Thursday, November 30, 2017

Praised & Ridiculed French Painting 1820–1880



10 Nov. 2017–28 Jan. 2018

‘In’ one day, ‘out’ the next: even in the 19th century, fashion was fickle. Romanticism, Realism and Impressionism were competing currents within French painting that were hailed by a small group of enthusiasts but dismissed by most critics. 


The exhibition focuses on the years between 1820 and 1880. 1822 saw Delacroix’s first appearance at the Salon, the official exhibition platform for artists, at which he issued a challenge to Ingres and his fellow neoclassicists; 1880 marked the end of the Salon as a government-sponsored event. During this period Géricault, Corot, Daumier, Daubigny, Courbet, Manet, Pissarro and Monet also abandoned the approved academic and neoclassicist painting style of the era. Highly controversial in their lifetime, these artists are now celebrated worldwide as the ‘precursors of Modernism’.

Yet 19th-century French painting offers a profusion of other equally important artists who, at the time, enjoyed greater recognition and the plaudits of art critics and audiences alike. Although indebted to traditional painting techniques, artists such as Delaroche, Couture, Meissonier, Cabanel, Gérôme and Bouguereau were themselves highly innovative. In the canon of French painting from that period laid down in the German-speaking countries at the start of the 20th century, however, these outstanding figures came to be sidelined. Now the Kunsthaus sets out to rediscover them.

The exhibition catalogue ( 248 pp., 210 ill.), with contributions by Oskar Bätschmann, Sandra Gianfreda, Marianne Koos, Matthias Krüger, Monika Leonhardt and James H. Rubin, is published by Hirmer Verlag, Munich.
In addition to a detailed introduction and brief biographies of the artists, it contains essays on the art system of the time, history painting, the reception of Chardin in still-life painting, and landscape painting.



Ernest Meissonier

Campaign of France, 1814, 1864, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, bequest of Alfred Chauchard, 1909

Henri Fantin-Latour

White Roses and Peaches, 1873, Foundation E. G. Bührle Collection, Zurich

Camille Corot

Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld, 1861, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by the Agnes Cullen Arnold Endowment Fund, 87.190

Gustave Courbet

The Source, 1862, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929

Edouard Manet

The Swallows, 1873, Foundation E. G. Bührle Collection, Zurich

Camille Pissarro

Banks of the Oise, Pontoise, 1877, Kunsthaus Zürich, Johanna and Walter L. Wolf Collection, 1984