18th century - Historical Painting
Historical painting was the main genre from the Renaissance until the triumph of Impressionism. The museum's ‘salon blanc' allows the visitor to follow its development through the second half of the 18th century.
Jean-François de Troy, one of the most important figures in the history of French painting between 1730 and 1750, painted The Death of Creusa and The Capture of the Golden Fleece while he was the director of the Académie de France in Rome. Both are cartoons for a cycle of tapestries on this theme, drawn from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
With Coriolan chez les Volsques, Lagrenée painted one of the closest equivalents to Rococo painting in Italy. The exemplary nature of the story represented paved the way for the virtuous themes of neoclassical painting. After the discovery of the ruins of Pompei and Herculaneum, the whole of Europe had turned to the fashion for Antiquity. Pre-revolutionary democratic ideals rested on the acts of the heroes of Greek and Roman history.
The museum has some of the most famous French neoclassical works with Belisarius (an old Byzantine general, blind and poor, receives hospitality from one of his former soldiers) or Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi (a Roman mother considers her children to be her greatest treasure), two works by Peyron, one of David's great rivals. The sobriety and solemnity of the layout are highly representative of this school.
Contemporary history is not absent; the museum also has Roques' The Death of Marat, a revolutionary icon, although not as famous as David's version.
Jean Bernard RESTOUT (Paris, 1732 - Paris, 1797),
Diogène demandant l'aumône aux statues,
Inv. 2004 1 263
Photo : Daniel Martin