The gallery of classical paintings

Giuseppe RECCO (1634-1695), Étal de poissons, huile sur toile, 17e siècle.
Giuseppe RECCO (1634-1695), Étal de poissons, huile sur toile, 17e siècle.

The Flemish and Dutch paintings are located at the entrance of the gallery, with Herman van SWANEVELT, Hans II JORDAENS and Godfried SCHALCKEN. Their works bear witness respectively to the development of landscape, the quest for nature and work on light – characteristic 17th century preoccupations.    
Italian paintings from the 16th to the 18th century occupy the right hand side of the gallery, and include several different schools, beginning with Venetian paintings from the 16th century and Jacopo BASSANO, renowned for his nocturnes.

Next are the painters from Rome, the capital of Baroque art in the 17th century, including Cesari Giuseppe d’ARPINO, known as Cavaliere d’Arpino, one of the greatest Roman scene painters of the 1600s. Neapolitan painting is also present with Giuseppe RECCO, a still life specialist.  Then come paintings that illustrate the Rococo exuberance, such as those by Jacopo AMIGONI or Francesco de MURA.

Jean-Laurent MOSNIER (1743 ou 1744-1808), Portrait de la famille Bergeret de Grandcourt, huile sur toile, vers 1785
Jean-Laurent MOSNIER (1743 ou 1744-1808), Portrait de la famille Bergeret de Grandcourt, huile sur toile, vers 1785

French works are exhibited on the left side of the gallery, from the classicism of René-Antoine HOUASSE – a student of Charles Le Brun, he assisted in the decoration of the  Château of Versailles – to the neoclassicism of Jacques SABLET, whose Roman Elegy (1791) is frequently compared to Masonic conceptions.  The portrait of the Bergeret de Grandcourt family (circa 1785) by Jean-Laurent MOSNIER is representative of the expansion of portrait painting in the 18th century, while historical painting continued, notably thanks to church commissions, such as the religious paintings by Carle VAN LOO.

Between Baroque and Classicism, the circuit also reveals the relationship between Italy and France in the 17th and 18th centuries, with the works of GUERCHIN, Luca GIORDANO and Sébastien BOURDON.

The last section of the gallery evokes the spread of Neoclassicism, with paintings by Pompeo BATONI, Jean-Joseph TAILLASSON and Jean-Baptiste REGNAULT, while the Romanticism of Pierre-Claude DELORME was already emerging. The paintings by HENRY d’ARLES, Pierre-Jacques VOLAIRE – known as the “peintre du Vésuve” (Vesuvius painter) – and by CANALETTO bear witness to the rise of landscape painting, in particular thanks to the success of the “vedute” paintings: cityscapes or vistas that were often brought back as  souvenirs of the grand European tour.

A number of sketches (Giacinto DIANA, Charles Joseph NATOIRE, Joseph Marie VIEN) complete the collection, revealing the preparatory work of the artists, notably with regard to the creation of the settings.