The Revival of Fra Angelico and Matthias Grünewald in Nineteenth-Century French Religious Art

In response to the secularization of art and society and to the empty academism of the official religious commission, certain nineteenth-century Catholic artists and critics turned to the past and sought inspiration both for their lives as artists and for their art itself in the Renaissance. At mid-century, the Dominican reformer R. P. Henri de Lacordaire and a small group of his associates who were artists rediscovered the simple forms, pure color, and delicate line of Fra Angelico. Later in the century, more desperately rigorous Catholics, largely but not exclusively recent converts, such as the writers J. K. Huysmans and Léon Bloy, and the printmakers/painters Marcel Roux, Georges Rouault, and Odilon Redon, turned their attention to the more singular, solitary, and tortured art of Matthias Grünewald. By studying these revivals, one discovers an undercurrent of fervent and ever increasing Catholic piety embedded in the secular nineteenth-century French state. (ND)
Davenport, Nancy
Volume 1998-1999 Fall-Winter; 27(1-2): 157-99