The 19th to 21st century rooms
A first group of exhibition rooms presents the varied currents of the 19th century. Firstly we have Romanticism, with François-Édouard CIBOT and Merry-Joseph BLONDEL; historical painting, with
Jean-Paul LAURENS, Henri Léopold LÉVY and Évariste LUMINAIS; Academicism, with Alfred DELOBBE. These paintings include the famous trompe-l’œil, Cows in a cowshed (1841), by Georg KNEIPP.
Next, evoking Brest’s long maritime history is a series of shipwreck scenes by Louis-Philippe CRÉPIN, First Painter to the Navy Department, Louis-Ambroise GARNERAY, and Philippe TANNEUR.
The following exhibition room houses paintings by Karl Pierre DAUBIGNY and Alexis Auguste DUMOULIN D’ARCY. The Orientalists are opposite, represented by Eugène FROMENTIN, Alexandre Gabriel
DECAMPS and Ivan Konstantinovich AÏVAZOVSKI. Here you will also find the Two Parrots by Edouard MANET.
A last room is devoted to portraits from the 19th and 20th centuries. It houses works by Raphaël COLLIN, Louis-Marie DÉSIRÉ-LUCAS and Paul MATHEY, but also a recently acquired hyperrealist painting by André RAFFRAY, Pennavouez en Saint-Nic (1975).
A second series of rooms focuses on the Symbolist movement, one of the strong points of the collection. Here you will find pastels by Lucien LÉVY-DHURMER and René MÉNARD, as well as
paintings by Edmond AMAN-JEAN, Charles Marie DULAC, Henri MARTIN, Edgard MAXENCE and Alexandre SÉON. Next is the Pont-Aven Group, with the works of Émile BERNARD, Henri DELAVALLÉE, Émile JOURDAN
and Maxime MAUFRA. The paintings of Maurice DENIS, Georges LACOMBE and Paul SÉRUSIER provide a good sample of the works of the Nabis painters.
There is considerable emphasis on Breton painting, exhibited in the following exhibition rooms. Maritime and rural scenes situate general artistic currents in the local past, such as the realism of Charles COTTET and Lucien SIMON, the fauvism of Robert DELAUNAY or the cubism of Henri LE FAUCONNIER. Decorative painting is also represented, with the works of Jean-Julien LEMORDANT, Yvonne JEAN-HAFFEN and Mathurin MÉHEUT, several of whose ceramics are on display.
The Flowering Apple Tree or The Balcony at Vernonnet (circa 1920) by Pierre BONNARD, as well as the series of paintings of white houses beside the sea (1907) by Henry de WAROQUIER, fit into the Impressionist painting tradition.
And one mustn’t forget the bold surrealism of Yves TANGUY, exploring an inner world with his painting When They Shoot Me (1927).
Contemporary art occupies a relatively modest space, grouping together the abstract artists who were supported by the art critic Charles Estienne, such as Jean DEGOTTEX, René DUVILLIER, Jan KRIZEK and Marcelle LOUBCHANSKY. Abstraction is also evoked in the works of Marta PAN and Vera MOLNAR. There are also works by original Breton artists including François DILASSER, André LÉOCAT and Pierre PÉRON.
The room devoted to the history of Brest and to our nautical paintings offers precious glimpses of the city’s lost past, with the minutely detailed View of the Port of Brest (1774), by Louis-Nicolas Van BLARENBERGHE, The Port of Brest in 1864 by Jules NOËL, as well as views by Lucien-Victor DELPY, Auguste JUGELET and Ferdinand PERROT. The majestic painting by Nicolas OZANNE, The departure of the French fleet, April 10th 1756, for the attack against Port Mahon, commemorates the sole victory of the French fleet over the British fleet during the Seven Years War (1756-1763).