Antiques and Objets d'Art

Photographic collection of antiques and objets d'art preserved in Ille-et-Vilaine (CAOA)

In 2020, the Photographic collection of antiques and objets d'art preserved in Ille-et-Vilaine had over 30,000 views. These images document 3,204 sets of movable objects protected as historical monuments, along with numerous pieces deemed sufficiently interesting from a heritage point of view to be listed in the departmental database of movable objects.

This documentary collection was created from 1908 onwards thanks to the designation of antiques and objets d'art curators in each French département and the first classifications of objects as historical monuments. Subsequent campaigns to draw up inventories, protect and restore these objects have enriched the collection with thousands of images on all kinds of photographic media.

The high risk of degradation of certain materials, such as slides on colour film from the 1960s-70s, has led us to begin digitizing them, which also makes them easier to consult.


A look at some stained glass and altarpieces found in the churches of Ille-et-Vilaine

A large section of this photographic collection relates to movable heritage found in churches.

From the late 15th century until the second half of the 16th century, stained glass art remained very present in the département's churches. The large maitresses-vitres dedicated to The Passion found in La Baussaine, Saint-Gondran and Saint-Symphorien, along with the one dedicated to The Tree of Jesse found in Moulins church deserve to be better known. Another must-see is Ille-et-Vilaine's largest collection of Renaissance stained glass windows, found in the church of Saint-Ouen-des-Iffs: nine in total, seven of which date from 1530 to 1545.

The wide-ranging reconstruction work undertaken on Ille-et-Vilaine's churches during the second half of the 19th century was also very beneficial for stained glass art. Several big name master-glassmakers from workshops in Paris (G.C. Lavergne) and Lorraine (Ch. Champigneulle) feature alongside creations by excellent local workshops (Chauvel from Vitré, Lecomte et Colin, and E. Rault from Rennes).

Several of these stained glass windows have been classified as listed furnishings to protect them from possible destruction. The heritage regulations now list them as building elements constituting part of the architecture. The same is true of altarpieces. We need to distinguish between the architectural altarpieces, carved from stone or marble, found in the choir or the arms of the transept (immovable property), and the more modest wooden structures set up to be worshipped by the faithful, taking forms adapted to the transformations of the liturgy.

There were two great periods of altarpiece construction in Ille-et-Vilaine. Firstly, the seventeenth century, in the context of the Catholic Reformation, when churches were endowed with monumental architectural altarpieces called "Lavallois" altarpieces. These are mostly found in the east of the département. Important architects who designed altarpieces during this period include Gilles Corbineau and Jean Martinet.

Secondly, the nineteenth century, during which artists drew extensive inspiration from the work of previous centuries to reinterpret forms around homogeneous movable groups (altarpieces, pulpits, stalls). These ensembles were built in various styles: Neo-Classical (in Saint-Ganton and Les Brûlais), Romano-Byzantine (in Liffré, Val-d'Izé and Saint-Martin de Vitré) and Neo-Gothic (in Dominelais, Bazouges-la-Pérouse and Etrelles).