Maurice Denis had always shown a great interest in architecture and its vast decorative compositions. The Petit Palais presents some fine examples, with this series originating in a Parisian townhouse.

Charles Stern was a wealthy German art lover, who had a townhouse built in Paris in 1909 in a resolutely modern style. He commissioned Maurice Denis to paint the cupola of an octagonal reception room. The eight trapezoidal canvases of Florentine Evening were presented at the Salon d’Automne, just before their installation at Boulevard Lannes, in 1910. This remarkable set was, however, taken down in 1914, and five of the eight panels have since disappeared.

Originally, Florentine Evening was comprised of four large panels I. Danses (Dances), II. La Cantate (Cantata), III. Baigneuses (Female Bathers), and IV. Le Poème (Poem), connected by four typical representations of the Italian landscape, Les Pins (Pines), Les Cyprès (Cypresses), Les Collines (Hills), and Les Oliviers (Olive Trees). This décor was directly inspired by the painter’s frequent trips to Italy. Music, song and bathers evoke the arts and love. The colours, at first very strong, were toned down at the request of the client, Charles Stern : " [...] your decoration as a whole is too pink and too blue. I would therefore ask you to remove the pinks and make the bodies paler."

Close to the Concorde Room where these paintings are exhibited, a rotunda presents another monumental decorative work painted by the artist especially for the Petit Palais between 1921 and 1925, celebrating the history of French art. On this cupola, Maurice Denis represented a selection of works and portraits of artists shown together in a continuous cycle. An unbroken view takes us from the age of the cathedrals to that of Francis I, then Louis XIV in the Château de Versailles. The 19th century, in which we see the Arc de Triomphe and the Opéra Garnier, is dominated by the figure of Delacroix accompanied by Carpeaux, Ingres and Puvis de Chavannes, followed by Courbet and the Barbizon landscapists. The cycle ends with Rodin and the great figures of Impressionism: Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Degas.

City of Paris municipal collection's website

City of Paris municipal collection's website

The collections portal can be used to search the collections of Paris’s 14 municipal museums (approximately 336,000 works, including 43,000 belonging to the Petit Palais).

It is also possible to download around 12,000 images of the museum’s works free of charge.

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Extern databases

Discover a selection of databases online presenting works from the Petit Palais or documents concerning the history of the museum.