Life and career
Quarton was born in the diocese of
Laon in northern France, but moved to
Provence in 1444, possibly after working in the Netherlands. There he worked in
Arles in 1446, and
Avignon, where he was based from 1447 until his death there in about 1466. Provence at this time had some of the most impressive painters in France, to judge by surviving work at any rate, with
Nicolas Froment and
Barthélemy d'Eyck, who both appear to have collaborated with Quarton; the North had
Jean Fouquet however. All were influenced by both Italy and the Netherlands to varying degrees. The
Anti-Popes were no longer living in Avignon, but it remained Papal territory, and the city contained many Italian merchants.
Except for some banners, no works by Quarton for
René of Anjou, the ruler of
most of Provence, are documented, although René was a keen patron of the arts who employed D'Eyck for many years and patronised several other artists. Many of Quarton's clients were important figures in René's court and administration, like the Chancellor of Provence who commissioned the Missal of Jean des Martins (BnF, Ms nouv. aq. Latin. 2661).
Although the influence of Quarton can be seen strongly in subsequent Provençal painting, and also in some works as far away as Germany and Italy, he was later almost wholly forgotten until the Coronation of the Virgin was exhibited in Paris in 1900, since when both awareness of his importance, and the number of works attributed to him, has steadily increased. The attribution to him of the Avignon Pietà has only been generally accepted since about the 1960s.