What had been a steady exchange of influences and artists between France and Italy accelerated dramatically in the wake of the French military campaigns in Italy, beginning in 1494. The impetus came from the king and also from the soldiers and administrators whom he enlisted to govern and negotiate with occupied territories—Naples, Milan, and Genoa—and allies, especially Florence. Florimond Robertet and Pierre de Rohan (the Marshal de Gyé) competed to acquire prestigious works by the most renowned Italian artists, among them Michelangelo. As governor of Milan, Charles d'Amboise, lord of Chaumont, was a key intermediary for the importation of Milanese artists and works into France, particularly in connection with his uncle Cardinal Georges d'Amboise's ambitious project for his country residence at Gaillon. While retaining Gaillon's original Gothic structure, the cardinal expanded and modernized this fortress overlooking the Seine in Normandy, adding gardens, arcades, and fountains with decorations in an antique vocabulary. The château's exquisite chapel on two levels was furnished in unparalleled richness with frescoes by Andrea Solario, a marble altarpiece by Michel Colombe, life-size polychromed terracotta figures of Christ and the Apostles by Antonio di Giusto Betti, and a choir enclosure that combined Gothic and antique ornament. Renowned in its day, this monument was pillaged during the French Revolution. Elements of its decor were retrieved by Alexandre Lenoir for his Musée des monuments français in Paris, and the finest of these pieces subsequently entered the Musée du Louvre in 1818, after the restoration of the monarchy.
Lorenzo da Muzzano. Louis XII, Milan, 1508. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Department of Sculpture, MR 1596 A.