The French Renaissance was the cultural and artistic movement in France between the 15th and early 17th centuries. The period is associated with the pan-European Renaissance, a word first used by the French historian Jules Michelet to define the artistic and cultural "rebirth" of Europe.
Notable developments during the French Renaissance include the spread of humanism, early exploration of the "New World" (as New France by Giovanni da Verrazzano and Jacques Cartier); the development of new techniques and artistic forms in the fields of printing, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, the sciences and literature; and the elaboration of new codes of sociability, etiquette and discourse.
The French Renaissance traditionally extends from (roughly) the French invasion of Italy in 1494 during the reign of Charles VIII until the death of Henry IV in 1610. This chronology notwithstanding, certain artistic, technological or literary developments associated with the Renaissance arrived in France earlier (for example, by way of the Burgundy court or the Papal court in Avignon); however, the Black Death of the 14th century and the Hundred Years' War kept France economically and politically weak until the late 15th century.
The word "Renaissance" is a French word, whose literal translation into English is "Rebirth". The word Renaissance was first used and defined by French historian Jules Michelet (1798–1874), in his 1855 work, Histoire de France (History of France). Jules Michelet defined the 16th-century Renaissance in France as a period in Europe's cultural history that represented a break from the Middle Ages, creating a modern understanding of humanity and its place in the world. As a French citizen and historian, Michelet also claimed the Renaissance as a French movement. His work is at the origin of the use of the French word "Renaissance" in other languages.
For a chronological list of French Renaissance artists, see List of French Renaissance artists.
In the late 15th century, the French invasion of Italy and the proximity of the vibrant Burgundy court (with its Flemish connections) brought the French into contact with the goods, paintings, and the creative spirit of the Northern and Italian Renaissance, and the initial artistic changes in France were often carried out by Italian and Flemish artists, such as Jean Clouet and his son François Clouet and the Italians Rosso Fiorentino, Francesco Primaticcio and Niccolò dell'Abbate of the first School of Fontainebleau (from 1531).
In 1516, Francis I of France invited Leonardo da Vinci to the Château d'Amboise and provided him with the Château du Clos Lucé, then called Château de Cloux, as a place to stay and work. Leonardo, a famous painter and inventor, arrived with three of his paintings, namely the Mona Lisa, Sainte Anne, and Saint Jean Baptiste, today owned by the Louvre museum of Paris.
The art of the period from Francis I through Henry IV is often inspired by late Italian pictorial and sculptural developments commonly referred to as Mannerism (associated with Michelangelo and Parmigianino, among others), characterized by figures which are elongated and graceful and a reliance on visual rhetoric, including the elaborate use of allegory and mythology.
There are a number of French artists of incredible talent in this period including the painter Jean Fouquet of Tours (who achieved amazingly realistic portraits and remarkable illuminated manuscripts) and the sculptors Jean Goujon and Germain Pilon.
Late Mannerism and early Baroque.
Marie de Medici, Henry IV's queen, invited the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens to France, and the artist painted a number of large-scale works for the queen's Luxembourg Palace in Paris. Another Flemish artist working for the court was Frans Pourbus the younger.
Outside France, working for the dukes of Lorraine, one finds a very different late mannerist style in the artists Jacques Bellange, Claude Deruet and Jacques Callot. Having little contact with the French artists of the period, they developed a heightened, extreme, and often erotic mannerism (including night scenes and nightmare images), and excellent skill in etching.
One of the greatest accomplishments of the French Renaissance was the construction of the Châteaux of the Loire Valley: no longer conceived of as fortresses, these pleasure palaces took advantage of the richness of the rivers and lands of the Loire region and they show remarkable architectural skill.
The old Louvre castle in Paris was also rebuilt under the direction of Pierre Lescot and would become the core of a brand new Renaissance château. To the west of the Louvre, Catherine de Medici had built for her the Tuileries palace with extensive gardens and a grotte.
The ascension of Henry IV of France to the throne brought a period of massive urban development in Paris, including construction on the Pont Neuf, the Place des Vosges (called the "Place Royale"), the Place Dauphine, and parts of the Louvre (amongst which the Great Gallery).
French Renaissance gardens were characterized by symmetrical and geometric planting beds or parterres; plants in pots; paths of gravel and sand; terraces; stairways and ramps; moving water in the form of canals, cascades and monumental fountains, and extensive use of artificial grottes, labyrinths and statues of mythological figures. They became an extension of the chateaux that they surrounded, and were designed to illustrate the Renaissance ideals of measure and proportion.
Burgundy, the mostly French-speaking area unified with the Kingdom of France in 1477, was the musical center of Europe in the early and middle 15th century. Many of the most famous musicians in Europe either came from Burgundy, or went to study with composers there; in addition there was considerable interchange between the Burgundian court musical establishment and French courts and ecclesiastical organizations in the late 15th century. The Burgundian style gave birth to the Franco-Flemish style of polyphony which dominated European music in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. However, by the end of the 15th century, a French national character was becoming distinct in music of the French royal and aristocratic courts, as well as the major centers of church music. For the most part French composers of the time shunned the sombre colors of the Franco-Flemish style and strove for clarity of line and structure, and, in secular music such as the chanson, lightness, singability, and popularity. Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchois are two notable examples from the Burgundian school during the early Renaissance period.
The most renowned composer in Europe, Josquin des Prez, worked for a time in the court of Louis XII, and likely composed some of his most famous works there (his first setting of Psalm 129, De profundis, was probably written for the funeral of Louis XII in 1515). Francis I, who became king that year, made the creation of an opulent musical establishment a priority. His musicians went with him on his travels, and he competed with Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 for the most magnificent musical entertainment; likely the event was directed by Jean Mouton, one of the most famous motet composers of the early 16th century after Josquin.
By far the most significant contribution of France to music in the Renaissance period was the chanson. The chanson was a variety of secular song, of highly varied character, and which included some of the most overwhelmingly popular music of the 16th century: indeed many chansons were sung all over Europe. The chanson in the early 16th century was characterised by a dactylic opening (long, short-short) and contrapuntal style which was later adopted by the Italian canzona, the predecessor of the sonata. Typically chansons were for three or four voices, without instrumental accompaniment, but the most popular examples were inevitably made into instrumental versions as well. Famous composers of these "Parisian" chansons included Claudin de Sermisy and Clément Janequin. Janequin's La guerre, written to celebrate the French victory at Marignano in 1515, imitates the sounds of cannon, the cries of the wounded, and the trumpets signaling advance and retreat. A later development of the chanson was the style of musique mesurée, as exemplified in the work of Claude Le Jeune: in this type of chanson, based on developments by the group of poets known as the Pléiade under Jean-Antoine de Baïf, the musical rhythm exactly matched the stress accents of the verse, in an attempt to capture some of the rhetorical effect of music in Ancient Greece (a coincident, and apparently unrelated movement in Italy at the same time was known as the Florentine Camerata). Towards the end of the 16th century the chanson was gradually replaced by the air de cour, the most popular song type in France in the early 17th century.
The era of religious wars had a profound effect on music in France. Influenced by Calvinism, the Protestants produced a type of sacred music much different from the elaborate Latin motets written by their Catholic counterparts. Both Protestants and Catholics (especially the Protestant sympathizers among them) produced a variation of the chanson known as the chanson spirituelle, which was like the secular song but was fitted with a religious or moralizing text. Claude Goudimel, a Protestant composer most noted for his Calvinist-inspired psalm settings, was murdered in Lyon during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. However, not only Protestant composers were killed during the era of conflict; in 1581, Catholic Antoine de Bertrand, a prolific composer of chansons, was murdered in Toulouse by a Protestant mob.
462 Broadway (also known as Mills & Gibb building, 120-132 Grand Street and 30 Crosby Street) is a commercial building on Broadway between Crosby and Grand Street in the SoHo neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City Featuring polished red granite on the ground floor, it was built of cast iron in the French Renaissance style in 1879-1880 to a design by John Correja.Château de Chambord
The Château de Chambord (French pronunciation: [ʃɑto də ʃɑ̃bɔʁ]) in Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France, is one of the most recognisable châteaux in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King Francis I of France.
Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I, who maintained his royal residences at the Château de Blois and Amboise. The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed, though with some doubt, to Domenico da Cortona; Leonardo da Vinci may also have been involved.
Chambord was altered considerably during the twenty-eight years of its construction (1519–1547), during which it was overseen on-site by Pierre Nepveu. With the château nearing completion, Francis showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting his old archrival, Emperor Charles V, at Chambord.
In 1792, in the wake of the French Revolution, some of the furnishings were sold and timber removed. For a time the building was left abandoned, though in the 19th century some attempts were made at restoration. During the Second World War, art works from the collections of the Louvre and the Château de Compiègne were moved to the Château de Chambord. The château is now open to the public, receiving 700,000 visitors in 2007. Flooding in June 2016 damaged the grounds but not the château itself.Château de Chenonceau
The Château de Chenonceau (French: [ʃɑto də ʃənɔ̃so]) is a French château spanning the River Cher, near the small village of Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. It is one of the best-known châteaux of the Loire valley.The estate of Chenonceau is first mentioned in writing in the 11th century. The current château was built in 1514–1522 on the foundations of an old mill and was later extended to span the river. The bridge over the river was built (1556-1559) to designs by the French Renaissance architect Philibert de l'Orme, and the gallery on the bridge, built from 1570–1576 to designs by Jean Bullant.Château de Villandry
The Château de Villandry is a grand country house located in Villandry, in the département of Indre-et-Loire, France. It is especially known for its beautiful gardens.Châteauesque
Châteauesque (or Francis I style, or in Canada, the Château Style) is a revival architectural style based on the French Renaissance architecture of the monumental French country houses (châteaux) built in the Loire Valley from the late fifteenth century to the early seventeenth century.
The term châteauesque (literally, "château-like") is credited (by historian Marcus Whiffen) to American architectural historian Bainbridge Bunting although it can be found in publications that pre-date Bunting's birth. As of 2011, the Getty Research Institute's Art & Architecture Thesaurus includes both "Château Style" and "Châteauesque", with the former being the preferred term for North America.
The style frequently features buildings incongruously ornamented by the elaborate towers, spires, and steeply-pitched roofs of sixteenth century châteaux, themselves influenced by late Gothic and Italian Renaissance architecture. Despite their French ornamentation, as a revival style, buildings in the châteauesque style do not attempt to completely emulate a French château. Châteauesque buildings are typically built on an asymmetrical plan with a roof-line broken in several places and a facade composed of advancing and receding planes.François Clouet
François Clouet (c. 1510 – 22 December 1572), son of Jean Clouet, was a French Renaissance miniaturist and painter, particularly known for his detailed portraits of the French ruling family.François Rabelais
François Rabelais (; French: [fʁɑ̃swa ʁablɛ]; between 1483 and 1494 – 1553) was a French Renaissance writer, physician, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs. His best known work is Gargantua and Pantagruel. Because of his literary power and historical importance, Western literary critics consider him one of the great writers of world literature and among the creators of modern European writing. His literary legacy is such that today, the word Rabelaisian has been coined as a descriptive inspired by his work and life. Merriam-Webster defines the word as describing someone or something that is "marked by gross robust humor, extravagance of caricature, or bold naturalism".French Renaissance architecture
French Renaissance architecture is a style which was prominent between the 15th and early 17th centuries in the Kingdom of France. It succeeded French Gothic architecture. The style was originally imported from Italy by the French kings Charles VIII, Louis XII, and François I. Several notable royal châteaux in this style were built in the Loire Valley; notably the Chateau d'Amboise, the Chateau of Blois, the Chateau of Gaillon, and the Chateau of Chambord, and, closer to Paris, the Chateau of Fontainebleau.
This style of French architecture had two distinct periods. During the first period, between about 1495 and 1590, the Italian style was copied directly, often by Italian architects and craftsmen. In the second period, between 1540 and the end of the Valois dynasty in 1589, French architects and craftsmen gave the style a more distinctive and original French character. The major architects of the style included the royal architects Philibert Delorme, Pierre Lescot and Jean Bullant, and the Italian architect and architectural theorist Sebastiano Serlio.French Renaissance literature
For more information on historical developments in this period see: Renaissance, History of France, and Early Modern France.
For information on French art and music of the period, see French Renaissance.French Renaissance literature is, for the purpose of this article, literature written in French (Middle French) from the French invasion of Italy in 1494 to 1600, or roughly the period from the reign of Charles VIII of France to the ascension of Henry IV of France to the throne. The reigns of Francis I (from 1515 to 1547) and his son Henry II (from 1547 to 1559) are generally considered the apex of the French Renaissance. After Henry II's unfortunate death in a joust, the country was ruled by his widow Catherine de' Medici and her sons Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III, and although the Renaissance continued to flourish, the French Wars of Religion between Huguenots and Catholics ravaged the country.Garamond
Garamond is a group of many old-style serif typefaces, named for sixteenth-century Parisian engraver Claude Garamond (generally spelled as Garamont in his lifetime). Garamond-style typefaces are popular and often used, particularly for printing body text and books.
Garamond worked as an engraver of punches, the masters used to stamp matrices, the moulds used to cast metal type. His designs followed the model of an influential design cut for Venetian printer Aldus Manutius by his punchcutter Francesco Griffo in 1495, and helped to establish what is now called the old-style of serif letter design, letters with a relatively organic structure resembling handwriting with a pen, but with a slightly more structured and upright design.
Some distinctive characteristics in Garamond's letterforms are an 'e' with a small eye and the bowl of the 'a' which has a sharp hook upwards at top left. Other general features are limited but clear stroke contrast and capital letters on the model of Roman square capitals. The 'M' is slightly splayed with outward-facing serifs at the top (sometimes only on the left) and the leg of the 'R' extends outwards from the letter. The x-height (height of lower-case letters) is low, especially at larger sizes, making the capitals large relative to the lower case, while the top serifs on the ascenders of letters like 'd' have a downward slope and ride above the cap height. The axis of letters like the ‘o’ is diagonal and the bottom right of the italic 'h' bends inwards.Following an eclipse in popularity in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, many modern revival faces in the Garamond style have been developed. It is common to pair these with italics based on those created by his contemporary Robert Granjon, who was well known for his proficiency in this genre. However, although Garamond himself remains considered a major figure in French printing of the sixteenth century, historical research has increasingly placed him in context as one artisan punchcutter among many active at a time of rapid production of new typefaces in sixteenth-century France, and research has only slowly developed into which fonts were cut by him and which by contemporaries. As a result, while "Garamond" is a common term in the printing industry, the terms "French Renaissance antiqua" and "Garalde" have been used in academic writing to refer generally to fonts on the Aldus-French Renaissance model by Garamond and others. In particular, many 'Garamond' revivals of the early twentieth century are actually based on the work of a later punch-cutter, Jean Jannon, whose noticeably different work was for some years misattributed to Garamond. Modern Garamond revivals also often add a matching bold and 'lining' numbers at the height of capital letters, neither of which were used during the Renaissance.The most common digital font named Garamond is Monotype Garamond. Developed in the early 1920s and bundled with many Microsoft products, it is a revival of Jannon's work.Gardens of the French Renaissance
The Gardens of the French Renaissance is a garden style, initially inspired by the Italian Renaissance garden, which evolved later into the grander and more formal Garden à la française during the reign of Louis XIV, by the middle of the 17th century.
In 1495, King Charles VIII and his nobles brought the Renaissance style back to France after their war campaign in Italy. They reached their peak in the gardens of the royal Château de Fontainebleau, the Château-Gaillard of Amboise, the Château de Blois, and the Château de Chenonceau.
French Renaissance gardens were characterized by symmetrical and geometric planting beds or parterres; plants in pots; paths of gravel and sand; terraces; stairways and ramps; moving water in the form of canals, cascades and monumental fountains, and extensive use of artificial grottoes, labyrinths and statues of mythological figures. They became an extension of the châteaux that they surrounded, and were designed to illustrate the Renaissance ideals of measure and proportion, and to remind viewers of the virtues of Ancient Rome.Hôtel de Ville, Paris
The Hôtel de Ville (French pronunciation: [otɛl də vil], City Hall) in Paris, France, is the building housing the city's local administration, standing on the place de l'Hôtel-de-Ville in the 4th arrondissement. The south wing was originally constructed by François I beginning in 1535 until 1551. The north wing was built by Henry IV and Louis XIII between 1605 and 1628.It was burned by the Paris Commune, along with all the city archives that it contained, during the Commune's final days in May 1871. The outside was rebuilt following the original design, but larger, between 1874 and 1882, while the inside was considerably modified. It has been the headquarters of the municipality of Paris since 1357. It serves multiple functions, housing the local administration, the Mayor of Paris (since 1977), and also serves as a venue for large receptions.Jean Fouquet
Jean (or Jehan) Fouquet (1420–1481) was a preeminent French painter of the 15th century, a master of both panel painting and manuscript illumination, and the apparent inventor of the portrait miniature. He was the first French artist to travel to Italy and experience first-hand the early Italian Renaissance.Joseph J. Cole Jr. House and 1925 Cole Brouette No. 70611
The Joseph J. Cole Jr. House and 1925 Cole Brouette No. 70611 are a house and historic motor car located at 4909 N. Meridian Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. The house, also known as Colehaven, dates from 1924 and reflects Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals architecture and French Renaissance architecture. The 1.3-acre (0.53 ha) property includes the house and one other contributing structure.The house was constructed for Joseph J. Cole Jr., the president of the Cole Motor Car Company in Indianapolis. The Cole Brouette was produced at that factory and was owned by the Cole family.
The house and automobile were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.La Pléiade
La Pléiade (French pronunciation: [la plejad]) is the name given to a group of 16th-century French Renaissance poets whose principal members were Pierre de Ronsard, Joachim du Bellay and Jean-Antoine de Baïf. The name was a reference to another literary group, the original Alexandrian Pleiad of seven Alexandrian poets and tragedians (3rd century B.C.), corresponding to the seven stars of the Pleiades star cluster. The name "Pléiade" was also adopted in 1323 by a group of fourteen poets (seven men and seven women) in Toulouse.Northern Renaissance
The Northern Renaissance was the Renaissance that occurred in Europe north of the Alps. Before 1497, Italian Renaissance humanism had little influence outside Italy. From the late 15th century, its ideas spread around Europe. This influenced the German Renaissance, French Renaissance, English Renaissance, Renaissance in the Low Countries, Polish Renaissance and other national and localized movements, each with different characteristics and strengths.
In France, King Francis I imported Italian art, commissioned Italian artists (including Leonardo da Vinci), and built grand palaces at great expense, starting the French Renaissance. Trade and commerce in cities like Bruges in the 15th century and Antwerp in the 16th increased cultural exchange between Italy and the Low Countries, however in art, and especially architecture, late Gothic influences remained present until the arrival of Baroque even as painters increasingly drew on Italian models.Universities and the printed book helped spread the spirit of the age through France, the Low Countries and the Holy Roman Empire, and then to Scandinavia and finally Britain by the late 16th century. Writers and humanists such as Rabelais, Pierre de Ronsard and Desiderius Erasmus were greatly influenced by the Italian Renaissance model and were part of the same intellectual movement. During the English Renaissance (which overlapped with the Elizabethan era) writers such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe composed works of lasting influence. The Renaissance was brought to Poland directly from Italy by artists from Florence and the Low Countries, starting the Polish Renaissance.
In some areas the Northern Renaissance was distinct from the Italian Renaissance in its centralization of political power. While Italy and Germany were dominated by independent city-states, most of Europe began emerging as nation-states or even unions of countries. The Northern Renaissance was also closely linked to the Protestant Reformation with the resulting long series of internal and external conflicts between various Protestant groups and the Roman Catholic Church having lasting effects.School of Fontainebleau
The Ecole de Fontainebleau (c.1530–c.1610) refers to two periods of artistic production in France during the late Renaissance centered on the royal Palace of Fontainebleau that were crucial in forming the French version of Northern Mannerism.Second Empire architecture
Second Empire is an architectural style, most popular in the latter half of the 19th century and early years of the 20th century. It was so named for the architectural elements in vogue during the era of the Second French Empire. As the Second Empire style evolved from its 17th-century Renaissance foundations, it acquired a mix of earlier European styles, most notably the Baroque, often combined with mansard roofs and/or low, square-based domes.The style quickly spread and evolved as Baroque Revival architecture throughout Europe and across the Atlantic. Its suitability for super-scaling allowed it to be widely used in the design of municipal and corporate buildings. In the United States, where one of the leading architects working in the style was Alfred B. Mullett, buildings in the style were often closer to their 17th-century roots than examples of the style found in Europe.