The Beaux-Arts de Paris has just begun the restoration of one of the most precious works preserved in its collections: La Trinité aux Chanoines, painted for Notre-Dame de Paris by the Master of Dunois in the first half of the 15th century.
The history of this work is quite extraordinary: after having been part of Alexandre Lenoir's French Monuments Museum, it remained for more than 70 years in the attic of his son, the archaeologist Albert Lenoir, who, as a secretary, resided at the School of Fine Arts. When he found this wooden panel by chance in 1884, the origin of the work, the date of its realization, its author and its iconography were completely forgotten. They remained so for more than a century: it was only in 1999 that its link with the canons of Notre-Dame de Paris and its attribution to the master of Dunois were brought to light again.
This work, which conforms to the iconography of the Trinité aux Chanoines established in the 15th century (the father in majesty, Christ and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove), is in reality a group portrait since the figures surrounding the Trinité aux Chanoines represent the canons of Notre-Dame. It is now considered to be one of the few surviving examples of Parisian painting of the first half of the 15th century.
In October 2020, the work was transported to the Centre de recherches et de restauration des Musées de France (C2RMF) to be examined before restoration. Contrary to other Parisian paintings of this period, it seems that it has hardly been restored since the time of Alexandre Lenoir and therefore constitutes an extraordinary testimony to the pictorial practice of this period. Its material study by the C2RMF will thus shed more than significant light on the knowledge of the very beginnings of French painting.
The restoration work was entrusted to Emanuela Bonaccini for the pictorial layer and Jonathan Graindorge-Lamour for the support. A small committee has been formed around this restoration project, including in addition to the expertise of the C2RMF - Matthieu Gilles, Elisabeth Ravaud for the study report - ; and of the French Museums Service - Laetitia Barragué-Zouita-, specialists in the painting of the French primitives - Philippe Lorentz, University of Paris-Sorbonne, Sophie Caron, Louvre Museum, and François-René Martin, Les Beaux-Arts de Paris.