|Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856) is the only great French Romantic painter not to have been the object of a recent retrospective (the last was held in the Orangerie in 1933). The present exhibition brings together nearly two hundred paintings, drawings and etchings and newly restored fragments of his decoration of the Cour des Comptes. It explores the twists and turns of a brief but intense career, and highlights the strangeness of a work which is too often reduced to the exaltation of womanly beauty or to its North African elements.|
It also seeks to put an end to the tenacious misapprehension that Chassériau, a languid Creole with a "troubled style" as the Goncourt brothers put it, can be categorized as a cross between Ingres, whose pupil he was as a youth, and Delacroix, whom he "plundered" from 1845 onwards. Born in Santo Domingo, probably of a half-caste mother, and related to Duperré and Tocqueville, Chassériau could not be insensitive to France's colonial policy in Algeria, where he spent three months in 1846.
The exhibition will travel to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg from 19 June to 21 September 2002 and will contain some forty drawings (mostly from the Louvre) which are not shown at Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Among these drawings are three studies for the decoration of the Eglise Saint-Merry and four studies for the decoration of the Cour des Comptes.