La Culture: 3 Picks Off the Beaten Track

La Culture: 3 Picks Off the Beaten Track

These art exhibitions are the perfect excuse to rediscover some beautiful corners of France.


The city of Agen and its Fine Arts Museum present an outstanding exhibition with a fresh and unexpected view on Goya and his work, featuring significant loans from museums and private collections around the world.

In the late nineteenth-century, Count Damase de Chaudordy bequeathed a very substantial collection to his native Agen. As French ambassador to the court of Madrid he bought many works, among them several paintings attributed to Goya, which are displayed in this exquisite exhibition alongside a selection of works in several media, and analysed in detail.

The museum’s scientific team has received the assistance of a pre-eminent Goya specialist Juliet Wilson-Bareau with the support from the French Minister of Culture.

November 8, 2019 to February 10, 2020.

Bill Viola Self portrait, Submerged 2013 [detail] © Bill Viola Studio : photo Kira Perov

Since the Middle Ages artists built on a strategy of social elevation, gradually establishing themselves as singular beings, out of the ordinary, evoking respect and admiration, as well as controversy, censorship and persecution. From Albrecht Dürer to Jeff Koons, via Jacques-Louis David, Édouard Manet, Frida Kahlo, Marina Abramovic and Pilar Albarracín, this exhibition in Lille explores the myth of the artist as that of a craftsman who wishes to become immortal. The exhibition explores the path of artists striving to make a name for themselves, to live off their art, and to gain recognition by their peers.

The narrative is organised into sections like chapters in a book, within which the works, each accompanied by a text, unfold like the pages of each chapter, with paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, and extracts from films and television all serving to shed light on the making of an artist.

Until January 6, 2020

Henry Moret, Goulphar, Belle-Île, 1895. Propriété du musée d’Orsay, mais déposée depuis des années au musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper.


Paul Gauguin first travelled to Pont-Aven in 1886, at the same time as Claude Monet, the pioneer of Impressionism who happened to be staying in Belle-Ile-en-Mer. This meeting of the creative flames opened the floodgates of what was to become one of the most recognisable art movements of all time, as a succession of artists pursued in their own way this new vibrant approach to vibrancy, colour and light.

The exhibition groups together more than 70 works from the Impressionists known as the Pont-Aven group who came to paint or settle in Brittany.

Until January 5, 2020

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Sylvia Edwards Davis is a writer and correspondent based in France with a focus on business and culture. A member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia scans the cultural landscape to bring you the most relevant highlights on current events, art exhibitions, museums and festivals.

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  • Sylvia Edwards Davis
    2019-11-15 08:45:21
    Sylvia Edwards Davis
    Thank you so much for that Michael! What an interesting article by Sarah Turnbull. That portrait of Van Gogh by Russell is striking... the eyes! Thanks again for posting this, it's always so exciting to keep learning and discovering. Russell's work is breathtaking.


  • Michael James
    2019-11-01 14:12:27
    Michael James
    FYI, an obscure member of the Belle-Ile scene was Australia's "lost impressionist" John (Peter) Russell. In fact his works can be seen in Musée Orsay, Musée Rodin and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam which has his portrait, the first, of a young VG from when they worked at the Fernand Cormon workshop-studio, along with Emile Bernard and Toulouse-Lautrec. The connection with Rodin is that his muse and model, Marianna Mattiocco became Russell's wife and they moved in 1888 to Belle-Ile. Russell was obsessed with its Côte Sauvage which he painted endlessly. Wiki says: "Russell had met Vincent van Gogh in Paris and formed a close friendship with him.[9] The two artists particularly bonded over being foreigners in the Parisian avant-garde scene.[10] Van Gogh spoke highly of Russell's work, and after his first summer in Arles in 1888 he sent twelve drawings of his paintings to Russell, to inform him about the progress of his work. Claude Monet often worked with Russell at Belle Île and influenced his style, though it has been said that Monet preferred some of Russell's Belle Île seascapes to his own. In 1890, Russell left Belle Île and traveled to Antibes in a horse-drawn cart, where he rented a house for the winter and produced some of his most acclaimed work.[6] Due to his substantial private income Russell did not attempt to make his pictures well known. In the 1880s and 1890s, Russell hewed closely to pure French impressionist style.[10]" The little known painter has been subject of an exhibition in Sydney last year and has been studied by Sarah Turnbull (she of Almost French fame) for an upcoming biog I believe; here is a newspaper article: John Russell: Van Gogh's little-known Aussie Impressionist mate John Russell was friends with art giants Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Rodin and Claude Monet, who celebrated his work. Now the Sydney-born painter's work is taking centre stage. By Sarah Turnbull, 14 July 2018