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Treasures of Paris’ Cluny Museum: Must-See Collections of Medieval Artworks, Part 2 with Dr. Guillaume Durand

Treasures of Paris’ Cluny Museum: Must-See Collections of Medieval Artworks, Part 2 with Dr. Guillaume Durand


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.

When we think about great museums of Paris, we immediately think of the Louvre Museum or the Orsay museum. However, one of the most impressive collections of European and Mediterranean Medieval artworks, including the iconic and mysterious "Lady and the Unicorn" tapestry, is housed in the Quartier Latin, in a Late 15th century, Flamboyant Gothic mansion. The Cluny Museum illustrates the three great artistic cultures which flourished around the Mediterranean Sea: Western Christianity in its Late Antique, Romanesque, and Gothic aspects; Byzantine art from Justinian to the 10th century; and Macedonian Renaissance and Islam from the Umayyads to the Hispano-Moresque culture. Displayed through 6,500 square feet, the collection features 2,300 objects (out of the 23,000 artworks the museum owns) covering a span of time from Late Antiquity (5th cent. CE) to the 15th century. The specificity of this museum is to combine and exhibit these three cultures together so as to show how they interacted over centuries through artworks. The Cluny Museum is also one of few museums which displays not only sculptures, but also one of the most impressive and comprehensive amounts of ivory works (circa 300), stained-glass windows (more than 230 panels), enamels (such as the famous Enamel champleve of Limoges), and five Late Medieval tapestries.

Part 2: The second part of our journey to the Cluny Museum will allow us to give special attention to the birth of the Gothic style. From the 1120s, the Paris region was the scene of a real upheaval in the intellectual and artistic fields. Philosophers and theologians defend a vision of the world where light appears as the central element of Creation, and a way for men to perceive the divine. This quest for light is found in the architectural research of the first major Gothic projects. In the 15th century, thanks to their enrichment, urban elites often sponsor secular pieces, particularly objects of domestic life. The art of tapestry is experiencing considerable growth, notably represented in the museum's collections by the famous tapestry of the "Lady and the Unicorn." Among the famous artworks we will cover are the sculpture of Adam from Notre-Dame-de-Paris (middle of the 13th c.), the Limoges Enamels (middle 12th – late 13th c.), stained glass windows and panels (especially those from the Saint-Chapel, middle of the 13th c.), and the tapestry of the Lady and the Unicorn (Late 15th c.). 

Join archaeologist and art history professor Guillaume Durand, in this virtual tour of the World’s most comprehensive collection of European and Mediterranean Medieval art. Led by an expert on Ancient and Medieval Mediterranean art and archaeology, who has lead French and US student groups through this museum for the past two decades, this lecture is designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels. Participants will come away with a thoughtful and refined understanding of the evolution of Medieval art in Europe and around the Mediterranean as well as the eye of a connoisseur when they next visit this museum.

Passionate about the regions and countries at the crossroad of civilizations, Guillaume Durand, Ph.D. has long-standing expertise in Ancient art and archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean Basin. Assistant dean and professor in archaeology and art history at the Institute for American Universities and the American College of the Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence, France, Guillaume has traveled many times in Iran during these six past years in order to study the Persian Empires. He is also a tourist guide and lecturer in this country for French citizens.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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