French painting from the 18th-century tends to evoke the refinement of fete galante and portraiture rather than the rhetoric of great religious paintings. Yet outside of the exhibition period, churches in Paris were known as places to admire contemporary painting: the artists therefore put their best work on display. Parishes and congregations looking to renovate the capital’s churches were among the main sponsors of painters throughout history.
This exhibition aims to reveal the significance and the diversity of religious painting in Paris, from the Regency to the Revolution: from the heirs of the grand siecle, such as Largillierre and Restout; to disciples of rocaille, from Lemoine to Carle Van Loo; to the best of Neoclassicism, from Vien to David.
In a spectacular setting, centre stage is given to the works still conserved in Parisian churches, which have been restored for the occasion as part of an unprecedented campaign. In addition to immense altar paintings that revealed stunningly rich colours upon restoration, the Petit Palais’s galleries also feature sketches and other large paintings that were scattered among different museums, churches, and cathedrals throughout the country, offering visitors the opportunity to rediscover an entire segment of 18th-century painting at its peak.
GENERAL CURATORS :
Christophe Leribault, Director of the Petit Palais
Marie Monfort, Head of Conservation of Civil and Religious Artworks for the City of Paris.
Maryline Assante di Panzillo (Petit Palais)
Lionel Britten (Musee d’Orsay)
Jessica Degain, Nicolas Engel, and Emmanuelle Federspiel (COARC)
Christine Gouzi (University of Paris-Sorbonne)
Guillaume Kazerouni (Rennes Fine Arts Museum).