'Distantia Jungit': Scots patronage of the visual arts in France, c.1445 – c.1545
Coombs, Bryony Jane
This thesis examines interest in the visual arts by patrons of Scottish descent, active in France, c.1445 to c.1545: the Monypenny family, Bérault and Robert Stuart d'Aubigny, and John Stuart, Duke of Albany. During this period the Auld Alliance played a key role in relations between Scotland and France, and large numbers of Scots travelled to France as mercenaries, scholars, and diplomats. Many relocated to France permanently and were granted letters of naturalisation. This thesis argues that an examination of the visual arts commissioned by this group of patrons enhances our understanding of the integration of Scots into French society at this time. It explores how the visual arts reflected, and were used to advance their careers, social standing, and spheres of influence, broaching issues of identity and power relations. The investigation explores how artistic patronage was a vital method by which a patron could express his social identity and aspirations. Examining patronage enables the historian to acquire a greater understanding of the patron's priorities and ambitions, and allows the art historian to situate works of art in a historical framework, thus gaining a clearer understanding of their meanings. This research is important as it covers a large corpus of works that, although linked by the unusual circumstances of their patrons, have not previously been studied together. As the artistic patronage of Scots in France during this period has hitherto not been examined, it cannot be assumed that the same priorities and influences that shaped French patrons during this period also shaped the patronage examined in this study. This thesis demonstrates that in many instances the Scottish heritage of these patrons was instrumental in shaping their demands, and thus the finished work of art. The study of the patronage of the visual arts in France has become a vibrant area of research. Yet the patronage of non-native communities, such as Scots in France, remains largely unstudied. This thesis shows that there is a rich diversity of visual material, both extant and documented, which may be associated with these Scots. Furthermore, it demonstrates how examining a patrons career may provide interesting insights into their works of art; and it shows how discovering biographical details about the patrons permits a more complete reconstruction of the circumstances in which works of art were made, displayed, and understood. Whilst comparatively little visual material survives in Scotland from this period, an examination of the visual arts commissioned by Scots in France tells us a great deal about Scots' relationships to the arts at this time, and their use of works of art as a means of 'self fashioning'. This research has uncovered exciting new information regarding all patrons investigated. Furthermore, it has identified Bremond Domat, a previously unrecognised artist working for John Stuart, Duke of Albany, to whom a small, but important, body of work may unambiguously be attributed.