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Exhibition guide

Sections 1 and 2

Pietro Bellotti (Volciano, 1625-Gargnano del Garda, 1700), Un vieux chanteur, H.s.t. ; H. 0,72 ; L. 0,54. Courtesy galerie Canesso, Paris
© Pietro Bellotti (Volciano, 1625-Gargnano del Garda, 1700), Un vieux chanteur, H.s.t. ; H. 0,72 ; L. 0,54. Courtesy galerie Canesso, Paris

Playing with the Gaze and Musicians.

Section 1 - Playing with the Gaze

For a painter who wants to capture the human soul, the gaze is essential. The portrait artist, commissioned to capture physical resemblance, may be obliged to weaken the intensity of the gaze in order to respect convention. The painter of fantasy figures does not worry about these rules. He tries to represent the personality above all, because he won't be judged on the result by the model..

Unlike the subsequent sections, this one called In the eye of the gaze [Playing with the Gaze] is presented chronologically, so that the visitor can follow the evolution of this type of representation from the early 16th century to the end of the 18th century, where the characters seem aware of the viewer's presence and actively invite it.  

These characters are like actors who address the audience with seduction, aggression, self-assurance or humility. We think you won't forget their gazes.


Section 2 - Musicians

The representation of music has an important place in the history of fantasy figures, notably among Caravaggio and his followers. Music opens up an area conducive to the imagination and offers the possibility to experience a large variety of styles and nuances.

Sometimes, painters choose an ideal representation of the musician. Some present figures where the musician neglects his instrument to lose himself in a melancholic daydream, like with Mercier. Others seek the spectator's complicity, like with Maggiotto.

The theme can, on the other hand, be an opportunity to make studies of solo musicians. In these portraits of professional artists, the paintings are beset with realistic details. The musical scores of Bellotti or the puffed cheeks of Strozzi impart an effect of reality on the compositions.

In all events, the pose of the musician offers in each of its variations a direct perception of his state of mind, whether he is aware of his audience or absorbed in his art. From the outward-looking representation of the musical performance to depictions of inwardness or withdrawal, fantasy figures capture the poetic and emotional effects of music as much as the physical reality of the musicians' playing..

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