Exhibition | British Stories

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 21, 2021

Johan Zoffany, The Triumph of Venus (Vénus sur les eaux), ca. 1760, oil on canvas
(Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux). More information is available here.

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This summer the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, as part of ‘A British Year at the Museum’, presents two exhibitions: British Stories and Absolutely Bizarre! Strange Tales from the Bristol School of Artists, 1800–1840.

British Stories
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, 19 May — 19 September 2021

Organized by Sophie Barthélémy, Sandra Buratti-Hasan, and Guillaume Faroult

The British art collections held by the Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts form a coherent corpus of thirty paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures. This exhibition is an occasion to admire them all and compare them with works loaned by the Louvre.

Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Francis George Hare (1786–1842), ‘Master Hare’, ca. 1788–89, oil on canvas (Paris: Musée du Louvre, RF 1580).

A significant portion of the exhibition is dedicated to portraiture, a genre in which British painters excelled. In the 17th century, Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck was invited to stay at the Court of Charles I of England during the last decade of his career, a period that was a pivotal moment in the development of European portrait art whose conventions van Dyck reinvented (modello of the Double Portrait of the Palatinate Princes Charles Louis I and Prince Rupert, Museum of Fine Arts, Bordeaux). Among his most famous heirs we can mention Sir Joshua Reynolds, represented by his celebrated ‘Master Hare’ (Louvre) and his Portrait of Richard Robinson, Archbishop of Armagh (Museum of Fine Arts, Bordeaux). This survey of British portraiture culminates with the Portrait of John Hunter by Sir Thomas Lawrence (Museum of Fine Arts, Bordeaux).

In the history painting genre, the exhibition gives a special place to artists under-represented in French public collections, namely James Ward, with his superb Baptism of Christ (Louvre), Benjamin West (Phaeton Asking Apollo to Drive the Sun Chariot, Louvre), and Johan Zoffany (The Triumph of Venus and Venus and Adonis, Museum of Fine Arts, Bordeaux). The typically British genre, the conversation piece, is also represented, along with landscape, the latter dominated by the dramatic canvas by John Martin of Macbeth and the Three Witches (Museum of Fine Arts, Bordeaux).

The Museum of Fine Arts and its close partner the Louvre look forward to taking viewers on a fascinating journey of paintings from across the Channel, on an itinerary through the most significant works of art by generations of innovative, inquisitive, and daring artists.

Sandra Buratti-Hasan and Guillaume Faroult, British Stories: Conversations entre le musée du Louvre et des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux (Paris: Snoeck Édition, 2021), 32 pages, ISBN: 978-9461616302, 10€.

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