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Masterpieces from the Rennes Museum of Fine Arts

Initially stocked with works confiscated by the revolutionaries of 1794 in the buildings of the city of Rennes, the Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes has very eclectic collections, since they concern as much paintings and sculptures as archaeological objects from the Greek and Egyptian antiquity, among others.

At the beginning of April 2024, it hosted the general assembly of the French Federation of Friends of Museums. I therefore took advantage of this opportunity to offer you an anthology of the works that I appreciated the most. On the way to the visit...

Gerrit van Honthorst. Le reniement de Saint Pierre. Vers 1615. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes
Gerrit van Honthorst. Le reniement de Saint Pierre. Vers 1615. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes

Unlike most of the "denials" of Saint-Pierre, notably those painted by Valentin de Boulogne or Nicolas Tournier, one of the two denials painted by Gerrit van Honthorst (1592-1656) represents card players instead of dice, perhaps to symbolize cheating. The central character grabs Saint Peter's toga while the servant seems to indicate that she has recognized him. The light, extremely elaborate in the image of Georges de la Tour, himself a contemporary of the Dutch painter, is provided by two smoky candles.

Anonymle. Bal à la cour des Valois. Vers 1580. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes
Anonyme. Bal à la cour des Valois. Vers 1580. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes

This painting is one of the largest in the cabinet of curiosities of Christophe Paul de Robien (1698-1756), all of whose elements are in the museum. Its author, anonymous, represents a ball at the court of the Valois, probably during the reign of Henry III. The central couple performs a volta movement, a 3-beat rotating dance in which the rider lifts his partner by placing her on his thigh while turning around (I have not personally tried...)

Jean-Baptiste Greuze. Tête de Jeune fille au ruban bleu. 1777. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes
Jean-Baptiste Greuze. Tête de Jeune fille au ruban bleu. 1777. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes

Innocent young girls were one of the favorite themes of Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805). She seems plunged into an abyss of perplexity. Her red hair held by a blue ribbon frames features on which the light falls like a velvet sheet.

Gustave Caillebotte. Les périssoires. 1878. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes
Gustave Caillebotte. Les périssoires. 1878. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes

This painting by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894) symbolizes his taste for boating and later, regattas and shipbuilding. In 1878, he and his brother Martial found themselves orphans, the death of their mother Céleste closing a series with the death of their father Martial in 1874 and that of their brother René in 1876. While their half-brother Alfred entered the orders , Gustave and Martial sold the family properties and moved together into a large apartment on Boulevard Haussmann.

Paul Gauguin. Vase de fleurs. 1880. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes
Paul Gauguin. Vase de fleurs. 1880. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was 32 years old when he painted this painting, in slight backlight provided by the window and its wrought iron balcony. Almost no shadow disturbs the light which streams on the tablecloth where a book rests, perhaps evoking the siesta of a summer afternoon...

Maurice Denis. Le Yacht échoué à Trégastel. 1938. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes
Maurice Denis. Le Yacht échoué à Trégastel. 1938. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes

In 1908, Maurice Denis (1870-1943) bought a villa near the town of Perros-Guirec. Among his favorite themes, swimming, the maneuvers of sailors on their sailboat, the horizon barred with pink granite rocks and the sparkling sea....

Charles Cottet. Femmes de Plougastel au pardon de Sainte Anne la Palud. 1903. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes
Charles Cottet. Femmes de Plougastel au pardon de Sainte Anne la Palud. 1903. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes

Briton by adoption, Charles Cottet (1863-1925) studied at the Julian Academy before staying regularly in Camaret-sur-Mer, on the Crozon peninsula. He will paint villagers, like these women in headdresses enjoying a frugal meal of bread, apples and cider. In the background, we see the forgiveness festivities with the crowds rushing around and the tents pitched to the right of the canvas.


In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the 19th century in France...


Les conférences de Fabrice Roy
Les articles de Fabrice Roy


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