France: The most beautiful paintings from the churches of lower Normandy

Source: FSSPX News

Holy Family, by Emile Signol, 1859, church of Bény-sur-Mer (Calvados).

At the initiative of the Region of Lower Normandy, the departments of Calvados, La Manche and Orne, and the City of Caen, the exposition “Divine Beauty! Paintings from Lower-Normand churches, 16th – 20th centuries” will be held in the Museum of Normandy – Château de Caen from February 7 to May 17, 2015.

As the press presentation for the exposition explains, “religious feasts have always given the year its rhythm: Christmas, Candlemass, Easter, the Ascension, the Assumption, All Saints’ Day…, the celebration of a saint each day, or the commemoration of the major episodes from Holy Scripture, that was restored to renown and glory after the Council of Trent; these feasts, whose number has diminished since the end of the Old Regime, have often lost their meaning in a strongly de-Christianized society.

“With religious feasts as an approach, a thematic journey invites the visitor to discover 42 paintings representative of a pictorial production of close to 3,000 paintings in the parish churches of Lower Normandy. Among the great feasts promoted by the Counter-Reformation, that of the Rosary was an object of activity for many societies chaplained by the Dominicans: one can thus admire paintings that decorated the altars of the Rosary (tableau of a Giving of the Rosary from Neauphe-sur-Dive); some that are still in place represent the mysteries of the Blessed Virgin laid out like the beads of the Rosary. Procession banners, including the beautiful painted banner from Vimoutiers signed Daverne, and documents from the beginning of the 20th century concerning the feast of Corpus Christ, recall to mind the fervor of the faithful” that was not confined to the walls of their parish churches.

Alongside the local painters that have come out of anonymity, Païs, Bichue, Pilet…, can be seen some national figures, such as Suvée, called by the bishop of Sées. Etched copies of the great masters make up a central part of these abundant images, whose legibility and meaning was more important than their originality. To close the expositions, six copies of Italian or French paintings from the 17th and 19th centuries bear witness to the unsuspected riches hidden under the bell towers of Calvados, La Manche and Orne.

Museum of Normandy – Château de Caen. February 7 to May 17, 2015, from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., every day except Tuesdays and holidays (Easter Sunday, May 1, Ascension Thursday). Entry fee: 3.20€ (under 26: free). Free entry on the first Sunday of the month.

(source: muse-de-normandie-caen – DICI no. 311 dated February 27, 2015)