Exhibition Le Beau Siècle, presented at the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology.
May 1674. Louis XIV personally attends the capture of Besançon. The old free city, finally conquered, became the capital of the province of Franche-Comté. This marked the beginning of an exceptional period of one hundred and twenty years, during which economic, demographic, political and religious activity developed and created the conditions for an unprecedented boom in artistic production. This artistic vitality, seen as an ecosystem, is the starting point for the exhibition Le beau siècle.
The historiography shows that in Besançon, research for the 18th century has essentially focused on certain buildings and a few names, three architects – Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, the most famous, Alexandre Bertrand, Jean-Charles Colombot – and three artists, the sculptor Luc Breton and the painters Melchior Wyrsch and Gaspard Gresly. No global approach has been attempted until now, no exhibition devoted to the issues of this period, which was nevertheless decisive in the history of Besançon, and on which the inhabitants still depend to a large extent today in their daily lives.
The ambition of the exhibition is to show the originality of this period and its production, its main lines of force, and the complexity of its history.
Why are there so many artists’ names and so few works? What are the main
What are the main innovations, the apparent archaisms? How do the works, the artists and their patrons link a relatively remote city to Paris but also to Italy and, to a lesser extent, to Flanders? What do the artistic and architectural projects and achievements say about the intended francisation of the province and its capital?