquisite reliefs of ” Tritons and Nereids, with Nymphs of the Seine, by Jean Goujon. Read the labels. We shall visit hereafter the fountain of which these graceful and delicate reliefs once formed a portion. The nymph to the left is one of the loveliest works ever produced by its sculptor, and is absolutely redolent of Renaissance spirit. It indicates the change which had come over French handicraft, under the influence of its Italian models, at the same time allowing the national spirit to shine through in a way which it never succeeded in doing in contemporary painting. Beneath it are two noble figures in bronze, from the tomb of Christopher de Thou, attributed to an almost equally great artist, Barthélemy Prieur. Frémin Roussel’s Genius of History still more markedly anticipates more recent French tendencies. It is intensely mod-ern. Germain Pilon’s monumental bronze of René Birague prepares us for the faults of the French works of this style in the Louis XIV. period. Mere grandiosity and ostentation are here foreshadowed. The centre of the next wall is occupied by Germain Pilon’s fine chimney-piece, with Jean Goujon’s bust of Henri II. as its central object. The decorative Renaissance work on this mantel should be closely studied, as well as that so vastly inferior on the adjacent later columns of the age of Louis XIV. Barthélemy Prieur’s exquisite bronzes from the tomb of the Constable Anne de Montmorency also breathe a profoundly French spirit. The figures represent Justice, Courage, and Abundance. Germain Pilon’s too tearful Mater Dolorosa (painted terra-cotta) close by, from the Sainte Chapelle, indicates the beginnings of modern French taste in church furniture. His recumbent tomb of Valentine Balbiani, on the other hand, is admirable as portraiture ; but the genius of the artist is only fully displayed in the repulsive figure of the same body seen emaciated in death and de-composition beneath it. Barthélemy Prieur’s recumbent figure of Anne de Montmorency shows survival ,of the older type, doubtless due to the prejudices of patrons.
Above it is an admirable piece of Renaissance sculpture, by Jean Goujon, for the decoration of the rood-loft (now removed) in St. Germain l’Auxerrois. The rare beauty of the existing one at St. Etienne-du-Mont (by a far inferior artist) enables us to estimate the loss we have sustained by its disappearance. The Deposition, in the centre, marked by the highly classical style and secular or almost sensuous beauty of its Maries, and the anatomical knowledge displayed in its Dead Christ, should be contrasted with earlier specimens in adjacent rooms. In the accompanying figures of the four Evangelists, notice how earlier conceptions of the writers and their attendant symbols have been altogether modified by a Raphaelesque spirit. You would scarcely notice the eagle, angel, bull, and lion (compare Sacchi up-stairs), unless you were told to look for them. Germain Pilon’s Agony in the Gar-den displays an exactly similar transformation of a traditional subject.
Some interesting works are placed near the windows. In the first is a fragment from the pulpit of the Church of the Grands Augustins in Paris, by Germain Pilon, representing Paul Preaching at Athens. The bald head and long beard of the Apostle of the Gentiles are traditional ; the figure is modelled on Italian precedents ; here again the female auditors are introduced entirely in the classical spirit, and treated with Renaissance love for exuberant femininity. Nominally sacred, such works as this are really nothing more than sensuous and decorative in their tendencies. The Church accepted them because they were supposed to be artistic. Other fragments opposite exemplify the same baneful tendency, pregnant with decadence. Christ and the Woman of Samaria (with her classical urn) is a subject we have already met with elsewhere : here, it is much permeated by Renaissance feeling. The Preaching of St. John Baptist gives the artist an opportunity for introducing two attractive female listeners. In the second window, the contrast between the comparatively archaic St. Eloi from Dijon, and the nymphs of the school of Jean Goujon, is sufficiently abrupt to point its own moral. Germain Pilon’s Entombment may be instructively compared with Jean Goujon’s and others ; the Magdalen here is an admirable figure. Glance across from one to the other and note the resemblance. Even at this late date, how close is the similarity in the attitudes of the chief actors ! They almost correspond figure for figure : Joseph of Arimathæa, and then Nicodemus, supporting the dead Christ ; next, the fainting Madonna, in the arms of one of the Maries ; then, the Magdalen at the foot, with her box of ointment, and the mourning women ; all stand in the sanie relations in the two reliefs. If you will compare both paintings and sculptures in this manner, you will learn how much the artist borrowed in each case from predecessors, and exactly how much is his own invention. Opposite the Entombment are other nymphs of the school of Jean Goujon, and a characteristic transitional figure of a Donor and his Family, showing a distinct attempt to treat an old motive by the new methods. On the left is the donor, kneeling, introduced by his patron, St. John Baptist ; on the right are two ladies of his family, introduced by a sainted bishop and an abbot ; near them, their children, kneeling, but with some genial allowance for the sense of tedium in infancy ; in the back-ground, Renaissance architecture, with quaint bas-reliefs of Samson carrying off the gates of Gaza ; the Resurrection and Appearance to the Apostles ; the Supper at Emmaus ; and Jonah emerging from the mouth of the whale. Works like these, often artistically of less importance, nevertheless not infrequently throw useful light on the nature of the conditions under which the sculptor worked, the trammels of tradition, the struggle to wriggle out of the commands of a patron, who desires to see reproduced the types of his childhood. The third window contains some charming but mutilated fragments from the tomb of the Duc de Guise ; more figures by Germain Pilon ; and a thoroughly Renaissance Awakening of the Nymphs, attributed (with little doubt) to Frémin Roussel. Germain Pilon’s good bust of Charles IX. strikes the keynote of the king’s vain and heartless character. The baby Christ, by Richier, though evidently suffering from water on the brain, is otherwise a charming early French conception of soft innocence and infantile grace. Notice, above this, a somewhat transitional Pietà, placed as a votive offering (like so many other things) in the old church of Ste. Geneviève, with the kneeling donor represented as looking on, after the earlier fashion. The judgment of Daniel, attributed to Richier, though splendid in execution, forms an example of the more crowded and almost confused composition which was beginning to destroy the unity and simplicity of plastic art. As a whole, the works in this room should be attentively and closely studied, illustrating as they do the one exquisite moment of perfect fruition, when the French Renaissance burst suddenly into full flower, to be succeeded almost at once by painful degeneracy and long slow decadence. I would specially recommend you to compare closely the more classical works of this room with those in the adjoining Salle de Michel Ange in order to recognise the distinctively French tone as compared with the Italian. The importance of these various rooms, of both nationalities, to a comprehension of Paris and French art in general, cannot be over-estimated. By their light alone can you fully understand the fabric of the Louvre itself, the Luxembourg, the Renaissance churches, the tombs at St. Denis, and above all, Fontainebleau, St. Germain, Versailles itself, and the entire development of architecture and sculpture from François Ier to the Revolutionary epoch. Especially should you always bear in mind the importance of works from the Château de Gaillon (early) and Château d’Anet (full French Renaissance).
In the vestibule, as you pass out, notice a copy in bronze, probably by Barthélemy Prieur, of the antique Huntress Diana, the original of which we have already noticed in the Classical Gallery. It helps to accentuate the direct dependence of French Renaissance sculpture upon the classical model as well as upon that of the contemporary Italians. Observe that while each of these arts is based upon the antique, it necessarily follows the antique models then and there known to it, not the “Venus of Milo ” discovered in 1820, or the figures from Olympia of quite recent discovery.