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Thuillier, Jacques

    Full Name: Thuillier, Jacques

    Other Names:

    • Jacques Thullier

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 18 March 1928

    Date Died: 18 October 2011

    Place Born: Vaucouleurs, Grand Est, France

    Place Died: Paris, Île-de-France, France

    Home Country/ies: France

    Subject Area(s): French (culture or style) and seventeenth century (dates CE)


    Scholar of Poussin and 17th-century French art; professor and art collector. Thuillier’s parents were André Thuillier, professor at the Lycée technique de Nevers, and Berthe Caritey (Thuillier). After having attended the Lycée de Nevers Thuillier studied from 1951 to 1955 at the École Normale Supérieure, in Paris. He obtained his degree of Agrégé des Lettres classiques in 1954, receiving fellowships at the Fondation Primoli, Rome, (1955-1956) and at the Fondation Thiers, Paris (1956-1959). Between 1956 and 1959 he also held a teaching position at the Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie, Université de Paris, Sorbonne. In 1958 he was among the participants in the international Poussin Colloquium, directed by André Chastel. In 1959 Thuillier was appointed assistant professor of art history at the Sorbonne. Thuillier’s research on Poussin, including a collection of seventeenth-century literary sources on Poussin, the so-called “Corpus Pussinianum”, appeared in the Actes du Colloque International Nicolas Poussin (1960). In that year the Poussin exhibition at the Louvre, organized by Germain Bazin, Anthony Blunt, and Charles Sterling, instituted the long-running debate about the chronology and authenticity of the artist’s early works, challenged principally by Denis Mahon, Thuillier would ultimately be drawn in on. Thuillier was a founding member of the journals Art de France (1960) and Revue de l’Art (1968). In 1962 he was appointed chair of medieval and modern art and of musicology at the Faculté des Lettres et Sciences humaines de Dijon. Together with the Baroque scholar Jennifer Montagu, he wrote the catalog of the 1963 Charles Le Brun exhibition at the Musée national de Versailles. He co-authored with Albert Châtelet two monographs on French painting, one covering the period of art betwen [Jean] Fouquet to Poussin (1963) and the second from Le Nain to Fragonard (1964). His book on the Marie de Medici cycle painted by Rubens appeared in 1967 both in Italian and in English, as Rubens’ Life of Marie de’ Medici. The French edition followed in 1969. Thuillier obtained the degree of Docteur ès lettres in 1970. In that year he succeeded Chastel as professor of the history of modern and contemporary art, and subsequently professor of the history of modern art, at the Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie at the Sorbonne. His successor in his position in Dijon was Antoine Schnapper. Thuillier organized the retrospective Georges de La Tour exhibition in the Orangerie des Tuileries in 1972 with Pierre Rosenberg and Michel Laclotte. In 1974 he published his critical catalog of the works of Poussin, Tout l’ouvre peint de Nicolas Poussin; documentation et catalogue raisonné. In 1977 Thuillier was elected to the “chaire d’histoire de la création artistique en France” at the Collège de France. Continuing his pioneering research on seventeenth-century French painting, he organized a show on the Le Nains brothers at the Grand Palais in 1978. In 1982 and 1992 he was involved in exhibitions on seventeenth-century Lorraine artists, held in Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts. In 1994 he issued a second monograph on Poussin, followed in 1995 by the catalog of the Feigen Gallery, New York, exhibition of early work of the artist, considered “essential to all concerned with Poussin studies” (Sewell). Thuillier retired in 1998. As honorary professor he continued to publish on different topics. He was selected to write the updated volume on European decorative arts, from the Renaissance to the Baroque, for the Spanish-language scholarly encyclopedia, Summa artis, historia general del arte, which appeared in 2000. His monograph, Jacques de Bellange, was published at the occasion of the exhibition of the artist in Rennes, in 2001. A 2002 Flammarion Histoire de l’art was not well received. Among his last publications was his Galerie des Glaces (2007), following the restoration of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles Palace. Thuillier figured among the important Poussin scholars of the second half of the twentieth century, along with Mahon and Blunt. He played a major role in national and international committees, such as the Comité national de la recherche scientifique (CoNRS) and the Comité international d’histoire de l’art (CIHA). In 1991 he became a member of the Conseil artistique des Musées nationaux. He was a generous benefactor to French museums. His large donations of art to the Musée départemental George de la Tour in Vic-sur-Seille were instrumental in creating this museum, which opened in 2003. He donated an important collection of drawings and prints to the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Nancy.

    Selected Bibliography

    [bibliography:]; “Tableaux attribués à Poussin dans les archives révolutionnaires” in Nicolas Poussin, Actes du Colloque International Nicolas Poussin, Paris, 1958. Paris: CNRS, 1960, vol. 2, pp. 27-44; “Pour un Corpus Pussinianum” in Nicolas Poussin, Actes du Colloque International Nicolas Poussin, Paris, 1958. Paris: CNRS, 1960, vol. 2, pp. 49-238; and Montagu, Jennifer. Catalogue de l’Exposition Charles Le Brun. Château de Versailles, 1963; and Châtelet, Albert. La peinture française de Fouquet à Poussin. Geneva: Skira, 1963; La peinture française de Le Nain à Fragonard. Geneva: Skira, 1964; Rubens’ Life of Marie de’ Medici, New York: Abrams, 1967; and Rosenberg, Pierre, and Landry, Pierre. Catalogue de l’Exposition Georges de La Tour, Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris: Éditions des Musées Nationaux, 1972; Tout l’ouvre peint de George de la Tour. Rizzoli-Flammarion, 1973; Catalogue de l’Exposition Les Frères Le Nain, Grand Palais, Paris, 1978; Tout l’ouvre peint de Nicolas Poussin; documentation et catalogue raisonné. Paris: Flammarion, 1974; Nicolas Poussin (Biographie) Paris: Fayard, 1988; Préface au ‘Cours de peinture par principes’ par Roger de Piles. Paris: Gallimard, 1989, pp. III-XXIX; Nicolas Poussin. Paris: Flammarion, 1994; Poussin Before Rome, 1594-1624. London: Richard L. Feigen & Co, 1995; and others. Summa artis, historia general del arte 46, 1. Las artes decorativas en Europa. Del renacimiento al barroco. Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 2000; Sébastien Bourdon, 1616-1671: catalogue critique et chronologique de l’oeuvre complet. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2000; Jacques de Bellange. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, 2001; Histoire de l’art. Flammarion, 2002; Jacques Stella, 1596-1657. Metz: Serge Domini, 2006; La Galerie des Glaces, chef d’Åuvre retrouvé. Paris: Gallimard, 2007.


    Blunt, Anthony. [Review “The Literature of Art”] “Colloque Nicolas Poussin. Publié sous la Direction de André Chastel” in The Burlington Magazine 102, nr. 688 (1960): 330-332; Sewell, Brian. “The Blunt Truth about Poussin? ” Evening Standard (London) February 2, 1995, p. 30; [obituaries:] Rykner, Didier. “Disparition de Jacques Thuillier” La Tribune de l’art. October 20, 2011; Montagu, Jennifer. “Jacques Thuillier (1928-2011)” Burlington Magazine 154, nr. 1308 (March, 2012): 202; Jobert, Barthélémy, and Mérot, Alain. Revue de l’Art nr. 176 (2012): 85-87; Lemoine, Serge. “Jacques Thuillier (1927-2011), un grand maître de l’histoire de l’art” Le, Novembre 2, 2011; “Décès de Jacques Thuillier, Carnet Né dans la Meuse, cet historien de l’art français fut aussi un grand donateur” L’Est Républicain, Octobre 21, 2011, p. 19;

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen and Monique Daniels


    Lee Sorensen and Monique Daniels. "Thuillier, Jacques." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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