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Style Other / Ref.15180

Baroque church altar and altarpiece of the 17th century

Width: 181'' ⅛  460cm
Height: 210'' ⅝  535cm
Depth: 39'' ⅜  100cm

17th Century , Burgundy

Needs restoration

This large Baroque altarpiece was made for the chapel of the Chazeron Castle, near Clermont-Ferrand, in the 17th century.

In the 11th century, there was already a keep on the site of Chazeron castle. The building was rebuilt and extended to become a castle by the end of the Middle Ages, as illustrated in 1460 by Guillaume Revel. In the second half of the 17th century, François de Monestay (1617-1697), Marquis of Chazeron, decided to modernise the medieval castle. He commissioned Jules Hardouin-Mansart to build two new wings and had the interiors panelled.

The chapel's walnut altar dates from this remodelling. Above the altar itself is a high carved wood panel. In the centre is the tabernacle in the form of a small temple in the style of Antiquity, flanked by composite fluted pilasters; it is surmounted by two unicorns framing the arms of the commissioner, themselves crowned by an angel. On either side, set against painted niches, are two statues of saints framed by four eminently Baroque twisted columns, around which vine stocks evoke the wine offered during the sacrifice of the Mass. The side columns are flanked by fire pots, while the two central columns are topped by praying angels. In the centre is a low relief depicting God the Father blessing, in line with the tabernacle.

François de Monestay's coat of arms is easy to identify, because it can also be seen on a canvas painted after Hyacinthe Rigaud's portrait of the Marquis de Chazeron, kept at the Hôtel de Noailles in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The coat of arms is surmounted by a crown of a marquis and surrounded by the collars of the Order of Saint-Michel and the Order of the Holy Spirit, which he was awarded following a heroic charge against the enemy at the age of 77. The altar can therefore be dated to the 1690s.

Although classical art triumphed in Paris and Versailles in the 17th century, border areas and the countryside adopted Italian artistic models. This altarpiece features a structure often used for Baroque altars, although in this case there is a certain sobriety, particularly in terms of polychromy. Although the richness of the altarpiece lies primarily in its abundant sculpted ornamentation, the addition of a sky-blue background highlights the tabernacle, the sculptures of the saints and the top of the altarpiece, and gives depth to the whole, in a very Baroque style. Finally, the twisted columns intertwined with vines are inspired by the baldachin designed by Bernini for the altar in St Peter's Basilica in Rome between 1624 and 1633. Therefore, the altar and altarpiece in the chapel at Château de Chazeron are a fine example of the penetration of Baroque art in France in the second half of the Grand Siècle.

Price: on request

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