Musée du Petit Palais

Avignon, France

The Musée du Petit Palais is a museum and art gallery. It opened in 1976 and has an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings of the Avignon school as well as from Italy, which reunites many 'primitives' from the collection of Giampietro Campana. It is housed in a 14th-century building at the north side of the square overlooked by the Palais des Papes.

Named Petit Palais to distinguish it from the Palais des Papes, the original structure was built during the period of the Avignon Papacy by Cardinal Bérenger Fredoli the Elder in around 1318-20. The palace and a few neighbouring buildings were bought on de Frédol's death in 1323 by Cardinal Arnaud de Via, nephew of the reigning Pope John XXII. When de Via died in 1335 Pope Benedict XII bought the building for use as the episcopal palace. The subsequent building work created an interior close to that of the present configuration with four wings around a cloister and a service court.

The building suffered during its use from 1396 as a fortified citadel during the Western Schism, and was a wreck by the time the war ended in 1411. In the second half of the 15th century, Bishop Alain de Coëtivy and his successor, Giuliano della Rovere (the future Pope Julius II) carried out restoration work, giving the Palace more or less its present appearance by 1503. Della Rovere arrived in Avignon in 1474, having been made bishop of Avignon and papal legate of Avignon by his uncle Pope Sixtus IV. He added new south and west facades in Italian Renaissance style and, in 1487, a tower (which collapsed in 1767). The Palace became known as the Palace of the Archbishop when the city was promoted to an archbishopric soon after della Rovere took office.

During the French Revolution, the palace was nationalised and sold off, becoming a Catholic secondary school in 1826 and then in 1904, with the separation of the church and the state, a professional and technical school.

The collection includes 327 works by Italian and French primitive or early-renaissance painters such as Sandro Botticelli or Vittore Carpaccio. There is also 600 sculptures including the effigy head from the tomb of Antipope Clement VII.

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Address

Rue Ferruce 6, Avignon, France
See all sites in Avignon

Details

Founded: 1503
Category: Museums in France

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Brenda Hurtrez (3 years ago)
Free museum that is nicely done
Matt Veatch (3 years ago)
As others have noted, the collection of early Italian Renaissance paintings is truly excellent. After viewing a dozen rooms of 14th and 15th century masters, the room devoted to Botticelli is startling! Humans with flesh, blood, and mass! And so perfectly lit. Go for the Botticelli’s alone.
Catherine Aitken (4 years ago)
We were stunned by this place. I have never spent 3 hours in a museum before but you couldn't drag us away! The religious art of the high Middle Ages and the Renaissance blew us away, worth the entrance price ten times over. The statues and paintings (including works by great names such as Botticelli) were stunning. It's a must see.
Douglas Smithman (4 years ago)
Nice paintings
Kurt van Ryswyk (5 years ago)
Great information, history, and wonderful atmosphere. However barely any staff speak English, and not every room has an English translated info card
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