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French Baroque

During the Middle Ages, France provided the artistic leadership in the Gothic art forms of stained glass, manuscript illumination, sculpture, and a number of the decorative arts. However, in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Italians captured the cultural seat of Europe, especially in painting. During these centuries of innovation and advancement, France was embroiled in many religious and political upheavals, stifling the development of strong schools of painting. While France certainly had painters of merit during the Italian Renaissance, it was not until the 16th century that France began to make a significant comeback with painters working in Fontainebleau under the influence of the Italians Rosso Fiorentino and Primaticcio. According to French art historian, Marc Fumaroli, by the beginning of the 17th century, artists made an obligatory trip to Rome for training so that all that was beautiful in Italy could be transferred to France.