Posts Tagged 'French'

Bastille Day at the DMA

Today is France’s national holiday, what we Americans like to refer to as Bastille Day. The date marks the storming of the Bastille in 1789, an event which ignited the French Revolution. Much like our July 4th, the holiday is a day to celebrate national pride in France with food, music, and fireworks. Here in Dallas, you can join in the celebration and commemorate our city’s own French connection at Bastille on Bishop.

But before you head to Oak Cliff this evening, stop by the DMA–we’ve got a few revolutionary works of our own on view in our European galleries on Level 2.

Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, The Harp Lesson, 1791,Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund

Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust, The Harp Lesson, 1791, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund

This grand new acquisition is a portrait of Louise Marie Adelaïde Eugénie d’Orléans, daughter of Louis Philippe Joseph d’Orléans. Although the Duke of Orléans was one of the wealthiest French aristocrats and cousin to King Louis XVI, he desired a more democratic government and supported the ideals of the French Revolution. Unfortunately, however, the Duke was not able to escape the Terror, the most violent period of the French Revolution, and met his fate at the guillotine in 1793.

Jean-baptiste Greuze, Portrait of Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, early 1790s, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift

Jean-baptiste Greuze, Portrait of Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, early 1790s, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift

Jean-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne rose to power during the French Revolution, becoming a member of the governing body that oversaw the new republic. He was an active participant in the Terror, the violent time when thousands who were considered enemies of the new state–including the Duke of Orléans–were executed by guillotine.

Pierre Nicolas Legrand,  A Good Deed is Never Forgotten, 1794-1795, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund

Pierre Nicolas Legrand, A Good Deed is Never Forgotten, 1794-1795, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund

This painting shows Monsieur George, an aristocrat imprisoned during the Terror and subsequently released, gratefully greeting his former prison guard. Monsieur George has returned to the prison with his wife and servant to thank the guard, who had generously provided financial support to the family during his imprisonment. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, indeed!

Joyeux Le Quatorze Juillet!

Sarah Coffey
Education Coordinator

Pulling At Our Heart Strings

When a Museum acquires a new work of art, it can be a very quick process or it can take months—or sometimes years! The latter was the case with The Harp Lesson, a monumental triple portrait by the French neoclassical painter Jean Antoine Théodore Giroust (1753–1817).

We first became aware of the painting’s availability in 2010, but the circumstances to purchase it were not quite right. When it came up for auction at Christie’s Old Masters sale in New York on January 28 of this year, we were ready to spring into action. So Olivier Meslay, the DMA’s Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, headed to New York, hoping that the weatherman’s forecast for twelve to eighteen inches of snow there would not thwart our chance to bid on the painting. The morning of the auction, several of us excitedly watched the sale live online from our offices in Dallas. The bidding went quite fast; it seemed to be over in the blink of an eye! Then, after the auctioneer said “sold!” with a thwack of his hammer, we had to endure several anxious minutes before we learned that the DMA was the high bidder.

This month, the monumental painting went on view in the European Galleries. Including the frame, it measures just shy of ten feet tall. While installing it was no minor undertaking, these pictures are proof that no challenge is too insurmountable for the DMA’s expert art preparators!

Completed in 1791, this large triple portrait depicts the fourteen-year-old Louise Marie Adelaïde Eugénie d’Orléans (1777–1847) and her governess, Stéphanie Félicité du Crest de Saint-Aubin, Comtesse de Genlis (1746–1830), each playing a large, beautiful harp. Leaning on the music stand before them is Mademoiselle Paméla (c. 1773–1831), who had been adopted by Madame de Genlis and raised as a companion to the d’Orléans children.

This remarkable life-size triple portrait is sure to create a sensation in our galleries just as it did when it debuted at the 1791 Salon in Paris.

installed

Martha MacLeod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant in the European and American Art Department at the DMA.

À la plage

James McNeill Whistler, Sea and Rain, 1865, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, 1955/1.89

One of the things I love most is hearing visitors’ responses to works of art.  And it’s really fun when those responses take a creative shape, and you get to hear an original poem or an elaborate this-is-what-I-think-would-happen story that helps you see the artwork in a new way.

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of giving a tour to a group of students from Bowie High School’s French Club, and they came up with great creative responses to a work in our newly-opened Lens of Impressionism exhibition.  Below are two poems based on James McNeill Whistler’s Sea and Rain.  To make these poems, students wrote descriptive words on small Post-Its (shown below), and arranged them to create phrases.  They also humored me by translating the words into French!

Calmant sérène mer
Il pleut à la plage
Admirant fantastique a la coast

Calming serene sea
Lonely raining beach
Admiring amazing shore

Il fait du vent voir ciel
Calmant pur le plage
Tranquil calme une personne

Windy looking sky
Calming pure beach
Peaceful calm person


Thanks, Bowie students, for a great tour and thoughtful poetic responses.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach


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