Exhibitions - archives
Nicolas Tournier (1590-1639)
From 29th March 2001 to 1st July 2001
With the Nicolas Tournier exhibition, Toulouse not only pays homage to one of the players in the European Caravaggesque movement but also to one of the city's greatest artists. From Caravaggio, Tournier borrowed a sense of grandeur, a true monumentality and a theatrical light that reveals or obscures at will.
Tournier added a specifically French distinction and restraint to his paintings and a poetic atmosphere of a universe suspended in time. A painter of discrete emotion, Tournier treated concert scenes, banquets and gaming scenes as well as religious episodes with the same quiet reserve. After his instruction period, most probably from 1619, Tournier evolved in a milieu of French artists in Rome until 1626. In the latter part of his life, he settled in Languedoc, between Narbonne, Montpellier and Toulouse, where he died in 1639.
No French Caravaggesque painter has yet been the subject of a monographic exhibition, except Georges de La Tour. The task of presenting this exhibition is thus down to the Musée des Augustins, where the most beautiful ensemble of his paintings is housed. With a very few exceptions, the entire corpus of the artist's work has been assembled here along with works that are still in question as to their authorship. The exhibition assembles about forty paintings from the United States, Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Poland and France. It has been preceded by an intensive scientific programme of research. Six paintings have been restored for the occasion. Scientific photographs have enabled us to discover new elements concerning the techniques used by the artist and even brought to light underlying compositions. A mislaid painting has also been found. The Tournier presented in this exhibition is, then, an artist revisited in a new and original light.