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Exhibitions - Archives

No Colour, Nothing but Nuance!

Trompe-l'oeil and grisailles from Rubens to Toulouse-Lautrec

Affiche de l'exposition
© Affiche de l'exposition "Pas la couleur, Rien que la Nuance !"

From 15th March to 15th June 2008

Car nous voulons la Nuance encor,
Pas la Couleur, rien que la nuance !
Oh ! la nuance seule fiance
Le rêve au rêve et la flûte au cor !

Paul VERLAINE (1844-1896)
(Extrait de l'Art Poétique - Recueil : Jadis et naguère)

No colour, nothing but nuance! The verse from Paul Verlaine perfectly captures this exhibit, which takes visitors through three centuries of fine art in search of a phenomenon long present in the arts but little known to the public: grisaille, also known as camaieu or monochrome. Through some sixty famous paintings by well-known artists (Rubens, Le Brun, Boucher, Greuze, Daumier, Carpeaux, Doré, Moreau, Toulouse-Lautrec) representing the principle European schools of painting, the exhibit spotlights this exquisite technique, an artistic cross between painting, drawing, and illusionism decor. Used for trompe-l'œil, sketches of great works, or free expression, depending on the era, this art gives the visitor an unexpected glimpse into the secret worlds of many great painters.

An exhibit with grisaille as its theme is quite novel, having only been seen in displays in Houston in 1973 and in Paris (Musée d'Art et d'Essai at the Palais de Tokyo) in 1980. It has certainly never been the subject of a published work: Our catalogue will be the first and only general work available on the matter, and purposely focuses on easel painting between the 16th and 19th centuries. The aim of this exceptional exhibit is to share the beauty of this form of painting, which was often meant for the artist's eyes only in the privacy of his studio. The diversity of technique and style is as pleasurable as it is informative and, above all, these spirited, powerful, and sensitive works will delight not only the eye, but the heart of any visitor.

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