Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon

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Musée du Petit Palais in Avignon.
Madonna and Child, by Taddeo di Bartolo.

The Musée du Petit Palais is a museum and art gallery in Avignon, southern France. 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.[1][2]

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.[3][2] 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 (with oculi, a west-facing door surmonted with a triangular pediment, window drip-moldings and his insignia facing south) 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.[4][5] The building was listed as a historic monument in 1910.[6] The restoration work, began in 1961, was supervised by Jean Sonnier, the chief architect of the Monument historique, the national heritage organization in France.[5] The building opened as a museum in 1976.[2]



  1. ^ "Les diverses étapes de construction du bâtiment" (in French). Fondation Calvet. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Vingtain & Aujard-Catot 2001, pp. 60-61.
  3. ^ Girard 1958, p. 158.
  4. ^ Girard 1958, p. 160.
  5. ^ a b "La période contemporaine du Petit Palais" (in French). Fondation Calvet. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Monuments Historiques: Ancien petit séminaire, dit Petit Palais ou Palais Jules II, actuellement Musée du Petit Palais". Ministère de la culture et de la Communication – Mérimée database. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 


  • Girard, Joseph (1958). Évocation du Vieil Avignon. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit. OCLC 5391399. 
  • Vingtain, Dominique; Aujard-Catot, Roland, eds. (2001). Avignon: Musées, Monuments, Promenades (in French). Paris: Éditions du patrimoine. ISBN 2-85822-555-9. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Vallery-Radot, Jean (1963). "Le Petit Palais". Congrès archéologique de France, 121ème session, Avignon et Comtat Venaissin. Paris: Société Française d'Archéologie. pp. 59–104. 
  • Vertova, Luisa (1977). "A new museum is born". The Burlington Magazine 119 (888): 158–167. JSTOR 878733. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°57′9.5″N 4°48′23″E / 43.952639°N 4.80639°E / 43.952639; 4.80639