Renewed Success of Art History Festival

5/6/12 - Festival de l’histoire de l’art - The second edition of the Festival de l’histoire de l’art held at Fontainebleau on 1st, 2 and 3 June proved once again to be a huge success, drawing large crowds.
We had described last year’s in detail (see here in French) and we do not need to repeat at length here the proceedings which were, generally, much the same and took place under sunny skies (despite a few showers Sunday morning).

Overall, it was better organized, making it easier to move from one event to the next (except perhaps for two round-tables hosted by the same persons, one ending at 4.30 pm and the other starting at the same time in different locations). The presence of the Book Fair under a tent was a very good idea, thus avoiding scattering the stands throughout different points. The signs posted in Fontainebleau were also helpful in directing visitors.
The lectures, or at least those we attended, were all fascinating. Again, there was no lack of choice in subjects, and we were at times frustrated at having to miss some of the events. This year’s special guest was Germany and the theme Trips. However, many round-tables, presentation or debates concerned current artistic and cultural news.

Like last year with Noël Coypel’s cartoon, a work taken from storage (and recently restored) was presented to the public (and will remain on view until 18 September). This time it was an ensemble of wood panels by Jacques Verberckt sculpted with ears of corn, shells and intertwined vegetation. The pieces, dating from 1741-1742, are elements of oratories placed under the tribune in the Trinité chapel. A small catalogue was published for the occasion.
Another interesting initiative was the presentation, at the theater entrance, of several photographs of anonymous works held in churches of the Seine-et-Marne region, in order to elicit responses from the attendants at the festival regarding their possible identification. Several specialists suggested attributions for some of these works in talks presented on Saturday. The programme was extremely varied and open, ranging from art history and underscoring interpretations to connoissorship, from specialized lectures to debates on current evens, from university research to museum life [1]. This festival was definitely an occasion to open up the closed communication often restricting exchanges between the different fields and actors which make up the domain of art history.

Xavier Salmon and Côme Fabre, Sculpter pour Louis XV. Jacques Verberckt ou l’art du lambris à Fontainebleau, 2012, Editions Faton, 96 p., 12.50€. ISBN : 978-2-87844-164-2.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 7 juin 2012


[1] The Louvre was well represented, as were some provincial museums but, on the whole, there were not enough curators in attendance, in our opinion.

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