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"The Colours of the Sea"
1999-11-06 until 2000-01-16
Musee d'Orsay
Paris, , FR France

The manner in which the nineteenth century invented tourism, in particular to the seaside, at the very time when the taste for landscapes was fast developping and diversifying, is now well-known. Coasts in Normandy and Britanny, scenes on the beach or in holiday resorts, Mediterrannean ports and its light and seaside sites all provided Courbet, Boudin, Monet, Signac and Cézanne with new motifs.

The Musée d'Orsay organises an exhibition entitled The Colours of the Sea with Thalassa, le magazine de la mer, a weekly television programme with a maritime theme on France 3. The exhibition aims at showing the importance of the sea in painting, watercolour and pastels, photography, and the invention, so to speak, of sites, marine landscapes on the coasts of Normandy and Brittany, of the Atlantic and of the Mediterranean. The whole is composed from the Musée d'Orsay collections, with a few important loans granted by Parisian and provincial museums.

This exhibition targets a public of amateurs with a passion for the sea. Through the paintings on display, it offers a poetical and fantastic transcription of the sea, interpreted differently according to each artist's temperament, from the realistic observation of Eugène Boudin or Claude Monet, the singular visions of Georges Lacombe or Emile Bernard, to the diffraction of light and the saturated colours of the neo-impressionists, Paul Signac and Henri-Edmond Cross.

At the same time, the sea was omnipresent in Victor Hugo's work (The Toilers of the Sea, 1866), and then was a source of inspiration for Claude Debussy, who came to Pourville to observe the Channel and who composed The Sea, and also Maurice Ravel and Ernest Chausson for his Poem of Love and the Sea.


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