Louis IX: King, Saint, Namesake
August 29–November 2, 2014
Galleries 234 and 235


As part of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city of St. Louis, the Saint Louis Art Museum presents a free exhibition highlighting both exceptional art from the reign of Louis IX and later works inspired by the celebrated 13th-century monarch. Presented in two galleries, Louis IX: King, Saint, Namesake will focus on the arts created under Louis IX as well as the ongoing interest and devotion to this very popular king turned saint.

The first gallery will be devoted to art produced during the reign of Louis IX(1226-70), a period of exceptional achievement in architecture and painted manuscripts. Carved ivory and metalwork from the late 13th century will be presented along with outstanding examples of decorated manuscripts from this period. The centerpiece of this gallery will be pages from the famed Morgan Library Picture Bible, believed to have been commissioned by Louis IX, himself. Completed around 1250, the Bible is regarded as a stellar example of Gothic manuscript illumination, appropriate for a royal commission.

Visitors also will get to see the materials used in the making of manuscripts, including a display of pigments, touchable samples of the animal-skin parchment used to make medieval books, and a six-minute video showing the various aspects of manuscript construction – from scraping the fur off the skins to preparing the page before scribes executed the text and artists added richly colored illustration.

The second gallery will focus on the life and legacy of Louis, both as king and, later, as saint. The exhibition includes images of Louis from the 17th, 19th, and 20th centuries, along with explanatory material about Louis's life, his popularity as a saint, and his relationship to the city of St. Louis. Featured in this part of the exhibition will be a 17th-century illustrated book about Louis's most famous achievement (bringing the Crown of Thorns to Paris), a portrait of a 17th-century poet in the guise of St. Louis, and an altarpiece painting by Charles Coypel (1694–1752) that Bishop Louis William Valentine DuBourg sent to the city of St. Louis in 1818.

Louis IX: King, Saint, Namesake is curated by Judith W. Mann, curator of European art to 1800, with Elizabeth Wyckoff, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs.

This exhibition is in conjunction with STL250, celebrating the 250th Birthday of St. Louis. To learn more about STL250,click here.
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