The Cour Ovale at the Château de Fontainebleau

The Oval Courtyard - château de Fontainebleau - © RMN Grand Palais

Pierre-Justin Ouvrié (1806-1879)
1840
Oil on canvas
H. 117.5 cm;L. 175 cm
Fontainebleau, National Museum of the Château, INV. 7068
The Pope’s Apartment

"Such was the bloodstained act in the Galerie des Cerfs – in the same place where one finds today the bed in which I rested during my stay in Fontainebleau – that it marked the memory of Louis XIV's hospitality to a woman who had voluntarily abdicated her crown. “While staying at Fontainebleau in October 1834, the Austrian ambassador’s nephew, Rodolphe Apponyi, described in his diary the bloody episode of the murder of the Marquis de Monaldeschi who was accused of treason on November 10th 1657 and executed within the walls of the Galerie des Cerfs according to legend.

In this painting presented at the Exhibition of 1840, Pierre-Justin Ouvrié harks back to Queen Christina's stay at Fontainebleau. The painter was already familiar with the castle which he had painted many time before and here he provides a view of the Cour Ovale (Oval Court) from the keep under the setting sun. The bottom view enables him to describe in detail the height of the buildings that border the courtyard: on the right is an open window in the ballroom, while on the left, Serlio's portico is forged in golden pink light. The castle’s brick chimneys and the courtiers' costumes coloured streaks warm the mineral hues of the architecture. The fleeting lines of the buildings draw the eye towards the composition’s background where the grand Porte Dauphine gate and its domes emerge from a soft layer of clouds of blues, yellows and pinks. A crowd of small characters in period costumes at the centre of the painting are crowding around Queen Christina's carriage which has just entered the courtyard and its haphazard cobblestones.
It is not so much the terrible heart of the drama that interests the painter but the stately architectural scene that entices him, as it usually did.

Exhibitions
2018-2019, Château de Fontainebleau, Louis-Philippe à Fontainebleau. The King and History.

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The chateau is open every day except Tuesday, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.
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