Jean Fouquet

Jean Fouquet ( Tours , 1420 – ibidem, 1481 ) is considered one of the great painters of the Renaissance and early innovator of French painting of the fifteenth century . Trained in the French tradition of International Gothic developed a new style, incorporating strong Gothic color shades with the perspective and volumes Italians and innovation naturalist of flamingos . His masterpieces are the Melun Diptych and thumbnails of the Book of Hours of Etienne Chevalier.

Long recognized in his time, after his work was forgotten until his rehabilitation in the nineteenth century by the romantic French and Germans , interested in art medieval . His work is definitely appreciated during an exhibition on French primitives, organized in the National Library in Paris in 1904, which brought together and know his work dispersed.

Historical context and artistic

In the last third of the fourteenth century , a new painting style swept Europe from the court of the Popes of Avignon . Simone Martini and other Italian and French artists spread naturalistic realism painters of the Sienese school and refinement of calligraphy French miniatures . This style, later called International Gothic, had its main centers in Paris , Siena , Cologne and Bohemia . Paris had become the center of European miniature. With the Duke of Berry, worked the Limbourg brothers , the greatest miniaturists French, who between 1411 and 1416 lit the masterpiece The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry . The fact that the best works of this period are preserved miniatures reveals the preponderance of these over the paint.

In Flanders , the activity starts in 1422 Jan van Eyck , major figure in the history of art and innovator in painting by developing a new way of representing reality. During the fifteenth century, the technique of oil spread from significantly in Flanders. The use of oil as a binder to allow more fluid inks, applied in successive layers almost transparent, got all the gradations of color and brightness. This was achieved represent any object in detail. They also used experimentally all kinds of perspectival systems using empirical methods . His perspective was closer to natural vision and air almost palpable. We were getting by “aerial perspective”, degrading the color to gray-blue for distant objects. The theoretical text perspectival systems picked was the artificiality Nordic perspective, Pelegrin Jean, known as Viator, and that is the equivalent of the Treaty of Alberti for Italian Renaissance painting.

In Italy , in this period, was brewing the Quattrocento , the early Renaissance, an art to the measure of man, with the prospect as pictorial device which produced the illusion of the third dimension. The history of this new language is were in the sculptural representations of Ghiberti , Della Quercia and Donatello . It was in Florence , in 1427, Table of Trinidad , where the painter Masaccio in collaboration with the architect Brunelleschi solved the problems of perspective. Then Leon Battista Alberti , Brunelleschi architect and friend, who had met in Trinidad discussions on how to represent the perspective, conveyed in his De Pictura. Later, from 1430, Paolo Uccello , Andrea del Castagno , Piero della Francesca and Andrea Mantegna have finalized the new language.

France was embroiled in the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) in England . In 1415, Henry V of England landed in Normandy and defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt , taking hostage taking Paris and the French king Charles VI , who forced to recognize the British monarch as heir to the French throne. In these years, war and chaos almost completely obliterated artistic activity in France. On the death of Charles VI in 1429, France in breach agreed crowned the son of Charles VI as the new king, with the name of Charles VII . This established his court in Bourges . Until 1453, the country was not released completely from the English. Charles VII died in 1461 and was succeeded by his son Louis XI , who settled in Tours France’s capital.
Portrait Jester Jester Gonella, Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna .

Jean Fouquet was born between 1415 and 1420 in Tours and died between 1478 and 1481, probably in the same city. Little is known about his life and his career, which is poorly documented. The art world where he received his training is discussed. Is likely to be formed in workshops miniaturists, perhaps in the Bedford Master environment. It is assumed that the Master was Haincelin of Haquenan Bedford, which itself had been formed with Jacques Coene, Flemish painter and illuminator established in Paris. Since the death of the great patron Jean le Berry in 1416 and the British occupation of Paris in 1418, the great workshops Flemish, Italian and French left Paris. Haincelin of Haquenan was one of those who remained in occupied Paris. In this workshop the young Fouquet had come when the city had just been released. He insists that this is speculation, so the tradition that Fouquet is continuation of French illuminators could not be confirmed in the analysis of early works, nor the influence of the Limbourg brothers in his work .

Around 1443-1447, he undertook a trip to Italy, where he lost portrait of Pope Eugenius IV with two officers, who in the past was in the sacristy of the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome . There he came in contact, and perhaps collaborated, with Fra Angelico , whose influence is evident in his later work. Possibly he was also in Florence, where he met the work of the great innovators Tuscan. Probably also docked in Mantua , where he painted the Jester Gonella. According to Giorgio Vasari , Fouquet was an artist much admired in Italy . In addition to meeting with Fra Angelico also worked for the Pope, in Rome must have known reconstructions of villas and excavation of antiquities. In Florence , in San Michele and Santa Maria Novella perhaps could analyze the master of Brunelleschi and Donatello . Surely also contacted Masaccio , Uccello and Piero della Francesca . In Padua , could meet Castagno and Venice with Jacopo Bellini . The influence of Quattrocento Italian it is triple. Internalized the concept of space, decoration and interiors. He learned his color vision, bright and warm. Construzione developed legittima described by the theoretical Leon Battista Alberti in his treatise Della painting.

He returned to France between 1448 and 1450 and, thereafter, he developed his work mainly in Tours, his hometown. He also worked at the court of Charles VII, who painted perhaps in 1450. Yes it is certain that at this time he was commissioned treasurer Etienne Chevalier France than they were his masterpieces: the Melun Diptych and thumbnails of your book of hours. The period in which he painted the portrait of Charles VII also a source of speculation. Some scholars argue that it is a picture that has no Italian influence and it was painted, therefore, before the trip to Italy, and that is the earliest of the painter. Another area of criticism argues that the inscription on the box very victorious King show that the picture was painted after the victory over the English in 1450 at the Battle of Formigny or, later still, in the conquest of Guyenne in 1453.

Since 1459, has an excellent collaborator, called Master Boccace of Munich. It was probably one of his sons, Louis and François, who was actively involved in the family workshop. By 1460 to 1470, he painted the portrait of the French Foreign Minister and Jouvenel des Ursins Nouans Pietà. In 1461 Charles VII died and his son was elected king, Louis XI, who became the official painter from 1475. By 1475, he was commissioned to Jacques Armagnac to finish the Jewish Antiquities of Josephus , who had been left incomplete by the death of Duke Jean de Berry. This work, the first fully confirmed Fouquet, has served to identify the entire corpus of the painter. Jean Fouquet died between 1478 and 1481.

He was a versatile artist. Painter and miniaturist of books, also practiced enamel, glazed, and surely the upholstery. Also organized shows for the Kings. As noted, his life is little known and is being rebuilt through written testimonies of contemporaries. Both their learning, as his trip to Italy, his work in Tours and even his work-which is very scattered and was partially attributed to other artists, is still a source of debate.
Technical and composition
Portrait Jester Jester Gonella.
Portrait Jester Jester Gonella.
Portrait of Charles VII of France.
Portrait of Charles VII of France .

His designs were carefully thought out in advance. He knew the technical aspects necessary to capture the viewer’s attention by a composition based on circles, in the golden ratio and regular polygons. As for the circles, usually employing the center circle and a second half that inscribed in top of the box. Shows the relationship between the two, as the first addresses the more general second particular. Checks in the first three boxes how variation width / length of this affecting the two circles. In the first frame, the larger circle frames the face, arms and hands, while the less confined to the face and hat. In the second box, the king, the larger circle determines the position of the hands, arms and curtains, while the lower frames the face, hat and fur collar.

In the third box, the crucifixion, the larger circle at the bottom profiled Mary’s body lying and soldier playing dice, while the lower part to the three figures clearly crucified. The fourth painting, the Pietà, is a horizontal picture, which was not used, as most of his paintings were vertical. He decided to fix it by applying the two circles, being something strange, perhaps because the viewer more easily encompasses both vertical than horizontal circles. Or perhaps because he was unaware that the viewer’s gaze is first directed clever to examine the right side of the box before the left. In the fifth frame, the artist transforms the two vertical circles on one circle tangent to the upper side makes .

As for the golden ratio or golden number , known since ancient times and was used a lot in the Renaissance , considered the perfect ratio.
Nouans Pietà.
Nouans Pietà.
Emperor Charles IV.
Emperor Charles IV.

Its approximate value is: \ Phi = \ frac {1 + \ sqrt {5}} {2} \ approx 1.618 \,

The Pythagoreans as deduced from geometric shapes circle square and they considered the perfect forms.

Thus, AS (a) is the segment AB aureus (a + b). Also SB (b) is the segment AS aureus (a) Sectio Auria – Golden section.png

Fouquet employed aureus segments corresponding to the total width so as to the total height of the frame. In the second box, the king’s golden two segments used to draw two vertical symmetric delimiting the king’s face. In the third box, the crucifixion, the two vertical used to frame the two central figures and a horizontal back to limit background superiorly people riding. In the fifth frame, only used one of these vertical lines to frame the horse rider and also used a horizontal line segments obtained from golden to the upper limit of the background figures.
Coronation of Louis VI of France, Great Chronicles of France ( National Library of Paris ).

In the miniature of the coronation of Louis VI, there is an “aerial perspective”, which highlights the atmospheric effects. This picture reminds the backdrop of Madonna with Chancellor Nicolas Rollin of Jan van Eyck , painted in 1435. There also Van Eyck used a backlit landscape, ie the light comes from the bottom of the box and the shadows look ahead. Table of Van Eyck’s shadow is seen in front of the bridge like this of Fouquet. Such is the similarity that perhaps, as a tribute, painted also a man leaning out of the castle as the beacon in the painting by Van Eyck.
Detail of the Virgin of Melun Diptych. Museum of Fine Arts , Antwerp .

As noted above, the aerial perspective is achieved by the gradation of gray color to blue for distant objects. These degradations are seen in the table, and because of them achieves these effects: on the side of the castle wall with distance are distinguished five blue degradations, in the reflections of the castle wall in the pit of water is that while the shadow is more distant, fades away, the blue water of the moat as it degrades away to white and occurs similarly in the sky, the shadows of the boat in the water are more degraded the drawbridge, the drawbridge tower is brown brown gradient towers more background on the right, up to the window of the castle is a white sky gradient. Designing these details got our eye observer has a sense of light and feel the air.

In the detail of the face of the Virgin of Melun diptych shows that the oval-shaped face and her face lighting divided into two parts, one smaller with strong shadows and highlights, the other wider with virtually no shadows dominant effect background. Modeling is not continuous: very pronounced shadows on the right, decrease over the left and disappear in the most left. Even areas that should be left shadows, deliberately makes them disappear. This method obtains the left side of the face with a flat eminently component that contrasts with the tension and depth of the shaded part of the right. It is also noted how the look is resolved with some eyelids almost closed and the three light on these areas and lip area.
Flemish and Italian influences
Timothy, of Jan van Eyck (1432). National Gallery of London.
Timothy, of Jan van Eyck (1432). National Gallery in London .
Engraved portrait of Pope Eugene IV disappeared. Jean Fouquet, 1437/1450.
Engraved portrait of Pope disappeared Eugene IV . Jean Fouquet, 1437/1450.

Fouquet was attentive to the news of the Flemish painters, incorporating them into his art. Met, analyzed and assimilated Flemish drawings collections that circulated by French illuminators workshops. is shown in two examples how incorporating the influences of other painters. Thus, in the portrait of Pope Eugene IV, decided from an idea of Timothy box van Eyck. Timothy Van Eyck concluded the same year as the Ghent Altarpiece , so his expertise was in all its fullness. Before a black background, this man is illuminated from the left and is painted on the bottom a sill in trompe pretending stone. The right hand is foreshortened and your elbow is out of the picture.

In the copy of the missing painting of Pope, we see first that the trompe in this case is smaller and has almost no thickness. The artist has defined with a top line of light that contrasts with the shade of the left arm slightly raised, giving a depth effect. The right hand does not leave the table as van Eyck, but also appears foreshortened with the arm that looks, and helps to create depth. The pope’s body is bigger, and smaller head. Both figures have the same quiet and their eyes are deep. However, in the case of potato, guess a more complex personality. That rictus serious Eugenio IV is achieved by checking the rigidity of the muscles of the face and through intense modeling of light and shadow. The result is a completely different picture.

In the second case compares the Crucifixion miniature Chevalier of the Hours with a box van Eyck and Fra Angelico in another that inspired. Particularly in the second experts say the influence of Fra Angelico.
The crucifixion, Fra Angelico, 1437/1446. National Museum of San Marco, Florence.
The crucifixion, Fra Angelico , 1437/1446. Museo Nacional de San Marcos , Florence .
The crucifixion of Jan van Eyck, 1426. Metropolitan Museum, New York.
The crucifixion of Jan van Eyck , 1426 . Metropolitan Museum , New York .
Book of Hours of Etienne Chevalier, Jean Fouquet, 1452/1460. Condé Museum, Chantilly.
Book of Hours of Etienne Chevalier, Jean Fouquet, 1452/1460. Condé Museum, Chantilly .

The Crucifixion of van Eyck has a small size -56.5 x19, 7 cm, and is paired with a universal judgment. There’s a crowd on foot and horseback with crosses: characters in contemporary dress with fur-trimmed coats. The fund is solved with an atmospheric perspective. In the foreground is a group of weeping women, the Virgin and St. John.

Fouquet built a frame at a time similar and different. There are many similarities. The Virgin of San Juan blue and red, are kept in the foreground, although facing represented Christ. The St. John seems the same person in the two tables. Horses so masterfully painted by van Eyck, are now less numerous, but are equally well painted. The rider’s coat with leather trim appears differently in Fouquet. The spears that are drawn in the sky to create the advantage by putting in perspective a decreasing line. The light brown dress Soldier with belting back the sword displayed in the two tables, even his left arm is in the same position. It also frees the area of ​​the cross to show the background a city and the Blue Mountains: Also here is aerial perspective. Now give a general tone blue, when the original was red.

On the box of Fra Angelico San Marcos, should know and admire the extraordinary willingness of the crosses and crucified. With resources scarce be able to create an effect of depth due to the arrangement of horizontal pieces of the crosses of the thieves, magnified by the foreshortening of the arms of the two thieves. Besides the crosses were very high, almost on top of the box, which separated the crucified of his companions. Fouquet does the same: includes a towering cross in a way that manages to highlight the three against the blue sky, especially the Christ.

So it’s reworkings, and Fouquet hides when not supported by a picture of another teacher, making frequent winks and homages to the table first.

The portraits , basic part of his artistic work, showing its ability to capture the personality of the sitters. At this time the portrait, which was a genre hitherto little known, started to become a great style. Until then it was highly religious and started to become profane. He began to play the sitter looking personality psychological .
Portrait of Charles VII, Louvre Museum , Paris . Oil on board.

In the portrait of King Charles VII, the character painted front and surrounded by curtains. He continued in this French tradition of painting the king without the attributes of rank and not appear as intermediate figure donor formula that was used a century before the portrait of King John II . The result is a figure of Flemish influences with a very detailed analysis of the face. The reign of Charles was one of the most complex of the French monarchy. Answered initially reconquer the country due to the English and played an important role in the reorganization of the state. Still, the artist portrayed devoid of real attributes, but enlarged the width of the shoulders to present more majestic. According Bénazit, it is likely that the case of one of his older works, before the trip to Italy. This critic asserts that the king’s portrait reminds portrait Arnolfini (Van Eyck) , and is painted in the attitude of prayer which Fouquet painted all his figures. Also argued that all his other paintings knew the Italian Quattrocento and this is the exception.
Portrait of Chancellor of France Guillaume Juvenal des Ursins, Louvre Museum , Paris . Oil on board.

The Jester Jester Gonella portrait, painted in Italy, presented the figure very first, leaving much of the figure out of the picture, and focusing all attention on the face, which succeeded brilliantly convey the deep humanity of the character . Pacht Otto showed that this portrait of the jester, long attributed to van Eyck and also Brueghel , was painted by Fouquet.

In the copy of the missing portrait of Eugene IV , held in Rome , presents the character of the waist and the artist’s attention has focused on male psychology transmit, powerful, deep and energetic.

In his self-portrait, from 1450, shows a young face looking slightly askew safe and firmly directing the gaze of the viewer. This is an enameled copper of 6.8 cm diameter reveals that he knew other painting techniques. This round was part of the Melun Diptych and demonstrates that he was aware of the importance of the diptych. Scholars see in this portrait of a man who was considered humanist.

By 1465, he painted the portrait of Chancellor Guillaume Juvenal des Ursins. This is the left side of a diptych or a triptych devotional, whose right side is missing. It presents in prayer. The figure has a large volume and is oblique position in three quarters. The picture is different from that of Chevalier, for even being part of a diptych and being in prayer, and does not appear with his patron saint. The religious aspect of the picture is missing. He worried at first convey the appearance of honesty and good person. Secondly highlighted features that show as a senior official of the kingdom. The sitter was a person of high rank, aspect that made ​​much of the painter. The dress, the belt bag, a pillow and piers rich golden pass it this poise.
Melun Diptych
Main article: Diptych of Melun .

1450 painted the Melun Diptych, commissioned by Étienne Chevalier. In both tables made a compendium of ways Flemish, Italian and Gothic. Thus, the details of the throne and the crown of the Virgin are flamingos, Étienne monumental figures of Saint Stephen and architecture with perspective runaway are Italian. However, the portrait of Chevalier is flamenco, angels are Gothic and Renaissance composition is.
Diptyque de Melun – composition géométrique.jpg
Geometric composition and perspective effect Diptych
Geometric composition and perspective effect Diptych

The table on the left, the donor is in prayer, protected by their patron saint, St. Stephen, deacon vestments with. Above the book, Saint Stephen takes a sharp stone indicate that it was stoned. There is an important treatment of light, contrast in light and shadow, and how these figures are in real space, it is clear Italian influence. However, interest in capturing the fabrics, marble, leather, refers to the influence of Flemish Jan Van Eyck .

The realism of this table contrasts sharply with the other panel of the diptych, which manages to create a very idealized composition seems unreal, and the light again, playing an important role. The atmosphere is heavenly faces the earth. The Virgin appears as a beautiful woman, elegant and perfect white skin and very broad front. Wears an ermine cape and bare left breast has to do with the role of Mary as mother of humanity. The throne and the crown is adorned with pearls and gems. The angels are arranged so that each face is in a different position: the blues are cherubim and seraphim are reds, they said the Fathers of the Church . Los Angeles monochrome, red and blue, contrast sharply with white marbling Lady. As Madonna appears Agnès Sorel, mistress of King Charles VII, which Chevalier was a friend and executor. It was said that the beautiful Agnes was the most beautiful woman in France. The diptych was placed in the funeral chapel of Agnès Sorel in the cathedral of Melun, with the intention of facilitating the entry of the same in the Celestial Kingdom. However, it is controversial whichever Agnès Sorel, for , though a very old tradition, some argue that it is the painter’s wife, Catherine Bude.

The review points out the contrast between the white and shining texture of the Virgin and Child, the angels monochrome red and blue and pale colors of Chevalier and St. Stephen. It also contrasts the Front of the Virgin and Child with the figures and accompanying donor profile. Finally, there was the amalgam of Gothic and Renaissance, Nordic and Italian. The two panels are sold separately during the French Revolution, he has now left the table in the Berlin Museum , and right at the Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp . Diptych of the small round also comes with the self-portrait, now in the Louvre .
Melun Diptych
Étienne Chevalier with St. Stephen. Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
Étienne Chevalier with St. Stephen. Gemäldegalerie , Berlin
The Virgin and Child. Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp
The Virgin and Child. Museum of Fine Arts , Antwerp
Pieta Nouans
Nouans Pietà. Fontaines, France.

Around 1470 – 1480 Nouans Pieta painted, made ​​in large format (146 cm x 237 cm). It is the fundamental work of the final phase of his career. The perfection of how the figures are arranged is clearly Renaissance. Might help in the realization of this painting their children, Louis and Francois, estimated that intervened in his workshop in the last phase of its production.

This large painting differs from other production and must influence this monumental work is due to a miniaturist. Certainly the book has some flaws because of large magnitudes of the box, but the work must be considered as one of the most beautiful painter. This is a different Piedad. Here the Virgin with their suffering does not occupy the central theme of the painting such as the Pieta of Avignon and the composition is not centered on the Virgin. The Virgin contemplates two disciples Christ standing in front of her. San Juan also contemplates the scene with a protective attitude towards Mary. Four women and two other disciples follow events excited. On the right is the donor accompanied by his patron saint Santiago , so it is assumed that the donor was his name.

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