Stephanie Levert (Art History) will defend her PhD thesis in Utrecht University Hall on 27 October. Her research shows the importance of the presence of Dutch and Flemish artists in Paris in the second half of the 16th and in the seventeenth century. Not only because of the large number of painters and sculptors present in the city, but also because of their role in the development of French art. Furthermore, the traditional view that Dutch and Flemish artists lived only in the community of Saint-Germain-des-Prés has to be revised.
Although migratory movements in general and migration of artists in particular are a popular field of investigation in the Humanities, current studies focus mainly on well-known artists like Rubens and Jacob van Loo. This survey has a more general approach and takes into account not only the makers of works of art still known today but also artists who have left only traces in documents.
In this way a general vision of all artists from the (Northern and Southern) Netherlands active in Paris from the middle of the 16th to the end of the 17th century can be presented. By close scrutiny of a great number of archives in France, Belgium and the Netherlands 333 artists could be found.
French version of names
The binational approach made it possible to identify Dutch and Flemish artists only known under the French version of their name the documents. For instance, painter and merchant Pierre Desmartins has been identified as Pieter de Martyn, the brothers Gilbert and Corneille Froidemontagne as Gijsbert and Cornelis van Coudenbergh.
All relevant data from the documents were registered and analysed in the University of Amsterdam ECARTICO database. The artists in the analysis are treated as a group, using the method of the prosopography. The findings concern e.g. the motivations for the journey to Paris, the journey, the stay, the extent to which they integrated in the Parisian community and the spreading of their addresses over Paris.
Community of Saint-Germain
The usual view that Dutch and Flemish artists lived only in the community of Saint-Germain has to be revised. It is demonstrated that this view is based on a misinterpretation of a biographic source. They lived and worked throughout Paris, just like the Parisians in general and the French artists in Paris in particular. Nevertheless the fair of Saint-Germain is an important phenomenon as it attracted especially Antwerpian art dealers to the Parisian market.
Special attention is paid to the judicial framework in which the Netherlandish artists operated. The statutes of the Parisian Guilds, the conflict of interests between the Guilds and the Court and the establishment of the Royal Academy are described. An analysis of contracts of apprenticeship shows that many Netherlandish masters had French apprentices. It is concluded that in several ways Dutch and Flemish artists played an important role in the restoration of French art after the devastations of the Religious Wars.