A Romantic @ Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is dedicating an exhibition to the romantic 19th century painter Charles Gleyre.

To date, France has never devoted a solo exhibition to the artist. Yet he was a major figure in academy painting in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. For a long time, given the smooth perfection of his facture and his subject matter, mostly taken from mythology, he was taken for a cold, conventional esthete blind to the revolutions of his time. However, research into the history of art draws attention to the important role played by his studio, which gave us artists like Jean-Léon Gérôme, Claude Monet and Fréderic Bazille. Also, fresh interpretations of his work, including first and foremost the psychoanalytical analysis published by Michel Thevoz in 1980, have uncovered the fascinating contradictions of both the artist and his work. Placed under the sign of spleen and the ideal, the exhibition is an opportunity, through the major loan from the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts in Lausanne, to delight once more in the illusions of academicism.

Most of the works presented are placed under the sign of spleen and the ideal. Gleyre was an impassioned Romantic and an intrepid traveller who then became an apostle of Beauty. His passion for the past inspired him prehistoric landscapes and this dyed-in-the-wool misogynist elevated the power of female creativity to new heights. Was he the last imitator of Neoclassicism, a repentant Romantic or a precursor of Symbolism?

Orphaned at the age of twelve and taken in by his uncle, a modest broker in Lyon, he was expected to turn his artistic talents to a career in manufacturing design in the textile business, but the young man set his sights on the higher art of painting. After studying drawing in Lyon, he began attending the Paris School of Fine Arts in 1825 and discovered a capital city in the grip of artistic ferment.

Despite enrolling at the studio of Louis Hersent, a conventional and a self-seeking flatterer painter, Gleyre displayed a distinctly Romantic temperament in love with freedom and excess. He copied Théodore Géricault and Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, tragic figures whose recent demise was a frequent subject of conversation in the studio.

Late closing on Thursdays (21:45).

Metro: Musée d'Orsay (RER)

Telephone: +33 1 40 49 48 14


€10 to €15


Date: May 10th to September 11th

Time: 9:30 to 18:00

Closed on:

Monday Am - Monday Pm

Preferred time

Website: www.musee-orsay.fr

Address: 1, Rue de la Légion d'Honneur - 75007 - Paris



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