Sunday, January 15, 2017

France, Loire Valley - Château de Blois V (The Art)

Major works by famous artists (Ingres, Rubens, Boucher, etc.) highlight the Chateau's collections, 
making it one of the most important fine arts museums from France.

France, Loire Valley - Château de Blois IV (The Interior)

In 1850, the Blois authorities wished to showcase local culture 
and decided to create a museum of fine arts in the François I wing as an artistic pole of attraction, 
so the Museum of Fine Arts presence was rendered official.

No sooner had it opened, than the gifts and donations of artists or non-artists, 
consignments from the State and a miscellany of acquisitions were lodged in the museum. 
Collections grew so quickly and extensively that by 1851, more rooms had to be occupied. 

 Responses to appeals for donations have contributed to the creation of an eclectic collection of artistic, 
archaeological and ethnological objects that reflect the general history of the arts. 
State depositories for artwork and recent acquisitions have continued to enrich a composite entity 
consisting primarily in remarkable 16th and 17th century works related to the castle's history, 
and it is presently containing some 35000 items.

Each room in the museum is devoted to a single theme in the history of Western art, 
and the theme-based circuit, which eschews the usual chronological sequencing, 
is at once specific to the Blois Museum of Fine Arts, and a museographic innovation. 
Indeed, the museum offers a new way of viewing art history 
by grouping works from different epochs that were devoted to a given subject. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

France, Loire Valley - Château de Blois III (The Gaston of Orleans Classic Wing)

The Gaston of Orleans Classic Wing (1635-1638)
Brother of Louis XIII and heir to the throne, in 1634, Gaston d'Orleans decided to erect in Blois a totally new castle. 
His chosen architect was François Mansart, who built a main dwelling house 
that should have represented the first step to a large-scale, highly ambitious reconstruction project. 
However, the work was curtailed in 1638 by the birth of the future Louis XIV, 
whose arrival removed him from succession to the throne and deprived him of financing. 
Never fully completed, the dwelling house was built according to 17th-century taste, 
in a classical architecture style that prefigures Versailles: 
columns, pilasters, capitals and pediments pay tribute to antique Greek architecture. 
Inside, the most spectacular element of decor is the vault adorned with trophies and masks, and topped by a cupola.

France, Loire Valley - Château de Blois II (The François I Renaissance Wing)

The François I Renaissance wing (1515-1518)
In 1515, right after having acceded to the throne, François I initiated the first building project of his reign 
by erecting in Blois an edifice inspired by the Italian Renaissance. 
On the courtyard side, the majestic facade has in its center the François I staircase 
whose massive buttresses vividly contrast with the light picture windows. 
As for the exterior facade, it is inspired by the facades of the lodges elaborated by Bramante in the Vatican. 
At the time of their construction, the lodges offered a view of the gardens created for Louis XII and Anne, the Duchess of Brittany.   

France, Loire Valley - Château de Blois I (The Louis XII Gothic Wing)

The Royal Château de Blois is located in the town of Blois, in the Loir-et-Cher département of the Loire Valley, in France.

Unlike most of the Loire Valley castles, that present a single identifiable style, 
the Blois Castle comprises various buildings that were built over the course of several centuries (from the 13th to the 17th century), 
and thus different architectural styles can be found here. 
This variety is best seen in the central courtyard.

The lords of Blois and the kings of France continually modified the chateau according to their taste. 
At present, the courtyard is surrounded by buildings that attest to the four great epochs of French architecture 
from the Middle Ages till the 17th century.

The 13th-century Medieval fortress
In the 9th century, the headland overlooking the town of Blois and the Loire river was occupied by a fortress and a county palace. 
Shortly thereafter, the monks of Saint-Calais founded a chapel to protect their relics from Viking pillaging. 
Starting in 1000, the counts of Blois erected a tower and some new structures, which were regularly enlarged. 
Today's Royal Chateau of Blois contains only a few remnants of the 13th-century buildings: 
the large seigneurial room, part of the rampart and 3 towers incorporated in the François I wing, as well as the circular Foix Tower.

The Louis XII Gothic wing (1498-1500)
Starting in 1498, Louis XII transformed the fortress into an urban palace. 
On the courtyard side, the Gothic building features an open arcade leading to the two stairway towers providing access to all floors. 
At the front, the long brick facade harbors an equestrian statue of the king. 
While the edifice remains faithful to the standards of French architecture, 
the candelabra-laced decors and the arcades display an early Italian artistic influence. 
In our time, the Louis XII wing is home to the Fine Arts Museum.