Resurgence and Innovation: Artists’ Inspiration in Nineteenth-Century France
December 12, 2017 to March 18, 2018
James Tissot, The Fatted Calf, 1882, Etching on Van Gelder laid paper. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, the Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions, 2011.109.5.
The nineteenth century in France was a turbulent period featuring frequent political revolutions and rapid social and technological change. Many artists of that era responded to the tumult of contemporary life by turning to new subject matter, pictorial styles, and technical processes. At the same time, however, shifting historical currents forced a re-engagement with the art of the past.
This exhibition of 16 works in a variety of media explores the eclectic range of sources and precedents—from the very ancient to the most up-to-date—that served as inspiration for nineteenth-century artists in France: photographers documenting medieval monuments, printmakers producing scenes of modern leisure, painters reflecting on their creative practice through the lens of classical mythology, and more.
Organized by a trio of students who participated in the spring 2017 course The Past Resurgent in Nineteenth-Century Art, it is one of several concurrent exhibitions that showcase the ways in which the Smart Museum engages with and shares the intellectual life of the University with the broader public.