Spiritual, living cathedral

Exhibition at the Carnavalet Museum in Paris

"The colours of heaven", Paintings from 17th-century Paris churches

4 OCTOBER 2012 - 24 FEBRUARY 2013

By the loan of three paintings, Notre-Dame de Paris joins this exceptional exhibition proposed by the Carnavalet Museum produced in association with COARC (Conservation of Civil and Religious Artworks for the City of Paris).

In the autumn of 2012 the Musée Carnavalet, a hub for the history and patrimony of Paris, is presenting a brand new retrospective devoted to 17th-century painting in the city’s churches: some 120 paintings, drawings and engravings from collections in France and abroad are being brought together here for the first time.


Will be exposed in this exhibition from Notre-Dame cathedral :
- Adoration of the Shepherds painted by Hiéronymous FRANCKEN,
- Nativity of the Virgin painted by Louis and Mathieu LE NAIN
- Virgin of Pity painted by Lubin BAUGIN


Partially dispersed since the French Revolution, this remarkably spectacular heritage is little known to today’s general public. Home to ornamentation by such 17th-century masters as Nicolas Poussin, Simon Vouet and Philippe de Champaigne, the churches of Paris are the French capital’s oldest museums. The Musée Carnavalet and COARC (Conservation of Civil and Religious Artworks for the City of Paris) are thus offering visitors the chance to rediscover a period of enormous creative energy and an art context in which religious painting played a key role.

The exhibition’s line of approach combines chronology, style and some of the major features of the religious art scene of the time: the importance and diversity of those who commissioned works (the royal family, the guilds), the stages in the creative process (preliminary drawings, reductions), incorporation of ornamentation into architecture, etc. Also on display will be a unique ensemble of preparatory works for the "Mays" of Notre Dame, the large-scale pictures given to the Cathedral every year by the guild of goldsmiths.

The Musée Carnavalet exhibition can be complemented by a tour of the churches of Saint Eustache, Saint Nicolas des Champs and Saint Joseph des Carmes: visitors will be able to see the works in the architectural setting they were created for, together with the recent restorations that have given some of the private chapels all the éclat of the grand siècle.



Chief curators : Jean-Marc Léri, director of the Musée Carnavalet , and Daniel Imbert, director of COARC (Conservation of Civil and Religious Artworks for the City of Paris)
Consultant curator : Guillaume Kazerouni, professor of art history at the Manufacture des Gobelins
Exhibition curators : Thierry Sarmant, chief curator of the Musée Carnavalet, and Lionel Britten, COARC documentation coordinator


- More infomation : here.


Adoration of the Shepherds

By Hieronymus FRANCKEN (around 1540-1610)
The shepherds to whom the angels announced the Savior’s birthare going to the crib to prostrate before the Infant Jesus.
Painted in 1585 for the high altar of the church of the convent of the Cordeliers in Paris. Ordered by Christophe de Thou (1508-1582), Chairman of the Parliament of Paris, and his son Jacques-Auguste (1553-1617). He is represented on the left in his magistrate outfit. The painter has represented himself as a shepherd holding a lamb, behind the magistrate.

JPEG - 157.3 kb

© Boullay

Nativity of the Virgin

By Louis (1593? -1648) And Mathieu (1607? -1677) LE NAIN
Representation of a room in the look of Paris in the 1640s, where St. Anne gave birth to the Virgin Mary. She is lying in the background while a nurse feed the infant under the paternal gaze of St. Joachim and angels attesting the sanctity of the family scene.
Painted around 1640 for the altar of the Chapel of St. Augustine (now St. Anne) of Notre-Dame de Paris. After the revolutionary period, in 1811, this painting is stored in Saint-Etienne-du-Mont in Paris. It was given back to the cathedral in 1964 and replaced in its original location.

JPEG - 122.5 kb

© Boullay

Virgin of Pity

By Lubin BAUGUIN (around 1610-1663)
Our Lady receives on her knees the body of her son Jesus dead on the cross.
Painted around 1650 for the altar of the Chapel of St. George and St. Blaise (now St. Charles) in Notre-Dame de Paris. Retained after the revolutionary period in the Museum of French Monuments, it was stored in 1821 at the Hospice of St. Cloud. It was given back to the cathedral in 1959 and will be replaced in its original location.

JPEG - 114.7 kb

© Boullay

Diocèse de Paris Notre-Dame de Paris 2013 Facebook Google Twitter Flickr Youtube Foursquare RSS
Make a donation