To celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis, the Art Museum this month will present Louis IX: King, Saint, Namesake, an exhibition highlighting both exceptional art from the reign of Louis IX and later works inspired by the 13th-century monarch. The free exhibition opens Friday, August 29 and runs through November 2.
The exhibition is sure to get St. Louisans thinking about Louis IX, and why nearly 500 years after his death the city’s founders wanted to honor the French king.
“It’s good to appreciate and understand why Pierre Laclede would have chosen that name for the city,” Judith W. Mann, curator of European art to 1800, told the Ladue News. “Partly it’s because Louis’ ancestors were from the same general region of France as Laclede’s ancestors, but he was also an important saint at that time.”
Louis, as the exhibition demonstrates, was a patron of the arts, and an inspiration for artists through the 20th century.
Louis IX: King, Saint, Namesake includes important works from the museum’s collection, as well as loans from the Missouri History Museum and the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The Pierpont Morgan Library generously has loaned pages from the Morgan Library Picture Bible, one of the world’s most celebrated manuscripts. Louis IX is believed to have commissioned the Bible, Mann recently told St. Louis Public Radio. “It is of such outstanding quality it had to have been a royal commission,” she said.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum also is highlighting The Apotheosis of St. Louis, the famous bronze sculpture of a mounted Louis IX just outside the Museum’s main doors. It will be included on special tours, and the museum has developed new interpretive materials relating to the sculpture, which served as the most common symbol for the city before the Gateway Arch .
Louis IX: King, Saint, Namesake is curated by Mann with Elizabeth Wyckoff, curator of prints, drawings and photographs.