LAURENS, Jean-Paul
(b. 1838, Fourquevaux, d. 1921, Paris)

The Excommunication of Robert the Pious

1875
Oil on canvas, 130 x 218 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Talented painters schooled on the old masters, such as Jean-Paul Laurens, who was of the same generation as the Impressionists, were interested in seeking out the less familiar moments in medieval history, since they would impress a jaded public with the force of novelty. One such moment was the excommunication of Robert the Pious. The details, and the textural, material qualities of the things we see, have been meticulously reproduced. It is like a snapshot of a single moment, with the church delegation leaving the royal couple staring despondently at the symbolically extinguished candle.