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Jean Vignaud (French, 1775–1826),
Abelard and Heloise Surprised by the Abbot Fulbert , 1819
oil on canvas, 47 ½ x 39 ¾ in.; 120.65 x 100.96 cm
Museum purchase, Collectors' Choice, 1985, 1985.6

A typical example of early-nineteenth-century Troubadour Painting, Abelard and Heloise reflects a romanticized fascination with the Middle Ages, not only in its subject (a true story of tragic love in the twelfth century), but also in its style. Imitating the detailed precision of Gothic art, the costumes, furniture, and decor are depicted in a flat, “primitive” manner, while carefully applied transparent glazes produce clear color contrasts and an enamel-like finish. 

The Troubadour style’s fusion of history and genre painting, its meticulous finish and jewel-like colors, remained a popular formula in Academic art throughout the nineteenth century.

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