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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

The visual arts

Under Henri IV, France struggled to be the beating heart of a brilliant civilisation. In many ways, however, the king's reign was a transition period, halfway between the Renaissance and Classicism. The difficulties that the arts faced are partly due to the historical context and partly to the king's personality. Decades of civil strife had sapped the life from artistic creation; peace, when it belatedly came, only partially rectified this situation. The king himself took little interest in the arts, but he understood the role they played in fostering a sovereign's legitimacy and legacy. He also knew that royal patronage was one of the king's essential tasks, and he set about encouraging State-sponsored art.
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