French art

The Baroque Period

During the baroque era (17th and early 18th cent.) enthusiasm for classical antiquity, combined with a cult of rationalism, encouraged the development of a monumental and formalized art. The most important painters were the landscape artists Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, who worked in Italy. Other major painters of the period include Simon Vouet, Philippe de Champaigne, George de la Tour, and the Le Nain brothers.

The movement toward political centralization, culminating in the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV, was attended by aesthetic authoritarianism marked by a consolidation and control of artistic production in the service of the state and the founding of art institutions. The French Academy was chartered in 1635, and the Gobelins tapestry factory was established in 1662. Typical of the decorative magnificence of the age was the painting of Charles Le Brun and Pierre Mignard and the sculpture of François Girardon, Pierre Puget, and Antoine Coysevox.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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