Monday, November 24, 2008

The Chapel Saint-Louis, Monastère de la grande chartreuse

Interior of the Chapel Saint-Louis
Marble and stucco
1st half of the 17th century
Monastère de la grande chartreuse
Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, Isère

As is well known, The Grande Chartreuse is the head monastery of the Carthusian order.

The Chapel of St Louis was ordered to be decorated on the orders of King Louis XIII.

Louis IX (25 April 1214 – 25 August 1270), commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 to his death. He is the only canonized King of France

Louis XIII (September 27, 1601 – May 14, 1643) ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1610 to 1643. His reputation today is coloured by being a central figures in Alexandre Dumas, père's novel, The Three Musketeers and subsequent film adaptations. The book depicts Louis as a man willing to have Richelieu as a powerful advisor but aware of his scheming; he is depicted as a bored and sour man, dwarfed by Richelieu's competence and intellect. There is also speculation about his sexuality.

However there were a number of positive aspects of Louis XIIIs character. He was a decout Catholic. In 1638, he placed France under the protection of the Virgin Mary. He helped Saint Vincent de Paul found his congregation. He allowed the return of the Jesuits from Clermont to Paris.

The King also worked to reverse the trend of promising French artists leaving for Italy to work and study. Louis XIII commissioned the artists Nicolas Poussin and Philippe de Champaigne to decorate the Louvre. The restoration of the chapel of Saint Louis was part of these efforts.