The Renaissance In France

From Italy the great revival of industrial art travelled to France. Charles VIII., who for two years had held Naples (1494-96), brought amongst other artists from Italy, Bernadino de Brescia and Domenico de Cortona, and Art, which at this time was in a feeble, languishing state in France, began to revive. Francis I. employed an Italian architect to build the Chateau of Fontainebleau, which had hitherto been but an old fashioned hunting box in the middle of the forest, and Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Sarto came from Florence to decorate the interior. Guilio Romano, who had assisted Raffaele to paint the loggie of the Vatican, exercised an influence in France, which was transmitted by his pupils for generations. The marriage of Henry II. with Catherine de Medici increased the influence of Italian art, and later that of Marie de Medici with Henri Quatre continued that influence. Diane de

Poietiers, mistress of Henri II., was the patroness of artists; and Fontainebleau has been well said to "reflect the glories of gay and splendour loving kings from Francois Premier to Henri Quatre."

Besides Fontainebleau, Francis I. built the Chateau of Chambord,7 that of Chenonceaux on the Loire, the Chateau de Madrid, and others, and commenced the Louvre.

Following their King's example, the more wealthy of his subjects rebuilt or altered their chateaux and hotels, decorated them in the Italian style, and furnished them with the cabinets, chairs, coffers, armoires, tables, and various other articles, designed after the Italian models.

The character of the woodwork naturally accompanied the design of the building. Fireplaces, which until the end of the fifteenth century had been of stone, were now made of oak, richly carved and ornamented with the armorial bearings of the "seigneur." The Prie dieu chair, which Viollet le Due tells us came into use in the fifteenth century, was now made larger and more ornate, in some cases becoming what might almost be termed a small oratory, the back being carved in the form of an altar, and the utmost care lavished on the work. It must be remembered that in France, until the end of the fifteenth century, there were no benches or seats in the churches, and, therefore, prayers were said by the aristocracy in the private chapel of the chateau, and by the middle classes in the chief room of the house.

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