Jean-Léon GérômeCentury of August: Birth of Our Lord Jesus-Christ© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé LewandowskiRMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé LewandowskiRMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
On the fringe of the Jean-Paul Laurens exhibition, this hanging, following a restoration campaign, made it possible to discover works by Paul Chevanard (The Divine Tragedy
, 1869), Tony Robert-Fleury (The Last Day of Corinthia
, 1870), Léon Bénouville, Lucien Mélingue and Jean-Léon Gérôme (The Century of Augustus: Jesus Christ's Birth
, 1855). These paintings had not been shown for several years, due to the material problems caused by their exceptionally large size and also to the lack of public interest in historical and academic painting.
This display recalled the aesthetical debate of the second half of the 19th century associated with this pictorial genre at the time in decline, even though it still attracted state commissions and excited the ambition of some artists.
Laurence des Cars, curator, Musée d'Orsay