Musée d'Orsay: From Stage to Painting

From Stage to Painting

John Singer SargentEllen Terry as Lady Macbeth© Tate, London 2009
David, Delacroix, Hayez, Degas, Gustave Moreau, Toulouse-Lautrec, Vuillard... all these painters shared a passion for the performing arts. What role did the theatre and the opera play in the artistic production of these great masters and in developing the composition of their paintings? To what extent did their art influence future developments in stage design?

Ranging from the Neoclassicism of David to the experimental work of the scenographer and stage director Adolphe Appia, this exhibition highlights the direct influence of the theatre, or the more subtle effect of theatricality, on painting. Conversely, it also demonstrates how the great movements in the history of art influenced the theatre and opened it up to the 20th century.

However, there is another story, that of the movement towards the dematerialisation of the image (a specific feature of Modernism) which is presented in Marseille through almost two hundred works from prestigious institutions and collections around the world, including a collection of drawings and paintings by Daumier, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Cabanel, on special loan from the Musée d'Orsay.


General Curator

Guy Cogeval, general curator for cultural heritage, director of the Public Establishment of the Musée d’Orsay


Gabriella Belli, director, MART, Rovereto; Katharine Lochnan, curator, AGO, Toronto; Marie-Paule Vial, chief curator for cultural heritage, director of the Musées de Marseille; with the collaboration of Béatrice Avanzi, Dominique Laconte and Véronique Serrano.

Scientific committee

Sébastien Allard, Alberto Arbasino, Mathias Auclair, Ann Dumas, James Fowler, Paul Lang, Carlo Sisi

This exhibition has been organised by the Musée Cantini de
Marseille, in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art of Trento and Rovereto, and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto where it will be presented at a later date.

The Réunion des Musées Nationaux is co-producing this exhibition.

6 October 2009 - 3 January 2010

Marseille, Musée Cantini

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