By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor
Gauvin Bailey (Art History) has been appointed to the prestigious Institut de France.
Dr. Bailey, the Alfred and Isabel Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art, was elected last month as a “correspondant-étranger” (foreign correspondent) of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (Humanities) of the Institut de France, one of the most-respected and oldest learned institutions in the world having been founded in 1663.
The Institut de France only maintains 50 French and 50 foreign correspondents at any one time, putting Dr. Bailey in exclusive company.
“This is a tremendous honour, not only for Dr. Bailey but for Queen’s as well,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “The Académie des inscriptions is among the world's oldest and most exclusive learned societies; for Dr. Bailey to be elected as a foreign correspondent is a strong recognition of the quality of our faculty here at Queen’s.”
Dr. Bailey is one of only six North American foreign correspondents.
“This is a huge and unexpected honour for me, particularly at this time in my career when I am working increasingly on French art and culture and its dissemination throughout the Americas,” Dr. Bailey says. “The Institut de France itself dates from the period I am working on and some of the architects and writers I have studied were members in their day.
“For me it is also a thrill for a more basic reason: its home, the former Collège des Quatre-Nations (built 1668-88) across from the Louvre, is one of my favourite Baroque buildings in Paris, but I have never been allowed inside because you have to be a member. Next time I go to Paris that will be my first stop.”
Dr. Bailey says he believes that his election is due in large part to his recent research into the migration of Baroque art and architecture through France into the Americas. While there has been extensive study into the flow of Baroque art forms through the Spanish and Portuguese New World empires, Dr. Bailey says that France’s role has largely been overlooked.
Dr. Bailey’s book on the subject The Spiritual Rococo: Décor and Divinity from the Salons of Paris to the Missions of Patagonia (Ashgate Press, 2014) will be released in September, which will be his seventh book published to date.
Dr. Bailey was named to the Royal Society of Canada in November, one of seven Queen’s professors to receive the honour in 2013. He took up his current position at Queen’s in 2011.