A black-and-white, horizontal print depicts multiple Roman-style male figures on horseback. They hold weapons or brass musical instruments and process, somewhat chaotically, towards the viewer's right. Oct 21, 2023, to Oct 20, 2024 Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella’s ambitious series of 25 prints, The Entrance of the Emperor Sigismond into Mantua (engraved 1675; published 1787), reproduces an Italian Renaissance stucco frieze designed by Giulio Romano (1499–1546) for the Palazzo Te in Mantua. This exhibition examines the context in which Bouzonnet-Stella (1641–1676) created these engravings, commissioned by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, advisor to King Louis XIV. Her work at the French court was part of Colbert’s plan as vice-protecteur of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture to promote a “French style,” based in classical art. In her family’s workshop, housed within the Louvre, Bouzonnet-Stella, along with her sisters, Claudine and Françoise, and brother, Antoine, assisted her maternal uncle, the painter and printmaker Jacques Stella (1596–1657). The sisters, particularly Antoinette and Claudine, made print reproductions of their uncle’s paintings and also received outside commissions for projects such as The Entrance of the Emperor Sigismond into Mantua. Exquisitely executed, the engravings by Bouzonnet-Stella demonstrate how the power of classical art was borrowed from antiquity, employed in 16th-century Italy, and sought by the 17th-century French court.
As a companion to the in-person presentation of Bouzonnet-Stella’s prints, an online exhibition provides additional context into her life and work. This digital platform enables side-by-side comparisons of the prints with images of the original frieze, still extant at the Palazzo Te. Additionally, the digital exhibition shares in-depth information about printmaking techniques and the Stella family workshop.