Ma recherche en 180 secondes au FHA 2017

Le 3 juin dernier, j’ai eu l’honneur d’être invitée à présenter mes recherches sur Nicholas Hilliard au Festival d’histoire de l’art qui se tient annuellement au château de Fontainebleau. La mission : donner envie d’en savoir plus sur mon artiste, le tout en 3 minutes. Une nuit agîtée et une heure trente de car plus tard, je me suis retrouvée aux côtés de 21 condidats présentant leur mémoire ou leur thèse. Autant tuer le suspense tout de suite : je n’ai pas gagné, mais cet exercice a été vraiment formateur et m’a permis de (re)rencontrer du beau monde.

Ci-dessous, vous retrouverez donc la captation vidéo de ma présentation, suivie de son transcript en anglais avec les photos correspondantes.

English transcript

Let’s talk about Renaissance and England ! Both concepts rarely come together. Yet, several English artworks from the 16th century are part of our common visual culture, like this Young man among roses, painted by goldsmith Nicholas Hilliard, after his return from France, circa 1580. And that is precisely this subject that I have studied for two years.

Nicholas Hilliard, Jeune homme parmi les roses, vers 1580, Victoria & Albert Museum ©Victoria and Albert Museum London

Born in 1547, Hilliard is a complete artist. Formed with Elizabeth I’s goldsmith, he is well-known for is portraits in miniature, painted in watercolour on vellum and decorated with French-style calligraphies in gold. He can speak French and his treatise, The Arte of Limning, never published then, shows us that he had a good classical culture.

Nicholas Hilliard, Elizabeth I, 1572, National Portrait Gallery © National Portrait Gallery London

He works for queen Elizabeth I from 1572 and is then commissioned to go and draw the portrait of her new suitor François de Valois, duke of Alençon and brother of King Henri III. Hilliard goes to Paris with the new ambassador in the autumn 1576 and becomes the duke’s valet de chambre for whom he painted this diplomatic gift sent to Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria and son of the emperor of Holy Roman empire.

Nicholas Hilliard, François de Valois, duc d’Alençon, vers 1578, Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienne) © KHM-Museumsverband

Previously into the French royal collections, this miniature of Francis Bacon is to be linked with another commission of the duke of portraits of foreign lords and ladies.

Nicholas Hilliard, Portrait of Francis Bacon, 1578 (?), National Portrait Gallery © Naitonal Portrait Gallery London

Finally, at Henri III’s court, Hilliard realized some pieces for distinguished nobles like this double portrait of the duke and duchess of Nevers, engraved on wood to illustrate the booklet of their foundation. Don’t they make you think of miniatures by their composition ?

Nicholas Hilliard, Louis de Gonzague, duc de Nevers, v. 1578, Bibliothèque nationale de France © Archives de l’auteur

Nicholas Hilliard (?), Portrait d’Henriette de Clèves, duchesse de Nevers, v. 1578, Bibliothèque nationale de France © Archives de l’auteur

The technical diversity of typical of Hilliard’s work and can also be noticed during his stay in France : miniatures and engravings are kept, goldsmitheries are known, although now missing and lately, two oil on panels have been rediscovered. One can also notice the influence of French portraiture and more specifically of François Clouet, the Valois painter, dead in 1572 but whose spirit is still alive amidst his followers like Jean Decourt or Germain Pilon, painted and sculptor of Henri III that Hilliard may have known in Paris.

The comparison between French and English miniature confirms some of these similarities : the bust almost half-length framing, this three-quarter almost faced turn,  and a research of realism in the face’s features. To this must be added the artist’s hand : a taste for luxury and affectation in the minute care of the jewels, embroideries and fabrics’ depiction, linked with his goldsmith’s  formation, an idealisation of the features and the absence of shadowing.

 » […] A hand, or eye

By Hilliard drawne, is worth an history […] « 

John Donne, The Storm, 1597

So, most of the scholars who wrote about Hilliard, confirmed that his stay in France is a failure. Is it ?

 

Céline Cachaud


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