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Gothic Sculptures

Tête de religieuse, XIVème siècle, marbre blanc, marbre noir
© Tête de religieuse, XIVème siècle, marbre blanc, marbre noir

The core of the museum's collection of Gothic sculpture covers a period from the very beginning of the 13th century to the start of the 16th century.  The preserved convent halls (the Chapter hall, the sacristy and the Chapel of Notre Dame de  Pitié), which are all contemporary to the pieces, make an ideal setting for these works which mostly come from Toulousan buildings.

The term ‘Gothic' was forged as a pejorative by the humanists of the Renaissance to describe the ‘barbarian' art which had preceded them. Today the term is used to name a style which appeared around 1140 in Ile-de-France (Paris and its surrounding area), on the building site for the Saint Denis Royal Abbey. This style went on to spread, more or less successfully, throughout Western Europe.

In Toulouse in the 13th century, while a southern Gothic architectural style was establishing itself with the building of Saint Etienne Cathedral, then in the great wide, single-naved, aisle-less buildings of the Jacobins, the Cordeliers and the Augustins, sculpture did not begin to adopt the Gothic style until later, in the second half of the century. This particularity can be explained by the political and religious context in the city and county of Toulouse, annexed to the kingdom of France in 1271 after a long period of troublesrelated to the Cathar heresy. The arrival in the city of the mendicant orders did not immediately foster sculpture.

A new economic prosperity built on the presence of the parliament, on trade and on the production of woad, as well as a more generally favourable context, created the conditions for a real resurgence of the workshops, from the 14th century to the beginning of the 16th century. The Renaissance was introduced as was often the case, via ornamental vocabulary. The themes addressed and the style of the sculptures fell within Gothic style until around 1520. The small number of secular works preserved no doubt accentuates this impression, as religious sculpture was often more conformist, following the requests of the patrons themselves.


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the collections

Funerary art

Churches and convents attracted large numbers of clergy, noblemen, lawyers, merchants and artisans who wanted to be buried close to holy relics.

The Chapel of Rieux

This chapter is somewhat artificial as here we discuss funerary sculpture once again, this time in its most extensive development! The piece in question is not a tomb or a cross but an entire chapel with all of its sculpted decor.

Around 1500


Around 1500. Between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Mystical movements have always largely centred on a meditation on the suffering of Christ. It is to those movements that the art of the end of the century owes this taste for the...

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