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The main courtyard of the museum.

The Calvet Museum (musée Calvet) is the main museum in Avignon. Since the 1980s the collection has been split between two buildings, with the fine arts housed in an 18th century hôtel particulier and a separate Lapidary Museum in the former chapel of the city's Jesuit college on rue de la République. It is one of the museums run by the Fondation Calvet.

Its collections also include goldwork, faience, porcelain, tapisteries, ironwork and other examples decorative arts, along with archaeology and Asian, Oceanian and African ethnography.[1]


The hôtel de Villeneuve-MartignanEdit

The museum is housed in a building on the site of the Livrée de Cambrai, named after its last inhabitant, cardinal Pierre d'Ailly, bishop of Cambrai. In 1719, it was sold to François-René de Villeneuve, marquis d'Arzeliers and lord of Martignan, in the Principality of Orange.[2]

Philippe Sauvan [fr] (1698-1789), Portrait of Esprit Calvet (c. 1778-1780), Avignon, musée Calvet.

In 1734, de Villeneuve's son Jacques-Ignace de Villeneuve decided to extend the building to designs by Thomas Lainée [fr], but later changed his mind and razed the whole building in 1741, replacing it with a completely new one to designs by Jean-Baptiste Franque [fr].[3] Work on this new construction was only completed in 1749,[4] which was then bought in 1802 by the businessman Deleutre, who then rented it to the city authorities as a home for Esprit Calvet's collections. The authorities acquired it on 3 March 1833 to turn into a museum.[5] The hôtel de Villeneuve-Martignan was made a monument historique on 1 October 1963.[6]


A major collector and a physiocrat by training, Esprit Calvet devoted his life to medicine and arts. In 1810 his will left his library, natural history collection and cabinet of antiquities to his birthplace of Avignon,[7] along with the necessary funds to make them accessible as an independent institution.[8] Napoleon I issued a decree on 9 April 1811 from the palais des Tuileries allowing Avignon's mayor to accept the legacy for and in the name of the city of Avignon.[9] · [10] The resulting museum was named after him and housed his collection.




16th and 17th centuriesEdit
  • Simon de Châlons [fr] : The Holy Family ; The Adoration of the Shepherds ; The Resurrection ; Lament over the Dead Christ.
  • Nicolas Mignard : Saint Michel Defeating the Rebel Angels ; Saint Bruno at Prayer ; Vice-Legate Frédéric Sforza ; The Virgin Mary Granting the Scapular to Saint Simon Stock ; Pietà ; Self-Portrait.
  • Reynaud Levieux [fr] : Laban Seeking His Idols ; The Archangel Gabriel Appearing to Zacharias.
  • Pierre Dupuis : Still Life with Vegetables and Apricots.
  • Pierre Mignard : Portrait of Henri de Forbin Maynier, baron d'Oppède ; Alexander Meets the Queen of the Amazons.
  • Pierre II Mignard : Allegory of Spring ; Allegory of Summer ; Allegory of Autumn ; Allegory of Winter ; Apollo Flaying Marsyas ; Noli me tangere.
18th centuryEdit
19th centuryEdit
20th centuryEdit


16th and 17th centuriesEdit
18th centuryEdit


Northern EuropeEdit

Johann Koerbecke, Resurrection (1457).



15th to 18th centuryEdit
Child with a Dog, French, 16th century, marble.
  • Virgin of Pity, stone with traces of paint.
  • Child with a Dog, white marble with traces of paint
  • Tomb of La Palice : alabaster representations of Wisdom, Justice and Strength from the tomb of Jacques II de Chabannes de La Palice, recovered from his castle chapel after the tomb's destruction in the French Revolution; the representation of the fourth cardinal virtue, Temperance, is lost
  • Jean-Baptiste Guillermin : Christ on the Cross with a Skull, elephant ivory crucifix from the chapel of the black penitents in Avignon.
19th centuryEdit

Northern EuropeEdit

North European School, early 16th century, Officer and Roman soldier
  • Anonymous, Officer and Roman soldier, early 16th century, high-relief in painted and gilded black walnut, probably from an altarpiece of the crucifixion
  • Anonymous, Saint Michael Killing a Dragon, gilded and painted limewood


  • Francesco Laurana, Bust of a Child, marble with traces of paint and gilding.
  • Pietro Torrigiano : Head of Christ as Saviour of the World, bronze.
  • Anonymous, Ambling Horse, bronze with brown patina

Prints and DrawingsEdit

It includes leaves by artists from most of the French and Italian schools as well as a smaller number of Spanish and North European works. Northern artists in the collection include Hendrik Goltzius, Jan Van Goyen and Raphael Mengs, whilst Spanish ones include Vincenzo Carducci and Juan de Valdés Leal.

French artists represented include Le Lorrain, Eustache Le Sueur, Antoine Watteau, François Boucher, Charles-Joseph Natoire, Jean-Marc Nattier, Auguste Rodin, Honoré Daumier, Jean-François Millet, Eugène Boudin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Armand Guillaumin, Berthe Morisot, Paul Cézanne, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Henri-Edmond Cross, Édouard Vuillard, Georges Rouault, Albert Marquet, Marc Chagall, André Lhote, Léonard Foujita and Jean Fautrier.

Italian artists include Domenico Beccafumi, Lorenzo Lotto, Baccio Bandinelli, Daniele da Volterra, Il Romanino, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, Jacopo Zucchi, Taddeo Zuccaro, Il Garofalo, Agostino Carracci, Federico Barocci, Mattia Preti, Luca Giordano, Domenico Fetti, Guercino, Alessandro Algardi, Luigi Garzi, Francesco Furini, Pier Francesco Mola, Daniele Crespi, Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni and Amedeo Modigliani.

Tapestries and furnitureEdit

This part of the collection includes:

  • David and Bathsheba, tapestry, Flemish, early 16th century, wool and silk with gold and silver thread
  • Chest with allegories of the Three Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity) and the Four Cardinal Virtues (Strength, Justice, Wisdom, Temperance), northern French, early 16th century walnut, oak and cherrywood.
Frans II Francken, cabinet, after 1620).
  • Cabinet of curiosities with twelve medallions of the life of the prophet Daniel from the Book of Daniel, painted by Frans II Francken, dated 1620 on its reverse, from the Puech collection.

Key : 1- Daniel and King Cyrus Before those Sacrificing 2- Cyrus Adores the God Bel 3- Daniel Spreading Ashes 4- The Gate of Bel's Sanctuary Sealed by Royal Decree 5- Night Ceremonies by the Priests of Bel 6- Daniel Revealing the Priests' Secret Ceremonies to King Cyrus 7- King Cyrus Arresting the Priests of Bel 8- Daniel Throws Balls into the Dragon's Mouth 9- Habakkuk Preparing to give Provisions to the Harvesters 10- Habakkuk Rescuing Daniel from the Lions' Den 11- Cyrus Sees Daniel Safe in the Lions' Den 12- The Lions Devouring Daniel's Tormentors

Egyptian archaeologyEdit

Sarcophagus of Ânk-pa-in-di-is (23rd Dynasty).

The Egyptian section consists of Esprit Calvet's collection along with that of Marius Clément from Marseille and other purchases, including:

  • sycamore anthropoid sarcophagus of Ânkh-pa-in-di-is (honourable mistress of the house), with paint and plaster, probably from Thebes, 23rd Dynasty. Its interior shows the goddess Nut as a Libyan-featured woman in profile in a long flowing tunic and a wig[12] ;
  • alabaster canopic jar in the form of a head of Amset, with the name of Iahmès, 26th Dynasty[13] ;
  • a family ex-voto of Yaï (director of the shipyards), carved with images of the dead man and members of his family such as his wife (singer to the god Sobek), 13th Dynasty[14] ;
  • limestone offering table of Harsiési and Pa-di-Mout, probably from Abydos, 26th Dynasty, Sait period[15] ;
  • ochre stone hemispherical medallion of the head of Ammon with hair bound by a band and decorated all over with flowers or vines, 1st century CE, Gallo-Roman, discovered at Caderousse and offered to Calvet by the Christian Doctrine Fathers (he was their doctor until the congregation was dispersed) ;
  • stela raised by Setaou, viceroy of Nubia, Ramses II, with a funerary cult scene at the top with Osiris and his sisters Isis and Nephtys.


  • 1814-1823 : Pierre-Bertrand Dejean[16]
  • 1823-1838 : Joseph Guérin [fr]
  • 1838-1840 : Marie-Charles-Jean-Louis-Casimir De Blégier
  • 1841-1849 : Dominique-Victor-Hyacinthe Chaubaud
  • 1849-1851 : Esprit Requien
  • 1852-1890 : Augustin Deloye
  • 1890-1906 : Léon-Honoré Labande
  • 1906-1949 : Joseph Girard
  • 1949-1984 : Georges De Loye
  • 1984-1991 : Marie-Pierre Foissy-Aufrère
  • 1992-1995 : Odile Cavalier (Lapidary Museum only)
  • 1995-2004 : Pierre Provoyeur
  • 2005-2015 : Sylvain Boyer


  1. ^ "Le Musée Calvet d'Avignon".
  2. ^ Joseph Girard, op cit, p. 290.
  3. ^ Joseph Girard, op cit, p. 294.
  4. ^ Joseph Girard, op cit, p. 295.
  5. ^ Joseph Girard, op cit, p. 299.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Known as the bibliothèque Calvet, then the Museum Calvet, now the Fondation Calvet (Séance du 8 avril 1826 and arrêt du Conseil d'État du 19 mai 1893 on the site of the
  8. ^ Will of Esprit Calvet on the site of the
  9. ^ Copy of the decree on
  10. ^ "Décret impérial. Textes fondateurs/1811".
  11. ^ According to a tradition told by Voltaire in his History of Charles XII, Ivan Mazeppa was discovered in adultery and sentenced to be strapped to a savage horse completely naked and borne to the edge of the Ukrainian steppes.
  12. ^ Musée Calvet, sarcophage.
  13. ^ Musée Calvet, vase canope.
  14. ^ Musée Calvet, ex-voto de Yaï.
  15. ^ Table d'offrandes
  16. ^ Conservateurs du musée Calvet on


  • Alexis Mouzin, « La collection du maître ferronnier Noël Biret au Musée Calvet », in Mémoires de l'Académie de Vaucluse [fr], 1919, p. 1-15 (online)
  • Joseph Girard, « Les Villeneuve-Martignan et leur hôtel à Avignon », in Mémoires de l'Académie de Vaucluse, 1935, p. 103-138 (online)
  • Sylvain Gagnière and Pierre de Brun, Les Lampes antiques du musée Calvet d'Avignon, preface by abbé Joseph Sautel, 1937.
  • Sylvain Gagnière and Jacky Granier, Épées, poignards et couteaux en bronze du musée Calvet d'Avignon, Ogam : tradition celtique, 79, 1962, p. 13–24.
  • Joseph Girard, « Histoire du musée Calvet », dans Provence historique, tome 4, fascicule 18, 1954, p. 6-130 (pdf online).
  • Joseph Girard, Évocation du vieil Avignon, Paris, Les Éditions de Minuit, 1958 réédition 2007, p. 200-213 ISBN 270731353X.
  • Pascale Picard (ed.), Mirabilis, Collections d'Avignon (cat. exp. 2018), Milan, Silvana Editoriale, Avignon, AvignonMusées, 2018, 190 p.

External linksEdit