IN MARCH 1781 the Benedictines of St-Denis submitted an unusual request to Louis XVI concerning the ancient tomb monuments of the early French Kings and their families which decorated the choir of the medieval church. They argued that the tombs were both an inconvenience during important ceremonies (some had to be temporarily removed whenever such ceremonies took place) and an eyesore owing to their primitive style and mutilated state; thus, the abbey, under the leadership of its prior Dom Malaret, appealed to the King for permission to transport them permanently to the chapels adjoining the choir. This request was timed to coincide with other improve-ments in the choir planned by the Benedictines: namely the replacement of the dilapidated choir stalls and worn paving stones, both of which had apparently served the church since the thirteenth century. The discussion of these ancient tombs underlined the notable absence of any monument commemorating the Bourbon dynasty and gave rise to the idea, evidently the brain-child of the Director General of the B itiments du Roi, the Comte d'Angiviller, of creating a Bourbon funerary chapel in the crypt of the church, directly below the choir. Because of political problems and lack of money the chapel was never built. However, two alternative designs, one by Marie- Joseph Peyre, the other by Charles-Axel Guillaumot, as well as detailed documents concerning the project, survive. The commission was given to Peyre, and his design is of particular interest because it dates from the end of his relatively short career, and because drawings by him are virtually unknown.
IT is an interesting accident of art history that one of the most remarkable phases of Jean-Frangois Millet's career, when he made a fundamental shift towards painting pure landscape as opposed to peasant figures in a landscape setting, took place through a change of geographical location forced by his wife's illness.
THE ARTISTIC personality of Georges Trubert, illuminator to Rene d'Anjou and later to his grandson, Rene II of Lorraine was established by Nicole Reynaud as recently as 1977. None of Trubert's surviving works can be shown to have been made for Rene d'Anjou, although many show a knowledge of Rene's iconography; and while the majority of his manuscripts belong to the period of the patronage of Rene II, they were not necessarily made for this patron. This is apparently the case with the Book of Hours discussed here, Waddesdon MS 21. It was fully analysed in the catalogue of the Waddesdon collection published in 1977, and also examined by Reynaud in her article of the same year. The authors of the two publications were unaware of each other's findings and they differ significantly in their stylistic appreciation of the same group of miniatures. In the catalogue, Delaisse at-tributes the most important illuminations in Waddesdon MS 21 to two distinct hands, which he calls A and B, whereas Reynaud sees the same miniatures as the work of a single personality, Georges Trubert. A re-examination of this manuscript shows that their views are not incompatible and, more importantly, that a link between Trubert and the favourite painter of Renei d'Anjou can be established.
THE DEBATE about Trophime Bigot, the painter from Arles, now at last universally identified with Sandrart's mysterious 'Trufemondi', has continued over some fifteen years in the wake of three important exhibitions, Valentin et les caravagesquesfranfais (Paris, 1972), La peinture en Provence au XVII siecle (Marseille, 1978) and La peinturefranfaised ans les collectionsa mericaines (Paris; 1982). The remaining problem has been whether Bigot could be the author not only of the large altar-pieces still preserved in the churches of Arles but also of the paintings of subjects lit by artificial light which Benedict Nicolson had grouped together as by an artist he nicknamed 'the Master of the Candle'.
THE FOUR CONTRACTS published below concern the decoration of a chapel belonging to Jacques II Barrin, seigneur de la Gallis-sonnibre, in the Carmelite church of the Faubourg St-Jacques, Paris. The altar, panelling and screen were commissioned from the menuisier Guillaume Veniat in 1629 and the painted decoration from Philippe de Champaigne in the following year. The contracts are marchis, legally binding agreements concerning timing and payment. The detailed specification (devis) which originally accompanied Champaigne's contract is not preserved in the notarial archives. In the absence of descriptions from other sources, the commission cannot confidently be associated with any of the painter's known works.
AFTER the 1985 exhibition at Rennes, we have a much better idea of the work and career of David's favourite pupil, Jean- Germain Drouais. His untimely death at the age of twenty-four in 1788 undoubtedly contributed to his subsequent fame, but the start of his very high contemporary reputation can be traced back to his victory in the 1784 Prix de Rome. It is no understate-ment to say that his entry was the single most spectacular success in the competition during the eighteenth century, drawing adulatory critical responses and later being considered worthy enough to form part of the original Musee speciale de l'ecole Frangaise at Versailles. Yet the 1784 competition also had wider ramifications since it decisively marked the start of David's influence on a whole generation of young French history painters.
THE EXHIBITION WHICH the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rennes devoted to Jean-Germain Drouais in 1985 showed the essential core of the painter's oeuvre, of which Rennes houses more than five hundred sketches executed during his time at the French Academy in Rome (1784–88). One result of the show was to emphasise the unfulfilled promise of this artist, who died at the age of twenty-five. The disturbed and indecisive character of the young Drouais was evident both in his writings and in the unfinished state of several canvases (Self portrait, private collection, Madrid; Portrait of the architect Auguste de Saint Hubert, private collection, New York; Philoctete, Musee de Chartres). From choice of subject to execution the artist hesitates, endlessly seeking to persuade himself that the approach he has decided upon is the best. Oil sketches and preparatory drawings are therefore of particular interest.
CONSIDERATION OF THE way in which an artist wished his pictures to be framed is all too often neglected in the history of art. In the case of Van Gogh, however, the large number of letters written to his family and friends allows for an examination of his views on the subject. He was closely interested in how his pictures should be displayed, and made specific suggestions regarding framing to his brother Theo on several occasions. He also explained how various pictures should be introduced as pairs, as triptychs (a term he used) or as groups. Unfortunately, only a small number of Van Gogh's ideas were carried out and relatively few museums have attempted to take his remarks into account when arranging their collections. Nonetheless, they cannot be overlooked and should be considered more carefully in any study of his paintings than they have been in the past.