The restoration of the Temple de Lyon in the seventeenth century
In the cultural history of Lyons the seventeenth century has usually been considered as a void between the city's brief but brilliant period as seat of court and thereby intellectual and artistic centre in the early sixteenth century and its role, from the revival of the silk industry in the eighteenth century, as one of the first great neo-classical cities. This view is congruent with a concept of passive decline in provincial France under the rule of Louis XIV. Yet the evidence of Lyons' urban fabric suggests otherwise, for more civic-sponsored building took place in the city during the seventeenth century than in either the century which preceded it or that which followed it. Furthermore this considerable activity culminated in the construction of a new Hotel de Ville immediately acknowledged as surpassing its Parisian counterpart. My dissertation begins by reconstructing these developments in the town, and in particular of those in the Terreaux district, around and including the Hotel de Ville and the College de la Trinite, which thus became Lyons' new capitol. It then proceeds to examine the three principal ceremonial spaces in the town - the Grand Escalier and the Grande Salle in the Hotel de Ville and the Grande Cour in the College de la Trinite - so as to show how the decoration of these spaces constituted a unified iconographical programme, the Restoration of the (Roman) Temple de Lyon. The detailed analysis of these painted decorations, taken with an examination of the dramatic performances sponsored by the Consulate and contemporary transformations in Consular ceremonial, reveals Lyons' self-image in the mid- to late- seventeenth century, such as to force a re-evaluation of the city's politico-economic situation during this period.