Past exhibitions

Her majesty, the swing bridge

Exhibition from 5 April to 18 September 2016


As part of Brest 2016 and to celebrate Brest’s new cable car, this exhibition explores the representations of a work of Brest maritime art: the swing bridge. Also known as the Pont Imperial then the Pont National, this metallic structure built in 1861 and destroyed in 1944 linked the banks of Penfeld without impeding the passage of ships.

When painters, engravers and photographers turned their attention to the subject of the swing bridge, they did not simply depict a portrait: by claiming ownership of it, they raised it to the status of a monument. Photographers emphasised the monumental nature of its architecture - which was the subject of much debate at the time of its construction - from different perspectives, while illustrators and engravers attempted to magnify it using enhancive layouts. Initially praised as a new level of technical mastery, the bridge quickly became a tourist attraction. Postcards and souvenirs reflected this infatuation with a work of art that had become the symbol of the city of Brest.

Beyond the swing bridge, artists attested in their own way to the prominence of metallic constructions in art in general. This new aesthetic, which appeared in Brest in 1860 and spread within a decade, reconciled beauty and functionality.

Pierre Péron (1905- 1988), 

a modern graphic designer

From 2 July 2015 to 3 January 2016


Though Pierre Péron is known as a painter as well as a Brest resident who was an ardent admirer of his city and its inhabitants, he is less known as a graphic artist. However, from his Parisian studio where he worked for years, he did design drawings, posters, engravings, and even carved wooden letters that translate the artist’s creativity and originality.

His little-known posters are permeated with the spirit of the most innovative poster designers of the interwar period and express an exceptional freedom of tone and form. He created engravings for artists of the Seiz-Breur movement who called for a modern form of art inspired by Breton traditions. These engravings are as different from his posters as they are from his friends’ engravings. Humour and poetry occupy a prominent place. He drew just as much inspiration from his supple and lively stroke when he designed typographies and when he worked as an illustrator. And when Hermès ordered patterns for their famous silk scarves from him or when Kelt entrusted him with designing jewellery, he worked vigorously on creating inspired graphic designs.


The Italian masters of the Museum of Brest

30 April 2014 - 4 January 2015


Italy in Brittany ? It may seem like a strange idea. Yet it’s through such a trip that the museum of fine arts invites you to embark on through its exhibition of the most beautiful 17th and 18th century Italian paintings housed in Brest.

Who knew that Brest held a first-rank collection of Italian paintings? The collection is often on loan - in 2013 and 2014 to the museum of fine arts, Quimper and to the museum of fine arts, Rennes for the exhibition De Véronese à Casanova, and recently displayed in Rome.

Having been recently restored, the collection is being studied through new sources that have broadened our understanding of the works. The collection is on display today in its entirety with a curatorial effort to provide rich textual explanations, audiovisual material and opportunities for interaction. For the purpose of the exhibition, the gallery of ancient paintings has been restored and modernized.

Anna Quinquaud : a sculptor in Africa

4 February 2014 - 17 May 2014


Anna Quinquaud (1890-1984), high sculptor of the first half of the twentieth century and recipient of the first Second Prix de Rome, enjoyed embarking on faraway, solitary adventures in Africa. While there, she committed herself to the exploration of the African continent, a subject which soon became a great source of inspiration. Like Anita Conti or Karen Blixen, Anna Quinquaud is part of a group of notable women who were ahead of their time, free to explore the world in pursuit of their passion. Her work pays homage to Africa’s beauty and its ancestral traditions.


The majority of the exhibition is made up of works conserved by the Museum of Fine Arts, Brest since the artist donated the collection in 1980. Since, the collection has been exhibited in Guéret, Gray, Mont-de-Marsan, Roubaix and La Rochelle. It is nationally recognized by the Minister of Culture and Communication. The exhibition, which is made up of more than 80 sculptures, drawings and documents, allows the public to truly discover this little-known artist and her extraordinary work.


© Direction Communication Brest métropole océane

Painters of Pont-Aven at the museum of Brest

29 may 2013 - 5 January 2014


The museum of Brest conserves a set of paintings, drawings, prints and unpublished sculptures by artists from the School of Pont Aven and Nabis. This exposure fed by works brought out of the reserves, shows the place which they hold in the new approaches of the art history.

The set so attempts to show the evolution of artists involved in the influence of Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard, by the theorizations of Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier. It also reports on recent researches setting Emile Bernard, which the museum preserves 12 works, at the centre of the birth of aesthetics of Pont-Aven, previously assigned exclusively to Gauguin.

It shows what the synthetic forms encircled with an outline, a flat of pure colours, the atypical centrings of their works owe to Paul Sérusier, to Emile Bernard, to Georges Lacombe that the museum keeps a surprising monumental sculpture, also to Armand Seguin, to Charles Filiger without forgetting underestimated Henri-Gabriel Ibels known as the Nabi journalist and Maxime Maufra which occupied a place of choice. The route of the exhibition goes on by a cabinet of drawings with pastels of Claude-Émile Schuffenecker, studies of Henry Moret, a gouache of Jan Verkade and a portrait of Charles Filiger's.

© Direction Communication Brest métropole océane

Ode to rain

17 April – 10 November 2013


The rain is the theme explored in this exhibition. It’s translation -often glorified- in Art and its significance in the history of Ideas. Fascinated by the atmospheric manifestations, where Man has no control, many artists who have confronted this challenge of representation. How difficult is it to realize that this element is immaterial and ephemeral.

From the 18th century to our days, the exhibition finds a new vision of the rain thought different forms. Painting, engraving, photography, literary extracts and objects resulting from popular arts associated in space so as to provide visitors in a poetic journey. Alfred Sisley, as much as Paul Sérusier, Henri-Gabriel Ibels or even Eugène Boudin were qualified by Corot, King of skies who have taken this theme to deliver a magnified picture.

These ancient works will be placed in perspective with a contemporary production from evanescent works of Geneviève Asse to the writings of Patrick Tosani about the rain.

La vague japoniste. Les peintres en Bretagne. 10 July - 4 November 2012
La vague japoniste. Les peintres en Bretagne. 10 July - 4 November 2012

La vague japoniste. Les peintres en Bretagne

10 July - 4 November 2012


This exhibition is presented in the context of the Bretagne-Japon 2012 event, and immerses us in the vogue for all things Japanese in the period when Japan was opening up to the western world.


The discovery of Japanese art by westerners, through the dissemination of ukiyo-e (literally "pictures of the floating world") prints, led artists to renew the way they represented nature, transforming their compositions and intensifying the hues. Inspired by Japonism, some spent time in Brittany, where the sea became their favourite subject.


From impressionist echoes to the lessons of Pont-Aven, including the legacy of classical landscapes, the exhibition brings together the finest works of artists who showed Brittany from a perspective inspired by Japanese art (Georges Lacombe, Émile Bernard, Paul Sérusier, Maurice Denis, Émile Jourdan, Jean-Francis Auburtin, Henri Rivière, Henry Moret, Maxime Maufra and René Quillivic), presented in juxtaposition with woodblock prints by Japanese artists (Hiroshige, Hokusai, Kuniyoshi).