French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour

Volupte du Gout Voluptuous TasteWhile browsing the shelves of my favorite bookstore, I was so smitten by this book, titled La volupté du goût (“Voluptuous Taste”) by Philippe Le Leyzour and Penelope Hunter-Stiebel, that I purchased it on impulse, something I almost never do.

It explores the role played by Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV’s most influential mistress and a woman of great culture and intellect, as informal minister of the arts. The pictures are gorgeous and the text fascinating. Boucher, Chardin, Nattier, Van Loo, Fragonard, Hubert Robert, Vernet… I was swept off my feet.

A while later, when I came homeand to my senses, and plunged deeper into the book, I realized that this is in fact the catalog of a current exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Tours. Now the neatthing is that I will spend the holidays with my family at the home ofmy aunt and uncle, who live in… Tours, in the beautiful Loire Valley. Needless to say, thisexhibition is on my must-see list, along of course with the nearby Château de Chenonceau.

And the other neat thing is that the exhibit will move afterwards to the Portland Art Museum, which co-curated the show. This means that not only some of my American friends will be able to see it as well, but also that the book should be translated into English shortly.

On a more general note, I discovered that both the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Tours and the Portland Art Museum belong to an association called FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange) which regroups French provincial museums and their American counterparts. This makes shows of this caliber possible outside the confines of Paris and provides them with an American audience. Nice…

Musée des Beaux-Arts of Tours, until January 12, 2009
Portland Art Museum, from February 7 through May 17, 2009

Boucher Confidences pastorales

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