Friday, October 28, 2016

The Spectacular Second Empire 1852 – 1870

Musée d'Orsay
27 September 2016 - 16 January 2017

Jean - Auguste - Dominique Ingres, Madame Moitessier, 1856, oil on canvas, 120 x 92.1 cm © The National Gallery, London, Dist. RMN - Grand Palais / National Gallery Photographic  Department  

 The  ostentation of  the “ fête impériale ” and France’s humiliating defeat in 1870  by Prussia, have long tarnished the  reputation of the Second Empire, suspected of having been a time purely of  amusements,  scandals and vices, as  described by  Zola  in his novels written during the Third Republic.  

James Tissot (1836-1902), Le Cercle de la Rue Royale, 1868, Huile sur toile, Paris, musée d'Orsay, © Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt 

A place of official recognition and of scandal, the Painting and Sculpture  Salon was both an aesthetic battle ground and a huge market for the new middle class who flocked there in great  numbers. In 1863 Napoleon III, confronted by the protests of artists rejected by the  jury, created a “Salon des  Refusé s” alongside the official Salon, an act of significant liberalisation.  

Napoleón III

 With  paintings hung at several different levels, as was customary in the 19th century, the exhibition demonstrates the startling difference between the two Salons with   

Cabanel’s Birth of Venus 

and Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass.   
During the  1855 and 1867  Universal Exhibitions in  Paris  the  Empire shone brightly .  Here  the  excellence  of the French art industry and the unbridled eclecticism of the  sources of  inspiration  to which the creators turned were affirmed .  The  exhibition presents beautiful objects produced by the Imperial M anufacture  of Sèvres,  cabinetmakers  Fourdinois  and Diehl,  goldsmiths Christofle  and Froment - Meurice and the bronze founder Barbedienne.  

 Publication – Museum catalogue,  joint publication Musée d’Orsay / Skira, hardback , approx.  320 pages,