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"FROM THE SUN KING TO THE ROYAL TWILIGHT: PAINTING IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE FROM THE MUSEE DE PICARDIE, AMIENS"
2000-11-17 until 2001-01-14
Frick Art and Historical Center
Pittsburgh, PA, USA United States of America

This exhibition comprises works by well-known masters, such as Francois Boucher, Jean-Simeon Chardin, and Jean-Honore Fragonard, and less famous yet important artists, such as Louis Aubert, Jean-Baptiste Pater, and Jean Restout. The exhibition, on view at The Frick Art Museum through January 14, 2001, is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Musee de Picardie, Amiens. Guest curator is Matthieu Pinette, directeur des Musees d’Amiens.

DeCourcy McIntosh, executive director of the Frick Art & Historical Center, says, “This exhibition provides a powerful antidote to the commonly held view of eighteenth-century French painting as being concerned primarily with sensualism and frivolity. From the enormous Chasses Exotiques commissioned for the Chateau of Versailles, many of which are displayed in their original frames, to the intimate and moving works by Chardin commissioned or purchased by members of the upper bourgeoisie, the works on view illuminate the vast diversity of art produced during this period, and make FROM THE SUN KING TO THE ROYAL TWILIGHT an exceptionally rich and rewarding exhibition.” The paintings in the exhibition both highlight trends in French painting of the eighteenth century and open a window onto an era that witnessed some of history’s greatest social, intellectual, philosophical, and economic upheavals. These dramatic changes in French society are reflected not only in the move away from grandiose history painting, intended to glorify the monarch, toward an intimate rendering of both historical and contemporary subjects, but also in the shift in patronage, which was transformed from an exclusively royal activity to one participated in by the emerging bourgeoisie.

On the occasion of the exhibition, The Frick Art Museum is reinstalling its own outstanding collection of eighteenth-century French paintings in a separate gallery, including works by some of the same artists on view from the Amiens collection: François Boucher, Hubert Robert, Jean-Marc Nattier, Nicholas Lancret and Jean-Baptiste Pater. Visitors will thus be able to see the Frick’s permanent collection of eighteenth-century paintings and pastels in the context of the collection from Amiens.

Henry Clay Frick’s, and his daughter Helen’s, sensitive taste for collecting works of art from this period resulted in their assembling an important collection of French paintings in Pittsburgh. The sensitively drawn Portrait of Charles-Marie de la Condamine by Maurice Quentin de Latour (1704-1788), for example, offers an additional point of reference for seeing portrait development in the eighteenth century. Hubert Robert’s (1733-1808) Adoration of the Magi communicates the eighteenth-century artist’s predilection for picturesque and imaginary views of the landscape containing classical ruins. Boucher’s (1703-1770) sensual Pastorale: A Peasant Boy Fishing presents a bucolic counterpoint to his painting The Leopard Hunt from Amiens.

FROM THE SUN KING TO THE ROYAL TWILIGHT is presented in three chronological sections, corresponding to the reigns of Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715), Louis XV (r. 1715–74), and Louis XVI (r. 1774–92). In addition to the works from Amiens, each section is introduced by a grand portrait of the ruling sovereign, on loan from the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Orléans.


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