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The wonders of the Valence museum...

The Museum of Valence, art and archeology, is located in the historic center of old Valence. rich in more than 20,000 works, it offers the visitor a unique journey through the ages, from prehistory to contemporary art. It has been located since 1911 in the former episcopal palace which retains many traces of its centuries-old history: fortified episcopal tower from the 12th century, ogival gallery, painted ceilings from the 15th and 17th centuries...

Let's discover together some nuggets of the 19th century preserved within its walls. For the landscapes, the works of sometimes unknown artists like Jules Noël, Jean-Antoine Fort or Stanislas Lepine. For the portrait, the beautiful study of a woman by Alfred Stevens...

Jules Noël, Paysage maritime en Bretagne, 1877 © Musée de Valence, photographie Béatrice Roussel
Jules Noël, Paysage maritime en Bretagne, 1877 © Musée de Valence, photographie Béatrice Roussel

The life of Jules Noël (1810-1881) is a great geographical gap. Born in Nancy, he spent his youth in Quimper, lived in Paris where he taught drawing at the Lycée Henri IV before dying in Algiers. His originally romantic style gradually takes on a naturalistic turn in the use of quick strokes in contrasting colors, where he achieves the feat of representing a multitude of details.

Jean-Antoine Siméon Fort, Coucher de soleil, environs de Meaux, 19ème s. © Musée de Valence, photographie Philippe Petiot
Jean-Antoine Siméon Fort, Coucher de soleil, environs de Meaux © Musée de Valence, photographie Philippe Petiot

A talented watercolourist, Jean-Antoine Siméon Fort (1793-1861) was born in Valence. He received from king Louis-Philippe several orders for the galleries of Versailles. He travels a lot in Europe, North Africa and especially in France, where he used to walk the roads in order to capture the patterns of many sites, such as Dauphiné, Franche-Comté or the forest of Fontainebleau. .

Camille Corot, Mantes, le soir, La cathédrale de Mantes, vers 1860-1865. © MBA Reims-C. Devleeschauwer
Stanislas Lépine - Seine a Villequier ©Musée de Valence, photo Éric Caillet

Stanislas Lépine (1835-1892) was a discreet painter who, however, was part of the impressionist adventure of the first exhibition in 1874. The influence of Corot on his style is obvious, as the following table shows. For many years, he had only modest success, producing numerous views of Paris, presenting his paintings to the jury of the Salon when he was not putting them up for sale at the Hôtel Drouot. It is difficult to date his paintings because his style has changed little over the course of his career. In 1906, on the occasion of a new Lépine exhibition, Paul Jamot declared: "The modest and sincere Lépine must occupy a privileged place between Corot and Jongkind".

Pêcheur majorquin, 1908, huile sur toile, Collection privée
Jean-Baptiste Corot. Paysage de rivière. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Franck Raux

The same neutral and posed tones in this painting by Jean-Baptiste Corot, in which the river occupies only a fragment of its surface, leaving the foreground to a wet meadow on which a group of walkers have stopped to pick some flowers. A fibrous sky lets in some light on what appears to be a late afternoon.

Alfred Stevens, Étude de femme, 19ème s. © Musée de Valence, photographie Béatrice Roussel
Alfred Stevens, Étude de femme, 19ème s. © Musée de Valence, photographie Béatrice Roussel

Alfred Stevens (1823-1906) is the most Parisian of Belgian painters. A friend of Édouard Manet, Aurélien Scholl and Charles Baudelaire, he was a regular at the Guerbois café and frequented all the future Impressionists (Degas would be his daughter's godfather). Many of Stevens' paintings represent the contemporary woman to whom he brings a broad, embossed touch, with patches of white and pink marbled with green and yellow that caused Baudelaire to write: "We haven't rented enough at Stevens the distinguished and bizarre harmony of the whole".


4 Place des Ormeaux

26000 Valence

Tél : 04 75 79 20 80


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



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