From the museum’s press release, 2 July 2012
The Musée Fabre of Montpellier Agglomération, the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse and FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange), the organisation for French-American cooperation have joined together to produce an exhibition-event dedicated to European Caravaggism, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford.
Close both in terms of geography and the complementary nature of their collections, the two great cities of the Languedoc are the perfect hosts for this exhibition. Whilst the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse holds marvellous examples of Northern Caravaggism, the Musée Fabre of Montpellier Agglomération possesses superb works by Italian, Spanish and French members of the 17th century movement. These specialisms determined the natural division between the two halves of the same exhibition.
The exhibition Bodies and Shadows, Caravaggio and European Caravaggism gathers together some 140 masterpieces from the greatest 17th century painters, through the generous cooperation of prestigious international institutions, and demonstrates the revolutionary influence of the Italian master on a half-century of painting.
Montpellier, Caravaggio and the Southern Caravaggesques
The Musee Fabre of Montpellier Agglomération is honouring Southern Caravaggism with an exhibition featuring some 75 works from the great masters. The special introductory gallery will display masterpieces by Caravaggio, including several works rarely seen in France. Paintings by Baglione, Saraceni, Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi reveal a direct influence by the Master while
a section is specially dedicated to the period in Rome between 1610 and 1630, when Manfredi and the French painters (Vouet, Valentin and Vignon) helped increase the popularity of Caravaggio’s preferred techniques. The following section focuses on painters who were not generally considered to be specifically Caravaggesque but were, during their career, tempted by Caravaggism (Reni, Spada, Guercino, Strozzi and Cairo). The mark of the Caravaggesque style in Naples, and later Spain, is illustrated by first class artists: Caracciolo, Velázquez, Zurbarán and Ribera. The exhibition
concludes majestically with one of the most illustrious ‘painters of reality’, whose work instinctively recalls Caravaggio: the French artist Georges de La Tour.
Toulouse, the Northern Caravaggism
For the Musée des Augustins, the bringing together of masterpieces by the key masters of Northern Caravaggism is a major event – the movement as such has not hitherto been the subject of an exhibition in France. The exhibition gives pride of place to the Utrecht school, the most clearly influenced by Caravaggio’s heritage, through three of its most important members: Ter Brugghen, Baburen and the elegant Honthorst. A monograph gallery dedicated to Matthias Stom pays justice to this little-known painter, enabling visitors to discover several of his striking masterpieces. Nor are the Flemish Caravaggesques (Seghers, Cossiers…) forgotten. To conclude, the exhibition features the quintessential figure of Rembrandt and his mysterious Caravaggesque atmospheres.
A French-American event
This event has come to fruition at the heart of the FRAME network, a federation of 26 museums in France and North America which seeks to promote cultural collaboration through bilateral exchanges and encourages partnerships between its members. The American museum public will be able to see a version of the exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) from
11 November 2012 until 10 February 2013, and then at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, from 8 March until 16 June 2013, both museums being members of FRAME and coorganizing partners of the exhibition.