Exhibition at the museum

Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921), History painter

From October 07th, 1997 to January 04th, 1998 -
Musée d'Orsay
Esplanade Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
75007 Paris
Map & itinerary
Jean-Paul Laurens-L'excommunication de Robert le Pieux
Jean-Paul Laurens
L'Excommunication de Robert le Pieux, en 1875
Musée d'Orsay
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
See the notice of the artwork

A typical mainstream artist and the last of the great French history painters, Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921) was one of the best-known Third Republic painters. He displayed an exceptional realism and sense of drama, together with a wide erudition. His paintings, a few of which were widely published through dictionaries and school books, are inspired by scenes from mediaeval and Byzantine history (Robert the Pious's Excommunication, 1875), but also by more contemporary history (Maximilian's Last Moments, 1882).
A devoted republican and self-declared anticlericalist, Laurens expressed his personal convictions in his subjects, castigating the excesses of hereditary political power (Le Bas Empire, Honorius, 1880) or religious fanaticism (Sixtus IV and Torquemada, 1882). His achievement as a decorator was considerable in the Pantheon, the Capitole in Toulouse, the Paris Hotel de Ville, etc. - as well as his work as an illustrator, eaux-fortes and drawings. An important figure of the artistic scene of his time, he magnificently illustrated Michelet's well-known formula: "History is a rebirth".

The exhibition is now over.

See the whole program