Out of its collection of more than 200 pastels, the Petit Palais is presenting a selection of close to 150 of them for the first time, offering an exhaustive overview of the main artistic currents of the second half of the 19th-century, from Impressionism to Symbolism.
The exhibition showcases the collection’s best paintings, including the works of Berthe Morisot, Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, Mary Cassatt, and Edgar Degas; along with symbolist artists such as Lucien Levy-Dhurmer, Charles Leandre, Alphonse Osbert, Emile-Rene Menard, and a particularly remarkable collection of works by Odilon Redon; as well as society painters such as James Tissot, Jacques-Emile Blanche, Victor Prouve, and Pierre Carrier-Belleuse.
The pastel technique, which is endlessly seductive due to the material itself and its colours, allowed artists to quickly produce works in a wide variety of styles. From simple coloured sketches to highly accomplished works of art, pastel is at the crossroads between drawing and painting.
The majority of the pieces on display date from 1850 to 1914 and illustrate the resurgence of pastel in the second half of the 19th century. The exhibition is also an opportunity to initiate visitors to the pastel technique and highlight the difficulties in conserving works on paper that are particularly sensitive to light and can therefore not remain on permanent display.
Gaelle Rio, Curator at the Petit Palais, Head of the 18th-20th century graphic art collections