Taking its name from medieval troubadours, the Troubadour Style, style troubadour in French, was a somewhat derisive term for French historical painting of the early 19th century with idealised depictions of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It can be seen as an aspect of Romanticism and a reaction against Neoclassicism, which was coming to an end at the end of the Consulate, and became particularly associated with Josephine Bonaparte and Caroline Ferdinande Louise, duchesse de Berry. In architecture the style was an exuberant French equivalent to the Gothic Revival of the Germanic and Anglophone countries. The style related to contemporary developments in French literature, and music, but the term is usually restricted to painting and architecture.
The rediscovery of medieval civilization was one of the intellectual curiosities of the beginning of the 19th century, with much input from the Ancien Régime and its institutions, rites (the coronation ceremony dated back to the 16th century) and the medieval churches in which family ceremonies occurred.
Even while exhuming the remains of the kings and putting on the market a multitude of objects, works of art and elements of medieval architecture, the revolutionaries brought them back to life, it could be said. The Musée des monuments français (Museum of French Monuments), established in the former convent that would become Paris’s École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, presented all this glorious debris of the Middle Ages as subjects of admiration for the public and as models of inspiration for students of the departments of engraving, painting and sculpture, but not those of architecture since teaching of this subject had been dissociated from the “beaux-arts” and placed in the École centrale des travaux publics under the direction of J.N.L Durand, a harsh promoter of the neoclassical architecture that characterized the styles of the Convention and Consulate. Later, from the Bourbon Restoration and under the impulse of Quatremère de Quincy and Mérimée, a new tradition of teaching architecture put it back under the fine arts umbrella, in the margins of the declining official school, beginning with private workshops that behaved as diocesan architects working for historic monuments that would give rise to the Société Centrale des Architectes and make Troubador-style architecture possible.
The resurgence of Christian feeling and in Christianity in the arts, with the publication in 1800 of Le Génie du Christianisme (‘the Genius of Christianity’), played a major role in favour of edifying painting, sculpture and literature, often inspired by religion.
Artists and writers rejected the neo-antique rationalism of the French Revolution and turned towards a perceived glorious Christian past. The progress of the history and archaeology in the course of the 18th century began to bear fruit, at first, in painting. Paradoxically these painters of the past were unaware of the primitives of French painting, finding it too academic and not sufficiently filled with anecdote.
Napoleon himself did not disdain this artistic current: he took as his emblem the golden beehive on the grave of the Merovingian king Childeric I, rediscovered in the 17th century, and saw himself as the heir of the French monarchy. He also gave official recognition to the Middle Ages in the forms of his coronation, and tried to profit from other trappings of the medieval French kings, perhaps even their miraculous curative powers (Bonaparte visiting the plague-victims of Jaffa by Antoine-Jean Gros was read as a modern re-envisgaing of the thaumaturgical kings).
Public interest in the Middle Ages in literature first manifested itself in France and above all England. In France, this came with the adaptation and publication from 1778 of ancient chivalric romances by the Comte de Tressan (1707–1783) in his Bibliothèque des romans, and in England with the first fantastical romances, like The Castle of Otranto. These English romances inspired late 18th century French writers to follow suit, such as Donation de Sade with his Histoire secrete d’Isabelle de Baviere, reine de France. The Le Troubadour, poésies occitaniques (1803) by Fabre d’Olivet popularized the term, and may have led to the naming of the style in art. The Waverley Novels of Walter Scott were hugely popular across Europe, and a major influence on both painting and French novelists such as Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo.
In painting, the troubadour style was represented by history painting portraying edifying historical episodes, often borrowing its smoothness, its minute and illusionistic description of detail, its rendering of fabrics, the intimate character of its familiar scenes and its other technical means from Dutch Golden Age painting. The paintings were typically rather small cabinet paintings, often showing quiet intimate anecdotal moments rather than moments of high drama, though these were both depicted. As well as figures from political history, famous artists and authors of the past were often shown, especially Raphael and Dante. Ingres’ Death of Leonardo da Vinci in the arms of King Francois I of France is one of several works bringing rulers and artists together. A number of paintings by Ingres are in the style, and lesser artists such as Pierre-Henri Révoil (1776–1842) and Fleury-François Richard (1777–1852) specialized in the style. The Belgian Henri Leys painted in a more sombre version of the style much influenced by Northern Renaissance painting. Richard Parkes Bonington is better remembered for his landscapes, but also painted in the style, as did Eugène Delacroix. The peak period was brought to an end by the Revolution of 1848, and later the arrival of Realism, although the style arguably merged into late 19th century academic painting. The transition can be seen in the work of Paul Delaroche.
Arguably the first troubadour painting was presented at the Salon of 1802, under the French Consulate. It was a work by Fleury-Richard, Valentine of Milan weeping for the death of her husband, a subject which had come to the artist during a visit to the “musée des monuments français”, a museum of French medieval monuments. A tomb from this museum was included in the painting as that of the wife. Thanks to its moving subject matter, the painting was an enormous success – seeing it, David cried “This resembles nothing anyone else has done, it’s a new effect of colour; the figure is charming and full of expression, and this green curtain thrown across this window renders the illusion complete”. Compositions lit from the back of the scene, with the foreground in semi-darkness, became rather a trademark of the early years of the style.
Fragonard’s painting of François Premier reçu chevalier par Bayard (Francis I knighted by Bayard, Salon of 1819) has to be read not as a rediscovery of a medieval past, but as a memory of a recent monarchic tradition.
Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret, Aretino in the studio of Tintoretto, Salon of 1822.
Madame Cheradame, née Bertaud, The Education of Saint Louis.
Michel Martin Drölling, The Last Communion of Marie-Antoinette, Paris, Conciergerie.
Louis Ducis, Le Tasse reading a passage from his poem Jerusalem Delivered to Princess Éléonore d’Este, formerly in the collection of the Empress Joséphine. Arenenberg, Musée Napoléonien.
Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard, Don Juan, Zerlina and Lady Elvira, Clermont-Ferrand, Musée des Beaux-arts.
Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard, The time approaches.
Alexandre-Evariste Fragonard, François Premier armé chevalier par Bayard (Francis I knighted by Bayard), Meaux, Musée Bossuet.
Baron François Gérard, The Recognition of the Duke of Anjou as King of Spain, Château de Chambord.
Hortense de Beauharnais, The Knight’s Departure c.1812, Château de Compiègne, originally at the château de Pierrefonds.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Francesco da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta, frame designed by Claude-Aimé Chenavard, (1789–1838), Angers, musée des Beaux-arts.
Jean-Baptiste Isabey, A couple descending the staircase of the tourelle at the château d’Harcourt, Salon de 1827.
Alexandre Menjaud, Francis I and “la Belle Ferronnière”, 1810.
Nicolas-André Monsiau, Saint Vincent de Paul welcoming the exposed children, Paris, church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois, copy at Toulouse, musée de la Médecine.
René d’Anjou passing the night at the château of Palamède de Forbin, commissioned by the comte de Forbin, a descendent of René d’Anjou.
The Tourney, 1812, Lyon, musée des Beaux-arts;
The convalescence of Bayard, 1817, Paris, musée du Louvre;
Fleury-Richard, Jacques Molay, Grand Master of the Templars, Acquired after the 1806 Salon by the Empress Joséphine. Inherited from Hortense de Beauharnais.
Louis Rubio, The unlucky Loves of Francesca da Rimini, 1832.
Marie-Philippe Coupin de la Couperie, The Tragic Love of Francesca da Rimini, 1812.
In the eighteenth century there is a craze for medieval architecture, from England or flourishes neo-Gothic style , but in France remains limited to some feudal factories found in castles parks.
After his disappearance in painting, the troubadour style seems to continue, or to be reborn in architecture, the decorative arts, literature and theater. The Abbotsford House, built in Scotland from 1800 by Walter Scott , is the archetypal neo-Gothic or neo-Renaissance castles mixing recovered architectural elements and pastiches.
Château d’Anterroches , Murat, Haute-Auvergne;
Castle Aulteribe , Sermentizon, Auvergne, rebuilt by Henriette Onslow, daughter of the musician ;
Castle du Barry , in Levignac, a neo-Gothic wing dating from the late eighteenth century;
Château de la Rochepot reconstruction by Marie Pauline Cécile Dupond-White (1841-1898), widow Sadi-Carnot;
Château de Challain-la-Potherie , in Challain-la-Potherie , in Anjou , built from 1847 to 1854 for La Rochefoucauld-Bayers , shot by René Hodé ;
Château de Clavières , in Ayrens, Haute-Auvergne, built by Felix de La Salle Rochemaure
Abbey of Hautecombe , in Saint Pierre de Curtille, in Savoy, built by Ernest Melano, under the request of the King of Sardinia Charles-Felix;
Hattonchâtel Castle , built in 1923 on the ruins of a feudal fortress;
Château de Maulmont in Saint-Priest-Bramefant : architect Pierre Fontaine , former hunting rendezvous of the royal domain of Randan which was one of the residences of King Louis-Philippe ;
Galerie Saint-Louis, a courthouse in Paris , built in 1835 by Alphonse de Gisors , instead of a Gothic gallery that he demolished;
Château de Pierrefonds , Eugène Viollet-le-Duc architect;
Castle Sedaiges , Marmanhac, Haute-Auvergne, rebuilt by the architect Parent.
Decorative arts and troubadour style
The troubadour style finds one of its effective representations in private French interiors: furniture and objects of all kinds, from the pendulum to the thimble invade the salons, mainly between 1820 and 1830. The style will however continue to seduce until at the end of the 19th century.
There are notable precursors Troubadour style from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century: between 1788 and 1792, the cabinetmaker Pierre-Antoine Bellangé book Esterhazy count four gilt wood chairs “in the Gothic form.” A few years later, under the Empire, Jacob-Desmalter was inspired by English furniture and executed, among others, a pair of prie-god in 1810 “whose back was cut in Gothic form” for the chapel of Petit-Trianon of the Empress Marie-Louise . The Troubadour style in the decorative arts, however, will extend to the nobility and the bourgeoisie only in the 1820s, especially through Parisian curiosity shops such as the Crystal Staircase , the Coq Saint-Honoré, the famous fashion store. curiosities of the tabletier Alphonse Giroux , or Le Petit Dunkerque In terms of furniture, it retains its classic and comfortable, typical of the era of the Restoration . It is the shape that changes and not the substance: the decorative repertoire evolves, made of many influences (Chinese, Japanese, Eastern, English or Gothic, for example), but is affixed on an agreed form, inherited from the eighteenth century. French century. It will be enough to “replace the classic elements of the files, grids or small columns, a pointed arch of a trefoil.” Then we will take the insurance and, towards 1828, will be inscribed in the arch of the file all a fenestration lanceolate , blooming with ramages, without example in the past. ” We can speak of “the last phase of Classicism”. The ornament, both on the piece of furniture and on the object, is therefore at the center of the craftsmen’s preoccupation: fantastical heraldry, bold colors, unicorns and chimeras mingling with the Gothic-Renaissance decorations, vegetal motifs framing troubadours, knights and preuses … It is these mixes that determine the Troubadour style in the French decorative arts.
In 1824, at the Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie, the Troubadour style already triumphs. King Charles X himself buys some of these curious furniture. “The national antiquary imposes its strange patriotisms” finds, ironically, Henri Bouchot. From the early 1820s, the Countess of Osmond born Aimée Destillières, built in her mansion two rooms in the style Troubadour. 8 Quickly destroyed, these rooms, a lounge and a cabinet, are still known by two watercolors, Auguste Garneray and Hilaire Thierry. The Petit Palais in Paris retains a pair of chairs from the cabinet of the countess, made by the cabinetmaker Jacob-Desmalter, which alone represents a revealing example of the Troubadour style in furniture.
Marie-Caroline, Duchess of Berry will place many orders some of which remain among the most beautiful pieces of Troubadour style. This is the case of a box ordered at the manufacture of Sèvres and made by Jean-Charles François Leloy in 1829. The shape of the box recalls the reliquaries and gothic shrines that the duchess and the draftsman had observed in the medieval religious collections of the Crown. For the apartments of the Duchess to the Tuileries, Jacob-Desmalter book in 1821 a “gothic table ebony intended to receive views of the castle Rosny painted by Isabey ” and “a table decorated with a drawing of Thierry with Ornaments and Gothic warheads carved into the mass of wood. ” The Duchess is not content to order pieces from the greatest artisans of the moment, she also runs novelty shops, “where she makes ample harvest of works of art, bronzes, clocks, furniture and curios. Gothic spirit that romanticism has put back in fashion ” . Marie-Caroline also gives several balls, of which one of the most famous remains the quadrille of Marie Stuart in 1829, immortalized by the watercolors of Eugène Lami and Achille Devéria . The ornament adorned by the Duchess contains miniatures representing the illustrious figures of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and are executed by Eugène Lami.
It may be considered that Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc , much later, will be one of the last representatives of the Troubadour style in architecture and decorative arts, as evidenced by the complete furniture designed for Pierrefonds Castle in the 1860s.
Pair of chairs in the cabinet of the Countess of Osmond, Jacob-Desmalter circa 1817-1820, Paris, Petit Palais
Adornment of the Duchess of Berry for her costume of Mary Stuart, 1829, Museum of Decorative Arts of Bordeaux
Pair of Fragonard vases known as Agnès Sorel and Charles VII, decoration by Fragonard evaristo circa 1825, Cité de la Céramique, Sèvres
Toiletries by the Duchess of Parma, circa 1847, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Pendulum Francoise I and the Queen of Navarre, after Fleury Richard, circa 1843, Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris
Empire style troubadour clock , 1810, by Masure (watchmaker) at Étampes
Du Gesclin chocolate service , Manufacture de Sèvres, Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard carton (1780-1850)
Organ sideboard , Basilica of Saint-Nicolas-de-Port , Joseph Cuvillier (1801-1893) organbuilder in Nancy , 1848 after drawing by Désiré Laurent
Source From Wikipedia