French Masterpieces offers a sensual experience of brushstrokes and colours. The exhibition presents some of the Glyptotek’s most important works from the 19th century, when art moves from being idealised, with a wealth of detail, to the use of a more free, often experimental expression.
The French masterpieces all display technical brilliance, new motifs, combinations of colours and compositions. Each work is representative of the individual artist’s style and expression. They capture the artists’ aesthetic, heralding new ideas in art and stand out as unparalleled masterpieces. Here, then, are Monet, Rousseau, Courbet, Cézanne, Manet, van Gogh and Degas, at their best!
New Thinking and New Departures
The 19th century was epoch-making in French art. At the beginning of the century, the French art academy, the Académie des Beaux-Arts, and the annual Salon Exhibition, more or less determined the official art of the period. However, from the 1850s onwards there were new currents and ideas, and the changing political climate was of considerable significance for the circumstances in which art found itself. With the unofficial exhibition venues in the 1860s and the First Impressionist Exhibition in 1874, new possibilities for artists arose.
Various artistic ideals circled around each other at this time – sublime and idealised beauty, realism in the depiction of peasant life, the flickering of light and the significance of forms. Instead of a focus on stylistic development or artistic groupings and ”isms” the exhibition moves in close to the works’ actual creation and their significance, both in their era and for posterity. It is, therefore, technical accomplishment together with innovatory motifs and compositions, which bring these works together.
A New Acquisition
For the first time we are presenting The Rock Oak by Théodore Rousseau, which the Glyptotek has acquired through generous support from the Ny Carlsberg Foundation.
From the very start of Rousseau’s career, trees played a predominant main role, and The Rock Oak is one of the most colour-suffused intense paintings of the motif with its dense, dabbed brushstrokes. This painting of ancient, contorted oak trees standing amongst moss-covered rocks, was, in 1861, the only picture Rousseau submitted to the Salon.
Painting and Sculpture Hand in Hand
In the exhibition there is a smaller room dedicated to French sculpture. It displays a selection of statuettes and smaller sculpture from the 19th century’s most prominent sculptural artists, among them Barye, Rodin and Carpeaux. The works present a three-dimensional expression of the diversity which characterises the various stylistic expressions, motifs and materials – whether that means Daumier’s biting satire or Barye’s wild animals.