The Moscow Kremlin Museums present an exhibition introducing the greatest achievements of medieval culture of France to the Russian audience. This joint international project of the Moscow Kremlin Museums and the Centre des monuments nationaux of France supported by the French Embassy will become the main event of the Russia-France Year of Cultural Tourism.
The exhibition in the Moscow Kremlin Museums will show true masterpieces of French Gothic art related to the epoch of one of the most famous French kings – Saint Louis IX (1214 - 1270). Most of them will be presented in Russia for the first time, including items from the largest collections of France - Louvre Museum, Museum of the Middle Ages (Cluny), a number of provincial French museums, as well as manuscripts and documents from the National Library and the National Archives of France. The State Hermitage participates in the exhibition, giving on loan magnificent Limoges enamels and ivory pieces dating back to 13th — early 14th century.
Saint Louis is known as the perfect European sovereign, personifying the medieval idea of a fair Christian king – pious sovereign and Christian knight, defender of the Holy Land (Louis took the lead in two of the Crusades), merciful to the poor, founder of temples and monasteries, patron of arts and sciences. His reign was the heyday of Gothic art in France.
One of the biggest deeds of Saint Louis was the acquisition in 1239 of the relics of the Passion of Christ, the most important of which was the Crown of Thorns of the Savior, now kept in the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The Crown was purchased by Saint Louis from the Emperor of the Latin Empire Baldwin II for a huge sum. The relic was solemnly moved from Constantinople to Paris, giving the city a new heart as it was the most sacred relic of the Christian world. It turned French king of the Capetians dynasty into the most Christian ruler of all kings. The reliquary made for the Crown of Thorns in 1806 will be among the core exhibits. In the following years Louis collected more than twenty relics of the Passion – particles of the Holy Cross, the stone of the Holy Sepulchre, the centurion Longinus Spear and others. To store the greatest relics of the Christian world the Holy Chapel (Sainte-Chapelle) was built as a part of the royal palace in Paris. Its structure reminds a precious reliquary made of stone and stained glass - a masterpiece of Gothic art, and by far the most complete ensemble of stained-glass windows of the 13th century.
One of the key points of the exhibition is stained glass from the Sainte-Chapelle, partially dismantled in the 19th century and stored at the Center for National Monuments. It will be for the first time that such a big quantity of them will be shown outside France. Bright and saturated colors of stained-glass windows which were formerly illuminating the Royal Chapel will be now shining under the ancient arches of the Patriarch’s Palace. Its deeply exalted painting that tells the biblical story of mankind from the Creation to the Resurrection of Christ will enable the viewer to discover the world of a medieval man, his ideas of beauty, holiness and nature of power.
Times of Saint Louis are marked by the blossom of Gothic art of sculpture. Exhibits of sublime plastic will be represented by sculptural portraits of the king from the collection of the Cluny Museum, as well as his daughter Isabella's sculptural portrait from the collegiate church in Poissy, where Saint Louis was baptized, and sculptural image of the Virgin and Child from the Louvre.
On display will be magnificent jewelry samples of high Gothic golden age – exquisite works of Paris craftsmen and famous Limoges enamels, quatrefoil reliquary with the image of Saint Francis of Assisi, crown reliquary which Saint Louis presented to the Monastery of the Dominicans in Liège, according to the legend, and the Gospels in a precious cover for celebrating liturgies in the Holy Chapel.
A rare opportunity to explore an exquisite art of medieval book illumination will certainly attract interest of the audience. There will be a chance to admire colourful miniatures and ornaments in manuscripts, authors of which seemed to have found inspiration in a vivid adornment of the Sainte-Chapelle.
This catalogue accompanies the exhibition 'Saint Louis and Relics of the Sainte-Chapelle', dedicated to one of the most charismatic rulers of the Middle Ages - French King Saint Louis IX (1214 - 1270). Saint Louis is known as the remarkable sovereign, who managed to expand the royal domain and implemented reforms, and a man of rare piety, wishing of his absolution from sins and moral transformation of society, as well as a Christian knight. The catalogue presents seventy five exhibits of the epoch of St Louis and memorial things showing the worship of the king, i.e. manuscripts, small statuary, church utensils, including those adorned with vivid Limoges enamels and elements of Gothic churchs` ornamentation from the collections of the largest museums of France and Russia. The catalogue containing rich illustrations and scientists' articles on the Sainte-Chapelle and culture of the thirteenth century France is certainly of interest to all the connoisseurs of art. Price: 2,000 rub.
AND RELICS OF THE SAINTE-CHAPELLE
- `Notre-Dame Cathedral` prefabricated carton model
- Installation of the 'Saint Louis and Relics of the Sainte-Chapelle' exhibition
- Kultura TV-channel, 19.01.2017. Relics from the Sainte-Chapelle on display at the Moscow Kremlin Museums
- NTV-channel, 18.01.2017. Unique masterpieces of French Gothic art on display at the Moscow Kremlin Museums
- Announcement of the `Saint Louis and Relics of the Sainte-Chapelle` exhibition
It is for the first time that stained glass from the Sainte-Chapelle left France. This suggests high degree of trust in the relations between people and cultures of Russia and France. This is a unique exhibition, which is related to the epoch of one of the most famous French kings – Saint Louis IX. He became famous not only as a sovereign, but as a protector of the religion, commander, knight, and what is most important, as a patron of science and art. Thanks to him, the exhibits from the collections of various French museums, including the Louvre, left France for the first time in hundreds of years.
The exhibits on display are a thrill to the Russian public. Saint Louis is an extraordinary figure in the history of the world. He is a man who initiated particular attention to morality and spirituality in a system of government and authority. And the attitude to him in the world history is absolutely special. This exhibition gives an opportunity to get close to his deeds, with the relics he collected, – which is a unique chance. This display is sure to delight plenty of people.
This is indeed an unprecedented display, presenting exceptional items that had never left France before, related to Saint Louis, a contemporary of Alexander Nevsky.
This unique exhibition certifies that particular high degree of trust, which has been forming for ages and over the past decades in Russian-France relations. This is an excellent gift of the Moscow Kremlin Museums to the art- and history-lovers.
French people present Russian people a paragon of beauty – stained glass of Sainte-Chapelle has left France for the first time in history. I’m very pleased that a thousand-year history of France and its European roots can be demonstrated in Russia.
The display in Moscow as it is is astonishing. In particular, the fragments of stained-glass windows from the Sainte-Chapelle, that had never leaved France before. Only imagine – they had been 'asleep' in bureaus' drawers and had never been on display before. Only three years ago they were restored and travel abroad for the first time straight to Russia. The exhibits certify that King Louis mobilized all resources of painters, artisans, jewellers of France and Europe in whole in order to create masterpieces of the same standard as the Sainte-Chapelle itself. I assure you that the items presented at the exhibition arrow an overwhelming desire to see the entire work of St Louis.
The display of the greatest achievements of French culture of the Middle Ages is indeed a historical event for Russia and France. It would contribute to strengthening mutual understanding and friendship between peoples. It is remarkable that the exhibition is held on the 300th anniversary of the first visit of Peter I to France, and on the 300th anniversary of establishing Russian-French diplomatic relations. During his visit, Peter the Great got acquainted with French culture and art; therefore it is not improbable that he could have visited the Sainte-Chapelle and seen the exhibits presented here at the exhibition.
It is symbolic that the 'Saint Louis and Relics of the Sainte-Chapelle' exhibition connects the hearts of our capitals by “moving” the palace from the Cité island to the Moscow Kremlin. We are celebrating a vast culture association between France and Russia, which had been forming for millenniums. Not only cultural, but also industrial ties connect our countries. An industrial cooperation which has been uniting ENGIE and Gazprom for more than 40 years is the best illustration. Our partnership exceeds the limits of industrial cooperation, and today’s exhibition is a spectacular example of that.
Congratulations to the Kremlin Museums on a fascinating exhibition. These are unique exhibits and they are very difficult to take out of France and put on display. I am excited that here are items both from France and the Hermitage's rich collection. It seems that a large number of visitors of the exhibition have a unique opportunity to see the objects from museums' depositories, which are rarely displayed. It is a very interesting journey into the Middle Ages, to the epoch when medieval gothic France flourished. And I think that it’s a very rare event for the Moscow audience.
This exhibition is the finest example of cultural cooperation and political confidence between the two states. Only absolute trust allows countries to loan such precious pieces as presented at the exhibition in the Kremlin. There are special culture ties between our countries, which have a centuries-long history, and these ties are a counter to any political collision. This display is one and only, it’s an absolute masterpiece. It must be conceived slowly. And what is of importance, it is accompanied by an excellent catalogue describing the history of these items. For example, an amazing crown-reliquary from Liège is presented at the exhibition. It is remarkable for being a reliquary of the Crown of Thorns.
It is for the first time when I have been looking forward to the exhibition opening with such an excitement. I’m pleased that the Hermitage stood with other museums and gave the exhibits from its collection on loan. The ivory pieces, even of a later time than the epoch of St Louis, are a valuable addition for the exhibition.