This exhibition is organized by the Getty Research Institute in special collaboration with the Bibliothèque nationale de France. 300 years after the death of Louis XIV, the exhibition explores the rich variety of prints that came to define French power and style in the era of the Sun King.
A Kingdom of Images: French Prints in the Age of Louis XIV,
June 16 – September 6, 2016 – Getty Research Institute
A Kingdom of Images features nearly 100 works produced during the golden age of French printmaking—from grand royal portraits to satiric views of everyday life, and from small-scale ornamental designs to unusually large, multi-sheet panoramas of royal buildings.
The exhibition was curated by Louis Marchesano, curator of prints and drawings at the GRI; Christina Aube, curatorial assistant at the GRI; prints specialist Peter Fuhring of the Fondation Custodia in Paris; and Vanessa Selbach and Rémi Mathis, curators of seventeenth-century prints at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
“No other medium served the Crown as well as prints,” said Marchesano. “Through prints, allies and enemies alike bore witness to the refinement of French technical skill, aesthetics, and taste. They not only learned about Louis XIV, they also saw that French fashion, design, and inventiveness had outmatched the rest of Europe.”
“One of the reasons that this period has not been the subject of a large exhibition is that curators and scholars dismissed many of the prints as propaganda, the kind of over-the- top imagery in which the king appears, for example, as a mythological figure or a Roman emperor,” he added. “While I do not disagree with the “propaganda” label, I would urge viewers to consider the sophistication of both the message and the way that message is delivered. Also, I would argue that we need to think of propaganda in a wider sense. Remember, Louis XIV wanted to demonstrate to the world that France was the new cultural capital and in this respect it was under his reign that prints accomplished two goals. First, as works of art they attained unparalleled artistic sophistication and influence, which we can see for example in the portraits by Robert Nanteuil; and second, they carried a message that the rest of Europe came to envy: France was the center of fashion, design, and elegance.”
For more information on the exhibition visit www.getty.edu/kingdom
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