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The consumption of Italian paintings in Avignon during the 14th century

Étienne Anheim
p. 23-42


The relocation of the Papal Court from Italy to France at the beginning of the 14th century and its installation in Avignon for several decades from 1309 gives the opportunity to reflect on the practices of consumption of Italian paintings outside the peninsula. We are first dealing with the construction of an artistic labor market based on the mobility of artists, and then with the construction of a market for works of art, very gradually established, thanks to the new mobility of paintings. Avignon thus played the role of a laboratory for the diffusion of Italian painting in late medieval Europe, both from an aesthetic and economic point of view.

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Notes de l’auteur

I would like to thank Philippe Bernardi, Nicolas Bock, Marie Fontaine-Gastan, Charlotte Guichard, Valérie Theis and Michele Tomasi for their help at various stages in the development of this work. The article was translated from French by Nicolas Bock.

Extrait du texte

Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en décembre 2021.


Paintings consumption and circulation of artists
Painting consumption and circulation of works

Aperçu du texte

“Not too much stress should be laid on the fact that the Curia had been moved to Avignon in 1309, not to return to Rome until 1377. […] It is safe to assume that the history of fourteenth-century painting would not have been much changed if the Popes continued to reside in the Lateran.”

With this famous statement, Erwin Panofsky raised the issue of how paintings and culture circulated between Italy and Provence in the 14th century. His view has since been questioned, especially by Enrico Castelnuovo and Michel Laclotte and Dominique Thiébaut. But perhaps not enough attention has been paid to the assumption underlying Panofsky’s opinion: that art history is an autonomous field and that matters of displacement and exchange, aesthetically as well as economically and socially, have no place in it. On the contrary, I would like to reflect here on the opposite approach, that is, placing the history of Italian painting into a material history of consumption, and questioning how the install...

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Référence papier

Étienne Anheim, « The consumption of Italian paintings in Avignon during the 14th century »Études de lettres, 314 | 2020, 23-42.

Référence électronique

Étienne Anheim, « The consumption of Italian paintings in Avignon during the 14th century »Études de lettres [En ligne], 314 | 2020, mis en ligne le 15 décembre 2021, consulté le 27 février 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Étienne Anheim

EHESS, Paris

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© Études de lettres

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