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Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Valentin Bousch (French, active 1514–41, died 1541)
Date: 1531Accession Number: 17.40.2a–r
Date: 1532Accession Number: 17.40.1a–r
Fra Damiano da Bergamo (Damiano di Antoniolo de Zambelli) (ca. 1480–1549)
Date: ca. 1547–48Accession Number: 126.96.36.199–.19
Date: 1547Accession Number: 188.8.131.52
Date: ca. 1547–48Accession Number: 184.108.40.206–.108
Date: 1548Accession Number: 220.127.116.11
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The illusionistic panels displayed here were created in 1547–48 by juxtaposing pieces of different-colored wood to create secular and religious compositions that mimic the effects of painting. This technique, called intarsia, flourished in northern Italy, where these panels were made. They were commissioned for a chapel in the château built in the Naussac region of France by Claude d'Urfé (1501–1558), whose interest in Italian art intensified after serving as royal ambassador to Rome.
Appreciating the inherent properties of wood was central to creating intarsia, in much the same way that understanding the fragility and transparency of glass was key to designing stained-glass windows. By the sixteenth century, advances in glass cutting reduced the need for lead joins and supports, allowing a glass painter to treat the window surface more like a canvas. The windows on view, made for a church in the Lorraine region between 1531 and 1533, are remarkable for their lofty figures, plunging landscapes, and details such as the architectural frames and armor derived from the artistic vocabulary of ancient Greece and Rome.
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