Ecole de Sculpture Troyenne

Under the reign of King François Ist, Troyes was a significant city in the Kingdom; there were nearly 30,000 inhabitants, and it was the fifth town of France. Its geographical situation still made it a significant commercial place, in particular thanks to its close relations with Antwerp, the first trading town in the 16th century Europe, and Lyon, where large fairs were held at the same time. The prosperity of the city shows in its very fast recovery from the big fire of 1524; churches were rebuilt, and so were wooden houses thanks to the efforts of bourgeois and rich merchants; in only a few decades, damage caused by the great fire were forgotten.

This prosperity came with a development of art and in particular, in these times of rebuilding and Renaissance, of sculpture which saw such a significant activity that a School soon appeared; l'école de sculpture Troyenne. Its influences were numerous, with for example the Flemish School; carved tables of the church of Villemaur sur Vannes near Troyes show details of tables of the painter Albrecht Dürer, who at that time had engraved and published some of his works. Another influence came from the Italian wars, which brought great artists to France and introduced the Rennaissance style into Arts.

In view of the vastness of this movement, and with the difficulty in identifying the authors of most works, I will only introduce in this page two "leaders" of this Ecole Troyenne; Dominique Le Florentin and François Gentil.

Dominique Del Barbier, known as Le Florentin (1501-1572):
Dominique Del Barbier was born in Florence in 1501(06?). A pupil of Primatice, he followed his master at Fontainebleau, where he took part in the decoration of the Château of François Ist; he worked in several roles; sculptor, engraver, painter, architect and mosaicist. At the death of François Ist in 1547, he came to settle in Troyes, where he involved himself intensely in the decoration of the new buildings that the fire of 1524 caused to be rebuilt. In 1548, he was given the task of preparing for the visit of King Henri 2nd and Catherine de Medicis, and then in 1563 for the visit of King Charles 9th; he took François Gentil as his assistant. In 1549, the town of Troyes asked him to make a rood-screen for Saint Etienne's church, which he built with his son-in-law, Gabriel Favereau. He died in 1572(74?).

In addition to his contributions to the architecture of the city, Dominique Le Florentin left Troyes many testimonies of his sculpture mastery. For Saint Pantaléon, he restored the chapel Saint Jacques, and many other sculptures.

 

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Saint Jacques, Church Saint Pantaléon


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Saint Joseph, Church Saint Pantaléon


 

François Gentil (151?-1582):

François Gentil was born in Les Riceys, near Troyes; his father Edmée Gentil worked in some of the churches of Troyes as a painter. The name of François Gentil appears in the Churches' registers in 1541 (he made two statues for Church St Jean) then in 1547 for the Cathedral, in 1548 for Saint Jean again, 1550 and 1553 for Saint Nicolas. He also took part, under the direction of Dominique Le Florentin, in the preparations for the Royal visit of Henri 2nd in 1548 and Charles 9th in 1563. He is said to have lived a dissolute way of life; "he lived like a working class libertine, who worked only to afford drinking and to get drunk". He lived in Troyes, on Rue Notre Dame (currently Rue Urbain IV), opposite Saint Urbain's church. He left some significant works of art in many churches, in particular in Saint Nicolas, Saint Pantaléon and Sainte Madeleine. Historians date his death around 1581-83.

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Jesus presented to the people by Ponce Pilate, Church Saint Pantaléon


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Saint Joseph asleep, Church Saint Pantaléon


 

To be admired also...

 

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Virgin with grape,
Church Saint Urbain

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Meeting of the Virgin and Elisabeth,
Church Saint Jean

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Sainte Agnès,
Church Saint Nicolas

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Virgin Marie, Saint Jean and Marie Madeleine,
Church Saint Pantaléon

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Sainte Marthe, by François Gentil,
Church Sainte Madeleine

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Burial,
Church Saint Nizier