The art of France: General description, history

France is an amazing country, which is characterized by an air of mystery and sophistication, brilliance and elegance, grandeur and special attraction to everything that is beautiful. The history of the formation of its unique, has become the standard of
art History of France covers the huge historical period, from antiquity to our time.
France is an amazing country, which is characterized by an air of mystery and sophistication, brilliance and elegance, grandeur and special attraction to everything that is beautiful. The history of the formation of its unique, has become the standard of unusual and unique art is no less amazing than the state itself.

prerequisites for the formation of the Frankish Kingdom

to understand the peculiarities of the emergence and development of the art of France, it is necessary to make digression to history of the antique period, when the territory of the modern French state was part of the great Roman Empire. In IV century began active movement of barbarian tribes from the Rhine to the borders of the Empire. Their attacks and occasional incursions into Roman lands that were ravaged, severely undermining the state of the Latin. And in the year 395 and the very Roman Empire was divided between the sons of the current Emperor into two parts: Theodosius bequeathed the richest in the Eastern part of its territory to the eldest son Arkady, and the West gave the younger son Honorius. The division of the Roman Empire on a part weakened an already fragile Roman state and made it more vulnerable to external enemies.
Territory of modern France were part of the Western part of the former great Roman Empire. A strong blow in the year 410 Rome caused the troops of the Visigoths, which was headed by Allard. The last Roman Emperor of a weak state was hiding in Ravenna, leaving the eternal Rome. It was there that he was overtaken and the army of Odoacer, one of the leading commanders of the Visigothic tribe. It is this event, held in the year 476, and connect the final fall of the Roman Empire. On reclaimed land since the Great migration began to emerge from the barbarous state. In the V century in parts of Gaul arose and the state francs.

Frankish state and the development of French art

the Franks are a group of tribes that anciently settled along the banks of the Rhine river in its lower reaches and off the coast of the Baltic sea. The founder of the first Frankish Kingdom in Europe was the young leader of the Franks Clovis meroving, who defeated the army of the Roman Governor in Gaul at the battle of Soissons and captured the territory under his control. In the new territories, he settled his companions - francs, giving them allotments, held a series of government reforms in public administration and in judicial-legal sphere, by putting in place a unique document - "Salic truth", based on tribal orders Salic tribe of the Franks. In addition, special attention was given by Clovis to the choice of faith. The adoption of Christianity not only strengthened the new state, but also influenced the formation of the Frankish art.

After the dynasty of the Merovingians had become lazy in matters of state, life in the Kingdom became more difficult. Know captured the king's lands. Flourished permissiveness in the management of the nobility of their holdings and peasants. Increased impoverishment of the population. In the VIII century and the looming external threat from the nomadic Arab tribes. The power in their hands took one of the managers last mirovinskog king Charles Martel. He spent a number of reforms that helped to strengthen the state and defeat the Arabs. And the son of Charles Martel Pippin the Short was elected to the Council of nobles as the new king of the Franks. This choice was confirmed by the Pope. And the first Frankish Emperor was the son of Pippin the Short, Carl, followed in history has the nickname the Great. It was Carl Frankish Empire owes a special stage of flowering of culture and art, which is called the Carolingian Renaissance.

the Art of original Franks

If you understand the features of the birth and formation of the Frankish state, it becomes clear and the fate of cultural heritage, which was an ancient Frankish territories. It was mainly the development of ancient civilizations: bridges, residential and temple architecture, sculpture, literature, theater and decorative art. However, the Christian clergy did not consider it necessary to preserve these cultural treasures, but enjoyed the part of them that could be adapted to the worship and life of the inhabitant. So, worship in Christian churches were held in Latin, the same language was written and religious books.
Use architectural finds of Antiquity was necessary in order to begin the construction of churches and monasteries, the use of knowledge in astronomy helped to calculate the dates of the Church calendar, which in middle Ages declared the lives of the entire Kingdom. Also the Franks adapted to their needs and the education system of the late Roman Empire. It is noteworthy that the complex of subjects, studied in the Frankish schools, called the "Seven liberal arts". About what the art was about? In the so-called Trivium was part of the science of speech: grammar, rhetoric and dialectic. In kvadrivium included the science of numbers: arithmetic, geometry, music as the calculation of musical intervals and astronomy.

In decorative art was dominated by the barbaric traditions of creativity, characterized by the use as the main motives of vegetable and animal ornaments and images of monsters or beings that in reality do not exist and often have a quite fearsome appearance. This type of art called teratological or monstrous.

Art and culture of the Carolingian Renaissance

during the reign of Charlemagne is characterized by unprecedented rise of culture. One of the reasons for that is the personality of the Emperor - well-educated and highly cultured man. He was fluent and read in Latin, understood Greek, and was interested in theology and philosophy. One of the unique architectural structures of this period was amazing in its decoration the Palace Church in Aachen.
Developed the art of creating manuscript books: they were written almost calligraphic handwriting and decorated with beautiful miniatures. Among the books was as theological works, and the annals - time by year record of events that took place in the Frankish Empire.
In the Empire of open schools focused on primary and elite learning. The Creator of the first was a colleague of Karl Alcuin. But the elite school opened in Aachen, together with the scientists, the family of the Emperor and the whole court of Charlemagne. The school, named "the Royal Academy", conducted philosophical conversations, studied the Bible and the culture of Antiquity, guessing riddles and wrote poems. And one of the members of the Academy wrote the first secular biography "Life of Charlemagne".

in the era of the Carolingian Renaissance laid the foundations of preservation and revival of traditions of ancient culture and the basis for further development of the culture of the Franks.

the Formation of France as a nation

During the reign of the descendants of Charlemagne established his Empire increasingly weakened. When the Empire was divided between the sons of Charles, the Western part was ceded to the eldest son, Lothair. And his descendants continued weakening of the fragmented state. Empire fell. The last of the Carolingians finally lost influence and was deposed. Know transferred the reign of the mighty at that time the count of Paris Hugh the Capet. The Eastern part of the former Frankish Empire became known as France. Thanks to the reign of the Capetian new government not only revived, but also received new opportunities for development, including cultural.

the Folk art of medieval France

In the theatre and music of the medieval period also have been a number of changes compared to the antique. The Christian Church considered actors, accomplices of the devil and strongly pursued the artistic fraternity. As a result, the theatre as a mass phenomenon ceased to exist; the construction of theatres and stadiums gradually fell into ruins, and the actors began to form a roving troupe and played for the people at crossroads, fairs and squares. Mobile group of versatile actors - histrionem were less vulnerable to persecution by Church and authorities, to obey her and chased their target in connection with the peculiarity of ideas of histrionic and troubadours - wandering musicians. A special group of vagrants were former students or monks, who owned the prosody and the foundations of musical art, which was wandering alone on the roads and in their works or singing about carnal love, or denounced a decaying Church and a rotten state.

Three areas of development of medieval art

9/10 of the population of medieval France were peasants. Because the basic culture of the state can be defined as a peasant. Most of the day a medieval peasant spent in the labors in the land of the feudal Lord. But this does not mean that he had no need and time to communicate with culture and art. It was mostly a song and dance creativity competitions in force and dexterity. A special place in dealing with art, he held the views views of histrionem. Developed and folklore. The wisdom of the people is reflected in folklore: tales, songs, Proverbs and sayings. The main theme of the storytellers was a shame stupid rich to the poor, but the good poor man, came, typically, from a peasant family. Tales was critical they exposed the vices of society in the sphere of the relations of the nobility and the peasantry, and also talked about a heavy share of the peasants. Created and legends, ballads glorifying the exploits of folk heroes fighting for the honor and dignity of the common person against feudal arbitrariness.


Second side of medieval culture and art was the life of cities, growth and prosperity which was observed since the ninth century. The emergence of such a class as bourgeois, was the beginning of the development of bourgeois culture. Quickly improved the skill of the artisans. Modified the principles of their work and the quality of products, many of which now have a high value as masterpieces of decorative art. It is from this time in our everyday life such a word as "masterpiece". Each artist entering the Guild, the brotherhood, had to demonstrate their skills and produce the perfect product. It was a masterpiece. Gradually, a system of interaction and competition workshops, that was the original motivator in the development of crafts. However, over time the shop began to interfere with crafts to develop, as competitors did not want them spared most talented artists, and sometimes didn't want the secret of the manufacture of the product or material fell into the hands of competitors. Often members of the Guild brotherhood even destroying inventions, and sometimes pursued their creators.
a Third party of medieval culture and art was the existence of a separate world of the aristocracy of feudal lords. As a rule, all the feudal lords were carrying military service to the king as his personal vassals. The smaller feudal lords were vassals of lords - barons, counts, etc. Carrying the equestrian military service, they represented the phenomenon of medieval society, like chivalry. Chivalrous culture were characterized by their peculiar art. Such is the art of creating coats-of-arms knight - volume markings knightly family or individual knight. Did coats of arms from expensive materials like gold and silver, enamel and fur of the marten or squirrel. Each coat of arms was an important historical source and a very valuable work of art.
in addition, part of the knight culture of the boys - the future of the knights, and taught such arts as singing and dancing, playing musical instruments. They were trained from childhood to be polite, knew a lot of poetry, and many of the knights themselves wrote poetry, dedicating them a beautiful lady. And of course, you need to remember about the unique monuments of medieval architecture, knightly castles, erected in the Romanesque style, as well as the amazing temples erected in all the cities of France, first in the Romanesque and later in Gothic style. The most famous temples are the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and Reims Cathedral - the place of coronation of French monarchs.


the Art of France: Revival

Renaissance, associated with the new wave of interest in ancient cultural heritage and art, was born in Sunny Italy in the XIV century. In France, developments of the Renaissance is reflected in the culture and the visual arts only in the late XV century. But lasted for this period in France longer than in Italy not to XVI and XVII century. The rise in the field of culture and art in the French state was associated with the completion of the unification of the country under Louis XI.
disengagement from the Gothic tradition in the art of France occurred in connection with frequent trips kings in Italy, where they met with amazing Italian art of the Renaissance. However, in contrast to Italy, the art of this period in France was more a court than the people.
with regard to the nationality of French art, a vivid representative of it in literature was a wonderful poet françois Rabelais to create imaginative, witty and cheerful poetry.

If to speak about art in this period, it should be noted that in the miniatures of theological and secular literature embodied realist tendencies. The very first painter of this period of art development of France was Jean Fouquet, who left to posterity an enormous legacy in the form of portraits of aristocrats and the Royal family, miniature paintings, landscapes, diptychs depicting the Madonna.
Marguerite de Navarre was invited to France and Italian masters of the Renaissance: Rosso and Primaticcio, who became the founders of the school of Fontainebleau - direction in French art of painting, emerged in the estate of Fontainebleau. This flow was based on the principles of mannerism, representatives of which were the originally founders of the school, and was characterized by the use of mythological subjects and intricate allegories. Preserved sources, calling the names of other artists who participated in the design of the château de Fontainebleau: the Italians Pellegrino and Juste de Juste, the French Simon Leroy, Claude Badouin, Charles Dorigny, Fleming Leonard Tirey etc.

In the sixteenth century in France was actively developing the genre of portraiture, scenic and pencil. Especially interesting work by Jean Clouet, who wrote portraits of almost the entire French court.

Sculpture of this period in France is associated with the name of Michel Colombe, masterfully performed including embossed image and philosophical interpretations of the gravestones. Also interesting works of Jean Goujon, drenched in a special musicality and the poetry of images and the manner of execution.

a Counterweight harmonious and perfect in its beauty and grace the art of Goujon steel works of another sculptor of this period was Germain Pilon. They akin in its expression and gipertrofirovannyy transferred the feelings and emotions of the expressionists works of the XIX century. All the characters are deeply realistic, even naturalistic, dramatic, and grim.

Art of France: 17th century

the XVI century was the era of war and devastation for the French state. In the first quarter of XVII century the power of France was strengthened. Especially quickly went into the process of the centralization of power under Louis XIII, when everyone in the country ran the cardinal Richelieu. The people groaned under the yoke of the aristocracy and the hardships of daily work. However, the absolutist monarchy was not only to strengthen and increase the power of France, but also the fact that in this period the country became one of the leading among other European States. This undoubtedly affected the development and main tendencies of culture and art in the country.

French art of the 17th century can be provisionally defined as an official of the court, which was expressed grandiose and decorative style of the Baroque.

In contrast to the ostentation and exaggerated decorativeness of the Baroque art of France, followed two directions: realism and classicism. The first was the appeal to the reflection of real life as it was, without embellishment. In this direction it is evolving genre and portraits, biblical and mythological genres.
a Classicism in the art of France reflects primarily the topic of civic duty, the victory of society over the individual, ideals of the mind. They are positioned as opposed to the imperfection of real life, an ideal to which to strive, even sacrificing your personal interests. All this mainly is related to the fine arts of France. The basis for the art of classicism began the tradition of the ancient art. And it is found most reflected in classic architecture. In addition, the architecture was most dependent on practical interests of the state and was completely subordinated to the absolutism.


Period of the XVII century in the French state is characterized by the construction of a large number of city-forming architectural ensemble and Palace buildings. At that time secular architecture comes to the fore.
If to speak about the reflection of vyshenskaya trends in the visual arts, we should mention the work of Nicolas Poussin - a wonderful representative of the era, the painting which embodies both a generalization of attitude, and indomitable energy of life ancient art.

Art of France: 18th century

as of French art of the XVIII century, that is a separate topic for a long conversation. In short, the French art of this period was the protest against the negative phenomena in public life: absolutism began to decompose, the aristocracy was leading a lavish lifestyle, and disease in other segments of society. The resulting discontent of the masses, resulted in a bourgeois revolution, which in France has been a Republic. All this was reflected in the art of 18th century France.
a New upsurge of culture was associated with a huge impact on the creativity of folk origin, which was primarily pronounced in the music. In the theatre the main role was to perform Comedy, to develop a carnival masque, the art of Opera. Less creators turned to religious subjects, are increasingly developed secular art. The French culture of this period was very diverse and full of contrasts. The art of realism appealed to the world human disclosure of different classes: his feelings and emotions, home life, psychological analysis.

French art of the 19th century

Moving on. Let's talk briefly about the French art of the nineteenth century. Life state this time is characterized by another round of growing discontent of the people and expressed revolutionary sentiments, after the restoration of the French monarchy. The theme of struggle and heroism became one of the leading in the visual arts. It was reflected in new directions of art - historicism and romanticism. But with the academism in the visual arts of this period is a struggle.

study of the factor of color in painting leads to active development of the landscape genre and to review all systems of French painting.
Special development receives in this period of decorative art as the most reflective of the aspirations of the people. Very popular is the splint, allowing the simplest technique when using satirical images reveal the vices and problems of society.
documentary historical source of the era becomes etching. The etchings it is possible to study the history of France of XIX century.
Art of France, as we have seen, are complex and diverse and is closely related to the characteristics of the development of the French state. Each era is a huge block that requires a particular disclosure, that it is impossible to do in one article.