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Museikon_1_2017

André Lecomte du Noüy

André Lecomte du Noüy and the frescoes of the Curtea de Argeş Monastery 1 Emanuela Cernea Muzeul Național de Artă al României, Bucharest (ro) résumé: Dès sa consécration en 1517, l’église du monastère Curtea de Argeş a été considérée comme l’une des plus belles fondations de l’Est de l’Europe. Même si au fil du temps d’autres monuments de cette partie du Commonwealth byzantin lui firent concurrence, elle a toujours gardé une valeur emblématique pour la culture locale. C’est la raison pour laquelle cette église a fait l’objet du premier projet de restauration scientifique déroulé en Roumanie, dans la seconde moitié du xix e siècle. Plusieurs restaurateurs célèbres de l’époque y ont participé. Sous la direction de l’architecte français André Lecomte du Noüy, ils ont redonné au monument son éclat architectural d’origine. Les autorités roumaines ont demandé le remplacement des fresques commandées par le fondateur de l’église, le prince Neagoe Basarab (1512-1521), avec une nouvelle peinture exécutée à l’huile. Lecomte du Noüy a fait une documentation complète de l’ensemble, afin de préserver la mémoire des merveilleuses fresques. Il a réalisé des relevés de plan, des dessins et des copies, grandeur nature. Il a également sauvé 35 fragments de fresque, qui ont été soigneusement enlevés, suivant les méthodes de l’époque (29 fragments sont conservés au Musée national d’Art de Roumanie). Ce sont les seules sources qui permettent à présent la reconstitution de ce programme iconographique et d’évaluer la qualité exceptionnelle de sa mise en œuvre par le plus ancien et le plus prestigieux atelier local de peinture de Valachie, dont le maître était le peintre qui signe du nom de Dobromir. Le fragment de fresque qui fait l’objet du présent article contient une représentation du saint Phanourios, un saint très vénéré en Crète aux xv e -xvi e siècles. Sa présence dans la « galerie » des saints représentés à Curtea de Argeş pourrait contribuer à l’identification de l’appartenance ethnique des membres de l’équipe de Dobromir, voire à l’identification de leur formation artistique. mots-clés: peinture murale, restauration, iconographie post-byzantine, peintres, saints. rezumat: Biserica Mănăstirii Argeşului a fost considerată, încă de la sfinţirea sa de acum 500 de ani, cea mai frumoasă ctitorie din spaţiul răsăritean. Chiar dacă faima sa în spaţiul ex-bizantin a fost concurată de-a lungul timpului de alte monumente, biserica Mănăstirii de la Curtea de Argeş şi-a păstrat un statut emblematic pentru cultura română. Din acest motiv i-a fost dedicat şi primul proiect de restaurare ştiinţifică de la noi, derulat în cea de-a doua jumătate a secolului xix cu concursul celor mai importanţi restauratori ai vremii. Arhitectul francez André Lecomte du Noüy, însărcinat cu această misiune, a readus monumentul la frumuseţea din vremea întâiului ctitor, fiind însă obligat de oficialii români ai timpului să înlocuiască frescele comandate de Neagoe Basarab cu o pictură nouă, în ulei. În ciuda reproşurilor care i-au fost adresate, Lecomte du Noüy se străduieşte şi, în cele din urmă, reuşeşte să salveze o parte din pictura originară a monumentului, păstrată astăzi, majoritar, la Muzeul Naţional de Artă al României. Totodată, grija acestuia s-a concentrat asupra documentării complete a ansamblului artistic argeşean, din care au rezultat numeroase relevee, desene şi cópii la scară după pictura originară, singurele documente ce ne permit astăzi reconstituirea iconografică şi evaluarea estetică a picturii de început de secol xvi de la Curtea de Argeş. Fragmentele de frescă salvate de André Lecomte du Noüy, alături de toate aceste documente iconografice pe care i le datorăm, ne permit să apreciem astăzi trăsăturile stilistice ale celui mai vechi şi prestigios atelier local de pictură din Ţara Românească. Unul dintre fragmentele de frescă îl înfăţişează, cel mai probabil, pe Sfântul Fanurie, un sfânt care se bucura de o veneraţie intensă în Creta în acea perioadă. Acesta poate constitui un indiciu important în identificarea componenţei etnice şi a formaţiei artistice a membrilor atelierului condus de Dobromir pe plaiurile argeşene cu cinci veacuri în urmă. cuvinte cheie: pictură murală, restaurare, iconografie post-bizantină, pictori, sfinţi. The inscription recorded on the 10 th of September 1526 by the master painter Dobromir on the eastern wall of the Argeş Monastery narthex is, according to experts, the main source documenting the date and, most importantly, the painters that performed here. The text allows us to identify the master Dobromir, the most famous painter at the Court of early 16 th -century Wallachia, as one of the artists involved in the Curtea de Argeş, possibly even the chief painter of the team. Moreover, the inscription implies that, although the works were completed in 1526, they had already started while St. Prince Neagoe Basarab was still alive, which may mean that in 1517, when the monastery was consecrated, many of the scenes painted by Dobromir’s team had already enlivened the interior of the church walls. Thus, Dobromir’s epigraph provides a first set of information about the dating and authors of the frescoes, but also about the mastermind of the ornamental concept applied at Curtea de Argeş Monastery. Unfortunately, the artistic project initiated by Prince Neagoe Basarab (1512-1521) and finalised by his son-in law, Radu v of Afumaţi (1522-1523, 1524-1525, 1525-1529), is hard to analyse today, since most of the original painting is gone. It was removed to make Museikon, Alba Iulia, 1, 2017, p. 69-76 | 69

70 | Emanuela Cernea Fig. 1: Inscription, fresco panel fragment from the Episcopal Church in Curtea de Argeş, the master painter Dobromir, 10 September 1526. Credits: Collection of the National Museum of Art of Romania. room for further oil painting commissioned by King Carol the i st of Romania (1881-1914), and only a small part of the frescoes painted by Dobromir’s team were saved around 1882, in order to be deposited at the National Museum of Antiquities, recently founded at that time. Most of the fragments are now preserved at the National Museum of Art of Romania, as well as in the Collection of the Archdiocese of Argeș and Muscel, while yet another fresco fragment from Argeş may have survived, as I have found out, in a private collection in Bucharest. 2 Although impressive, the 35 fresco fragments left of the old mural adornment of the Curtea de Argeş Monastery make up for less than 5% of the painting works which Prin- ce Neagoe Basarab commissioned 500 years ago to decorate his most beloved foundation. The fragments do, however, represent the most valuable artistic output from one of the first painting workshops operating on Romanian territory. Determining the stylistic features specific to that workshop has been and will be one of the most challenging tasks for specialists, who need to explore even the most apparently insignificant details in the surviving Curtea de Argeş frescoes or to connect the remaining painting fragments to the most unexpected documents that recall the lost paintings. Paradoxically, when putting together the pieces about the original appearance of the Curtea de Argeş Monastery, highly revealing information comes from one of the most contested personalities who have ever crossed paths with that masterpiece: the architect Emile André Lecomte du Nouÿ, who, between 1875 and 1887, was in charge of the rehabilitation of this monument, doing the first scientific

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