July 26, 2013

Here are some examples of French art in the 18th century in the Musée D'Orsay. Starting in 1725, the Paris Salon was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. From the 1850's or so and on, there was an art war on. The salon favoured classical art styles and strictly enforced what was acceptable and what was not. And what the salon wanted were themes from history, mythology or religion, with nudes only allowed in those contexts. Lots of little angels is good, and work should be created meticulously in the studio, such as the work of artists like Ingres, Bourgereau and Cabanel. Don't even think of going outdoors and painting scenery, or painting real people at work in the fields, or at home reading a book, or engaging in normal activities. Not elevated enough.

A group of painters - Monet, Renoir, Bazille, Sisley, Caillebotte, Degas, Morisot and others - had few of their works accepted by the salon because they weren't following the rules. They created their own art exhibition in 1874, and had seven in total with different artists showing their work at each one, adding Cézanne, Gauguin and others along the way. They were savaged by most art critics, primarily for their work not looking finished, but they started to gain a following as the century closed. The majority of the work on display at the museum is from the impressionists, their forerunners like Manet and Millet, and those that came after, such as Van Gogh and Seurat. But there has been a bit of a shift with the recent renovations, with more room for displaying the art. They've always displayed several Ingres paintings, but now there are more, and Bougereau, who had one painting the first time I visited in the 1990's, now has at least 9 that I saw this time. There's room for both, obviously - do you want to just listen to country and western music, with no pop, rock, rap or R&B (please say no)

Above: Bal du moulin de la Galette, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Above: The Birth of Venus, by William Adolphe Bougereau, president of the salon and on its selection committee for many years

Above: The Birth of Venus, by Alexandre Cabanel

Above: The Floor Planers, by Gustave Caillebotte

Above: Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers, by Edgar Degas

Above: Arearea, by Paul Gauguin

Above: The Source, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Above: The Gleaners, by Jean-Francois Millet

Above: The Angelus, by Jean-Francois Millet

Above: Olympia, by Edouard Manet

Above: Luncheon on the Grass, by Edouard Manet

Above: Poppy Fields, by Claude Monet

Above: Madame Charpentier and Her Children, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Above: Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh

Pages to Visit
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