Smart Secrets of Great Paintings episode 5 – Jean Fouquet

Smart Secrets of Great Paintings episode 5

Smart Secrets of Great Paintings episode 5 – Jean Fouquet: With a tiny and delicate paintbrush, Jean Fouquet adds the golden threads of a tentative humanism to “The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia” (circa 1450) and unveils a glimmer of the modern era, crouching behind the horizon of the Middle Ages. This film analyzes the illumination for clues of what Fouquet sought to convey to viewers. Completed for a book of hours commissioned by one of Charles VIII’s financial advisors, it portrays Apollonia’s martyrdom as a mystery play- theatrical performances of Biblical stories popular in medieval towns- to distance viewers from the act of violence. The film also discusses Fouquet’s journey to Italy, where he learned about perspective from Renaissance artists, and talks about his propaganda work as the Hundred Years’ War drew to a close.




This series explores history of art in a totally new way. The painting comes to life, as animation overrides the limits of the frame, taking us to the heart of the canvass and plunging us into its era and history. This series of 10 half-hour programs shows how a painted image echos the spirit of its time and relates to a particular historic event. It reveals the poetic, sociological and political potential of the picture by penetrating inside the painting and examine the underlining details, thanks to work of computer graphics which livens up characters, objects and sets.

Each film tells a fascinating story of a creator and the painting process. The great works of the past portray abundant testimonies, and are imbued with secrets and are teeming with mysteries. Beneath the surface of the painting, details awaken, to recount the spirit of the times and the vagaries of History, such as wars, revolutions, economic transformation, scientific discovery, beliefs and schools of thought.


Smart Secrets of Great Paintings episode 5 – Jean Fouquet


Jean Fouquet

Jean Fouquet (ca.1420–1481) was a French painter and miniaturist. A master of panel painting and manuscript illumination, and the apparent inventor of the portrait miniature, he is considered one of the most important painters from the period between the late Gothic and early Renaissance. He was the first French artist to travel to Italy and experience first-hand the early Italian Renaissance.

Little is known of Fouquet’s early life and education. Though long assumed to have been an apprentice of the so-called Bedford Master of Paris it is now suggested that he may have studied under the Jouvenal Master in Nantes, whose works were formerly assumed to be early works by Fouquet. Sometime between 1445 and 1447 he travelled to Italy where he came under the influence of Roman Quattrocento artists such as Fra Angelico and Filarete. During the 1450s he began working at the French court, where he counted kings Charles VII and his successor Louis XI among his many patrons.

Fouquet’s excellence as an illuminator, his precision in the rendering of the finest detail, and his power of clear characterization in work on this minute scale secured his eminent position in French art. His importance as a painter was demonstrated when his portraits and altarpieces were for the first time brought together from various parts of Europe for the exhibition of the “French Primitives” held at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

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