Medieval England rare examples’ exhibition to open in Paris
A new exhibition in Paris aims to show how England in the middle ages was very much part of Europe’s dynamic art, architectural, trade, and culture scene between AD1000 and AD1500.
Organizers said the event would discredit the “popular perception”-mainly across the Channel-that medieval England was “primitive and barbaric” while France and parts of Europe enjoyed a gothic zenith.
James Robinson, the exhibition curator who is keeper of decorative art and sculpture at London’s V&A, said there had been a “reassessment” of England’s contribution to European art in the middle ages over the past half a century.
Unfortunately, while France and other European countries largely preserved their medieval treasures, England’s artistic heritage was “systematically and ruthlessly decimated” by the 16th-century Reformation and the revolution led by Oliver Cromwell in the 1640s, he said.
Gothic style, most spectacularly expressed in architecture, was the predominant art form in 13th-15th century Europe and saw the creation of breathtaking cathedrals. As well as religious furniture and reliquaries, the period saw a boom in paintings, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures, tapestries, and intricate embroideries.
The English Reformation, after Henry VIII wrested the Church of England away from the authority of the pope and Catholic church in Rome, saw the king’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, close down the country’s monasteries, confiscating their riches and in many cases dismantling the buildings.
Among the exhibits at the Paris exhibition that opens on Friday at the Hotel de la Marine are rare treasures that escaped the 16th and 17th century pillage and destruction.