by Dominique Hervier and Eva Renzulli, History Committee of the Ministry of Culture, La Documentation française, 2020, 455 p.

How to make discover to the new generations this historian of the exceptional art that was André Chastel? Thanks to the voices of some twenty witnesses, readers can enjoy a lively and contrasting portrait of this champion of French heritage. Their memories, their sometimes harsh judgments, were collected for the History Committee and confronted with its own confidences, with the correspondence it had with scholars from all over the world. These testimonies, together with the consultation of often unpublished written archives, are a fine demonstration of the relevance of sound archives used with method by the History Committee for more than twenty years to establish the history of those who have contributed to the life of the Ministry of Culture.

André Chastel, who spoke to André Malraux and Jack Lang, was a recognized authority in both the Historical Monuments and the Safeguarded Sectors. He showed himself by his desire for innovation in this period of the Glorious Thirty, during which it was enough to want to do, as Florence Descamps points out.

With his strong personality as a journalist in Le Monde, as a professor at the Sorbonne and the Collège de France, André Chastel was the inventor of the General Inventory of Monuments and Artistic Riches of France, the animator of many professional associations. It has thus enabled the history of art to emerge from a period of stagnation – so well described by Pierre Vaisse as a prologue to this work – and to conquer a life full of erudition and literature.

Dominique Hervier, art historian, is honorary general curator of Heritage and former student of André Chastel

Eva Renzulli, PhD in Art History, is a lecturer at the École pratique des hautes études

with the participation of Sébastien Chauffour, Sophie Derrot, Florence Descamps, Pierre Vaisse.