John Haynes-Williams (1836-1908)
Second half of the 19th century
H. 77.5 cm;L. 117 cm
Oil on canvas
Château de Fontainebleau, F 2017.20
Gallery of Splendours.
While the château de Fontainebleau was described as a "New Rome" by Vasari in the 16th century, in reference to the Italian artists that it had attracted and the artistic emulation worthy of the Eternal City which had been its inspiration, its aura extends well beyond the Italian Renaissance to touch 19th century Europe.
The château, its architecture and its décor were a constant source of inspiration for French masters such as Ingres and Delacroix and for the English painter John Haynes-Williams too.
This artist who studied in Worcester and Birmingham was first and foremost a painter of genre scenes, but like many of his contemporaries, he also liked to paint sumptuous interiors. The château de Fontainebleau occupies an important place in his work since he painted views of the Oval room and the Throne room, both in private collections. In this masterpiece the painter faithfully reproduces the stucco and wood carving by Rosso, Primaticcio and Scibec da Carpi from the 1530s, which is one of the highlights of the château's décor. In it we see the painting of the Education of Achilles by the Centaur Chiron, the stucco Ignudi and the emblems of Francis I carved in wood. In the distance, a few figures occupy the vast space in front of us, characters discussing or pointing out elements of the décor. The painter does however permit himself one invention: the curtain obscuring the wall of the gallery on our right, like a theatre revealing its sumptuous stage set.
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