At the heart of the cultural offer of the city of Avignon, the Calvet Museum offers collections of great richness on various themes including fine arts, decorative arts and modern art, but also archeology and ethnography. All the works presented belong, except for the deposits, to the public institution Calvet Foundation. The museographic journey allows visitors to explore a wide range of themes.
A remarkable mansion
The hotel that now houses the Calvet Museum was built in the 18th century by Joseph-Ignace de Villeneuve-Martignan, who was notably First Consul of Avignon. Destined to become the most beautiful seigniorial hotel in the city, the residence contributed to the financial ruin of its builder. The property changed owners several times, until it was bought by the city of Avignon in 1833 to house the Calvet Museum, which was too cramped within the walls of the former Saint-Martial convent. The current building respects the original appearance of the place. The courtyard offers various attractions and seduces visitors. The large trees in the garden, already celebrated in 1837 by the writer Stendhal, provide pleasant shade in summer.
Paintings and sculptures
The Calvet Museum exhibits numerous works from the collections of the Foundation.
French paintings cover a broad period ranging from the 16th to the 20th century. From Simon de Châlons, a Renaissance artist, to Joe Downing, a Franco-American artist of the second half of the 20th century, several dozen painters are on display. Italian paintings focus on the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, with famous Baroque artists such as Luca Giordano or Filippo Abbiati, or painters of the Rococo movement such as Francesco Zuccarelli. The collection of Nordic paintings sheds an interesting light on the Renaissance in Northern Europe, with famous painters such as Johann Koerbecke or Cornelis van Poelenburgh. Spanish paintings, finally, focus on some great painters such as Luis Morales or the enigmatic Lombardy.
Numerous drawings and sheets by artists from French, Italian, Spanish and Nordic schools are also presented. Great names in painting and sculpture are present in this remarkable collection. Visitors can admire drawings by Paul Cézanne, Auguste Rodin, Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Marc Chagall.
Sculpture lovers will also be able to discover many works by French sculptors from the 15th to the 19th century. Masterpieces from the late Middle Ages stand alongside masterpieces by Camille Claudel or the neo-classical sculptor Jean-Joseph Espercieux. The Calvet Museum also houses works from Italian and northern schools.
Art objects and decorative art
The collections of the Calvet Museum in Avignon are also composed of furniture, tapestries and silverware. Among the masterpieces, you will find a woolen and silk Flanders tapestry of the beginning of the 16th century, decorated with gold and silver threads, and a cabinet with paintings with twelve medallions by Frans II Francken recounting the life of the prophet Daniel.
Art objects from all over the world are also presented. Finely worked keys, lanterns with candle holders, and coffee makers are thus displayed for the public. Islamic art is represented with works of Iznik dating from the 16th century: tiles, dishes with floral decoration or decorative motifs are visible. Mamluk objects, such as an engraved copper alloy bowl, also catch the eye of the visitor. Asia is represented with pieces of great rarity such as a statuette of the god Vishnu, and the Head of Avalokiteçvara from Khmer art.
Egyptian and Ancient Archeology
Archeology enthusiasts tend to favor the pieces and remains of the Egyptian collection during their visit. The anthropoid sarcophagus of Ânkh-pa-in-di-is is the centerpiece of the collection. It probably comes from Thebes and dates from the 23rd dynasty (9th and 8th centuries BC). An alabaster canopic vase, an ex-voto from Yaï, a medallion of Ammon and a stone offering table of Harsiési are also visible.
Lapidary art lovers tend to favor the Lapidary Museum of Avignon, housed in a former chapel. Numerous pieces of great archeological value await them there, such as the Tarasque de Noves, statues of Gallic warriors discovered in Vachères or Mondragon, Venus with a dolphin or an Etruscan sarcophagus.