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Work Apostles from a Feuillantine convent

Department of Decorative Arts: Renaissance

Plaque : Saint Paul, sous les traits de Galiot de Genouillac

© 1997 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts

Sophie Baratte

These two plaques, taken from a Parisian convent during the Revolution, are copies of two of the 12 plaques depicting the Apostles that François I commissioned from Léonard Limosin in circa 1545, given to Henri II in 1547. The 12 plaques are now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Chartres. While the drapery is the same as the original plaques, the heads of the Apostles are different: Saint Paul is a portrait of Galliot de Genouillac, a friend of François I's, and Saint Thomas is François I himself.


These two works, each consisting of nine enamelled plaques, represent the Apostles, identified by the upper plaque as well as their individual attributes - the sword with which Saint Paul was put to death, and an architect's square for Saint Thomas, who built a palace for the Indian king Gundaphorus. The side plaques bear the letters H and CC - Henri II's monogram. The lower plaque featuring Saint Paul also bears Henri's emblem, a crescent moon. The coloured enamels are set in a white ground, making the work extremely decorative.

The history of the plaques

Alexandre Lenoir used these two works along with the retables from the Sainte Chapelle to decorate the pedestal of his reconstruction of Diane de Poitiers' tomb in the Musée des Monuments Français. He recorded that the plaques were confiscated from the Feuillantine convent in rue du Faubourg-Saint-Jacques, now rue Saint-Jacques. Indeed, it seems likely that the plaques came from this convent rather than the neighbouring Ursuline convent, just a lane away, because the inventory of the latter convent's possessions drawn up during the Revolution showed that it was extremely poor.

Determining the date and attribution of the plaques

Although little is known about these two plaques, the fact that they are so similar to the plaques in the museum in Chartres - known to be the work of Léonard Limosin - suggests that this is also the case for these two. The inclusion of Henri II's emblem instead of that of his father François I would seem to indicate that these plaques, clearly copied from the earlier series, were produced at the very beginning of Henri II's reign. Their original whereabouts remains a mystery: the Feuillantines only opened their first convent in Paris in the early seventeenth century, and the building they were confiscated from was only built in the early eighteenth century.

Technical description

  • Attribué à Léonard LIMOSIN

    Plaque : Saint Paul, sous les traits de Galiot de Genouillac

    Vers 1550


  • Émail peint sur cuivre

    H. : 91,50 cm. ; L. : 43,50 cm.

  • Confiscation révolutionnaire

    Portrait of Galiot de Genouillac as Saint Paul

    MR XIII suppl. 210

  • Decorative Arts

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