An in-depth study of the life and career of Claudius Lavergne offers a unique insight into the artistic and religious history of the 19th century. A pupil of Ingres and friend of Lacordaire, he was one of the most significant figures in the Catholic revival of 1830-1860, as well as one of the key players in the production of stained glass in the second half of the century. He took part in the main debates that animated the profession at the time; he fought against its industrialisation, going so far as to create a guild of "glass painter artists", while opposing the so-called "archaeological" style advocated by Viollet-le-Duc.
Lavergne was one of the most assiduous contributors to the Catholic newspaper L'Univers; he commented on almost all the Salons and Universal Exhibitions between the 1850s and his death in 1887. Catholic art criticism has been little studied, and these unsuspectedly extensive writings (243 articles, sometimes reprinted in brochure form) offer a unique perspective on the art of the Second Empire and the early Third Republic.
Surveys of public archives and contacts made with collectors and the artist's descendants have brought to light a large number of previously unpublished works and first-hand documents (including hundreds of letters and drawings). These sources are invaluable for gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of artistic creation, and of how a commission for a painting or stained-glass window came about. Years of research have enabled us to reassess the corpus of paintings, stained-glass windows and drawings associated with the artist.
- M. Tim AYERS – Professeur d’histoire de l’art, University of York, Grande-Bretagne
- M. Michel HÉROLD – Conservateur général honoraire du patrimoine HDR, Centre André Chastel, Sorbonne Université, Paris
- M. Jean-François LUNEAU, conservateur en chef du patrimoine HDR, Centre André Chastel, Sorbonne Université, Paris
- Mme Catherine MÉNEUX – Maîtresse de conférence HDR, Université Paris 1 Panthéon- Sorbonne, Paris
- Mme Isabelle SAINT-MARTIN – Directrice d’études à l’École Pratique des Hautes Études, Université Paris Sciences & Lettres, Paris