Emma Capron - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Emma Capron

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Emma Capron

PhD student

Thesis: ‘Patronage, Function and Reception of Paintings in Fifteenth-Century Avignon’

Supervised by Prof. Susie Nash

Funded by Arts & Humanities Research Council

By the mid-fifteenth century, Avignon was no longer the seat of the papacy. Nevertheless, it witnessed a period of intense artistic activity characterised by the production of monumental panel paintings of religious and liturgical nature. Crisp in design, bright in colour, and bathed in sharp Southern light, they ranged from Enguerrand Quarton’s poignant Villeneuve-lès-Avignon Pietà to Nicolas Froment’s stately Burning Bush altarpiece. This stylistically consistent and idiosyncratic group later became known as the ‘Avignon School’. Scholarship on the subject has traditionally focused mainly on attributional issues, relying on connoisseurship.

My doctoral research complicates and enriches previous analysis by investigating these panels in their historical context, laying the foundations for a ‘social history’ of the Avignon School. Notably, I reassess the role of patrons and their networks in shaping the form and imagery of these objects, as well as the intended functions and audiences for these images.

This contextual approach provides an extremely fertile field of research, that emphasizes fifteenth-century Avignon’s role as an economic and cultural crossroad for both patrons, mostly originating from Italy, and artists, in large part trained in the early Netherlandish tradition. Methods include the recovery and transcription of overlooked archival documents, combined with in-depth examination of the social, devotional, and visual environment in which these panels were produced and operated. The evidence is organised around a series of case studies that allow for patterns of patronage to come to light. Special consideration is given to the Italian patrons of Nicolas Froment, especially the patronage Peruzzi family, banished from Florence by the Medici in 1434 and settled in Avignon in 1445. Concepts of exile, mobility, and the reformulation through images of dislocated identity emerge as central themes of this inquiry.


  • 2013- Present: Courtauld Institute of Art, PhD in the History of Art
  • 2010-2011: Courtauld Institute of Art, MA in the History of Art, Distinction
    • Subject: Northern Renaissance Art, under the supervision Professor Susie Nash
    • Thesis: ‘Une fontaine aux mystiques sanglots’. The Anonymous Fountain of Blood in the Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon: A Study in Artistic Practices, Devotional Interests and Iconographical Exchanges in Fifteenth-Century France’
    • Courtauld Prize for Best Dissertation
  • 2007-2009: Université Charles de Gaulle-Lille 3, BA in Art History (long distance classes), Summa Cum Laude.
  • 2006-2007: Tufts University, Boston, Exchange Year, Art History and Museum Studies
  • 2004-2009: Sciences Po Paris, BA & MA in Political Science, Cum Laude


Research interests

  • Avignon School
  • Early French Painting
  • Patronage
  • Nicolas Froment
  • Migration of patrons and artists
  • Exile
  • Late Medieval Panel Painting
  • Conference papers and lectures
  • Fall 2015: Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon ‘A la mya devota sancta croche’: Le retable des Pérussis en contexte
  •  February 2015: Institut français de Londres, VIEW Festival of Art History ‘The Virgin Queen and the lonely bride: Women, marriage and identity from Elizabeth I to Niki de Saint Phalle’
  •  Spring 2014: Lille-Leuven-London Conference ‘The Pérussis Altarpiece: The Politics of Patronage in Fifteenth-Century Avignon’
  •  Spring 2012: The Courtauld Renaissance Symposium ‘Veuillez avoir les Florentins en amour’ Recontextualizing the Pérussis Altarpiece: The Political Portrayal of a Florentine Family Caught in the Turmoil of Fifteenth- Century Avignon

Recent publications

  • ‘School of Nicolas Froment, A donor introduced by Saint Peter’, catalogue entry in, Susie Nash (ed.), Late Medieval Panel Paintings: Materials, Methods, Meanings, London, 2011.

Other academic activity

  • 2014-2015: Research Forum Associate Scholar
  • Summer 2014: Columbia University, Paleography Summer School Professor Marc Smith (Ecole des Chartes) & Professor Pamela Smith (Columbia University)
  • 2013-14: Institute of Historical Research, Paleography classes, under Dr Jenny Stratford
  • 2013-14: Material Witness Workshop Participant (CHASE): The Interrogation of Physical Objects for Humanities Researchers
  • 2011-2014: Christie’s London, Old Master Paintings, Researcher.

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