Segments in this Video

"The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia" Introduction (02:40)


Hear a description of mid-15th century France in the aftermath of the Hundred Years’ War. Charles VII located his court in Tours. Between 1452 and 1461, Jean Fouquet worked on a painting of a saint being tortured; this film will examine his artistic intentions.

"The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia" Illuminated Manuscript (02:28)

Fouquet's work is among 47 miniatures for a book of hours—a prayer book that lay people use to pray at home. He eliminated traditional floral borders and integrated the capital letter into the composition, creating full page paintings.

"The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia" Composition (03:48)

Hear an analysis of subjects and figures in Fouquet's illumination. In another painting for the book or hours, his depiction of Job in a naturalist landscape and his use of perspective show attempts at realism.

Mystery Play (02:57)

Fouquet's "The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia" depicts a type of religious performance popular in the Middle Ages. Learn about medieval theater and stage set techniques. Fouquet was a "Master of Secrets," or mystery director.

Journey to Italy (02:54)

Fouquet was commissioned to paint Pope Eugene IV, and received praise for his portraiture skills. His "Crucifixion" resembles that of Fra Angelico and Jan Van Eyck. He used Alberti's rules on perspective to create a circular scene echoing a Roman amphitheater.

"The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia" Patron (02:19)

Etienne Chevalier was a royal cabinet member who commissioned the book of hours and the Melun Diptych. Fouquet featured Chevalier and Charles VIII in several illuminations and represented the 1453 victory over the English.

Medieval Propaganda Art (02:19)

Charles VIII's reign was consumed by the Hundred Years' War. Fouquet's illuminations in the Great Chronicle of France helped him appear strong. He also painted trials of noblemen that had opposed the king.

Patron Saint of Dentists (02:09)

Fouquet enjoyed painting crowds. Medieval dental patients went to barbers for treatment or prayed to Saint Apollonia. Hear methods of pulling teeth.

Depicting Medieval Violence (02:31)

Charles VIII authorized militia groups to fight nobility who contested his authority. Pain and suffering are common in Fouquet's paintings. He drew inspiration from the Golden Legend that detailed the torture of early Christians, such as St. Barbara.

Peak of Medieval Art (01:11)

After years of bloodshed, Charles VIII stabilized his kingdom with a professional army and an improved administrative system. By using a theater allegory, "The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia" distances viewers from violence and lays the groundwork for humanism.

Credits: The Martyrdom of Saint Appolonia by Jean Fouquet: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings (00:37)

Credits: The Martyrdom of Saint Appolonia by Jean Fouquet: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings

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The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia by Jean Fouquet: Smart Secrets of Great Paintings

Part of the Series : Smart Secrets of Great Paintings
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With a tiny and delicate paintbrush, Jean Fouquet adds the golden threads of a tentative humanism to “The Martyrdom of Saint Apollonia” (circa 1450) and unveils a glimmer of the modern era, crouching behind the horizon of the Middle Ages. This film analyzes the illumination for clues of what Fouquet sought to convey to viewers. Completed for a book of hours commissioned by one of Charles VIII’s financial advisors, it portrays Apollonia’s martyrdom as a mystery play— theatrical performances of Biblical stories popular in medieval towns— to distance viewers from the act of violence. The film also discusses Fouquet’s journey to Italy, where he learned about perspective from Renaissance artists, and talks about his propaganda work as the Hundred Years’ War drew to a close.

Length: 27 minutes

Item#: BVL114922

ISBN: 978-1-68272-930-4

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.