In spring 2022, Fontainebleau will revive the sumptuous celebrations given to the court of the Valois, from the reign of François I to that of Henri III. Around a hundred works, coming from the largest museums in Europe, will make it possible to understand the unfolding of these celebrations and to grasp their full splendor.
In the 16th century, the Château de Fontainebleau was an essential place of festivals. Masquerades in the Oval courtyard, nautical shows on the carp pond, jousting and tournaments in the Cour du Cheval Blanc, banquets and performances in the castle park have marked memories. By nature ephemeral, the party, once over, leaves behind only rare vestiges of paper, memories or enthusiastic testimonies of those who had the chance to attend.
This exhibition, presented in the Belle Cheminée room designed by Primatice, will bring together around a hundred works produced to prepare for or evoke these celebrations. Paintings, tapestries, parade weapons, costume designs and commemorative booklets will take you behind the scenes of the 16th century celebrations. This exhibition will also show the central place occupied by Catherine de Medici in the implementation of genuine diplomacy through entertainment. Leonardo da Vinci, Rosso Fiorentino, Primatice, Philibert Delorme, Antoine Caron, the greatest artists of the Renaissance set about designing sets, programs and costumes, from the most solemn to the most extravagant: it is the art of celebration.
The castle therefore requested the contribution of the largest institutions in Europe such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the English royal collections and the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. Homage to Queen Catherine de Medici, a unique partnership with the city of Florence and its museums, the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti, will make it possible to show for the first time at the castle three pieces of the famous “Valois Festival Hanging”, one of which is precisely the Fontainebleau theater. Finally, an exceptional set of drawings, from Leonardo da Vinci to Primatice, will revive the abundant inventiveness that presided over the development of the
costumes and masquerade sets. This exceptional ensemble, which will bring together for the first time works from museums all over Europe, will echo the decorations of the castle, a major artistic center of the Renaissance.
The exhibition will invite visitors to discover the Ballroom from a new perspective. The Oval Court, a privileged witness to the celebrations over the reigns, will be exceptionally open for the occasion.