The Glyptotek’s collection of French art from 1800-1870 features not only a selection of major paintings and sculptures, but also a number of minor works and sketches that provide us with a revealing insight into the artists’ technical experiments. This was a period of new trends in art and there was an ever-growing interest in sketches, plein air painting and new ways of portraying people, nature and the city. The collection features works by the likes of Camille Corot, Théodore Rousseau, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet.
The examples of experimentation in the field of landscape painting constitute a particular highlight of the collection. In the 1820s, artists began to move away from copying and depicting idealised nature, embarking instead on a more realistic path in their desire to experience and feel nature. While, in the small studies he painted in the great outdoors, Camille Corot aimed at capturing the effects of light and atmosphere, the painters of the Barbizon school, including Théodore Rousseau and Narcisse-Virgilio Díaz de la Peña, took to the pristine landscapes of the Forest of Fontainebleau. As a result of these innovations, landscape became an independent subject, no longer subordinate to history painting.
This was a period of political upheavals in France with a variety of power brokers and three revolutions. This was reflected in the art of the time. There were conflicts between the more academic art tradition and the desire that art should be all about portraying reality with more precision. These different approaches did not oust one another, but existed in parallel, and various artistic ideals darted this way and that. The works in the collection display a huge variety in terms of style, motif and format. Whatever their artistic ideals, the artists commanded great technical expertise and approached their work radically – either within the common framework or with the express purpose of shattering it.
The Academy and the Salon
The political and cultural context was crucial to art. The works of the sculptor, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux reflect this close association between art and imperial power. The French academy of fine arts, L’Académie des Beaux-Arts was also pivotal when it came to an artist’s career and the evolution of art. A place in the Academy enabled an artist to send their works to the annual art exhibition, Le Salon (The Salon) – Europe’s major art event. The artists who were later regarded as the forerunners of Impressionism, such as Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet, were opposed to the academic traditions.
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Enjoy a delicious lunch at "Picnic" overlooking the Glyptotek's beautiful Winter Garden.
’Auguste Rodin – Displacements’ provides an insight into how Rodin incorporated his own collection of antiquities into his working process.