It may come as a surprise to read that France has never devoted a solo exhibition to famed 19th-century academic painter Charles Gleyre, who mentored Monet, Jean-Léon Gérôme, James McNeill Whistler, and Renoir. Will the narrative change?
Swiss academic painter Charles Gleyre (1808-1874) isn’t one of the names most often mentioned in the history of art, but his legacy — and artworks — often speak for themselves. Supremely gifted and academically trained, Gleyre produced some outstanding mythological and figurative narratives that compare in quality to William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s work.

 Charles Gleyre, “Evening, or Lost Illusions,” oil on canvas, 23 1/4 x 41 1/2 in. (c) ARC 2016, private collection

To the surprise of many, the nation of France — which was Gleyre’s home for much of his life — has yet to devote a solo exhibition to the painter. That will finally change on May 10, when the Musée d’Orsay opens “Charles Gleyre: The Reformed Romantic.” The exhibition will feature an outstanding number of canonical paintings through the museum’s own collection and major loans. The show will highlight 20th-century scholarship on the artist by Michel Thevoz, who offered fresh interpretations on Gleyre’s semiotics, including a psychoanalytical approach.

Charles Gleyre, “The Bath,” 1868, oil on canvas, 35 1/2 x 25 in. (c) Chrysler Museum of Art 2016

Needless to say, the museum is energized at the prospect of offering its patrons a unique chance to engage with the multi-layered and complex illusions of academicism. “Charles Gleyre: The Reformed Romantic” will be on view through September 11.
To learn more, visit the Musée d’Orsay.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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