Skip to content

The Black Model / Le Modèle Noir Exhibition in Paris

Musee d'Orsay The Black Model. Photo by Suzy Dias

The Black Model / Le modèle noir Exhibition in Paris

Miguel and I grabbed our kids and ran to see the Le Modèle Noir exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Our expectations were high and we were not disappointed. They did a admirable job of putting together their collection and even did some major detective work to find the names of the models (where possible), restoring their long lost identities. Hats off to the curators. My one question is, why were there were no paintings of Joseph Bologne, also known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges?

On with the tour…

Miguel Guerra in Paris. Photo by Suzy Dias

It was an impressive exhibit in many ways. Some paintings were typical depictions of black women as slaves, like Édouard Manet’s Olympia (1863) but there were also pieces that turn this idea on its head, like Aimé Mpane’s Olympia II and Larry Rivers I Like Olympia in Black Face, where they turn Manet’s piece on its head (reverso-change-o).

The Musée d’Orsay museum is gorgeous! It sits along the Seine river and is a lovely 15 minute walk from Notre Dame.

Musee d'Orsay The Black Model. Photo by Suzy Dias

Musee D'Orsay. Photo by Suzy Dias

Musee D'Orsay Clock. Photo by Suzy Dias

Black Models : From Géricault to Matisse
26 March – 21 July 2019

Taking a multi-disciplinary approach that combines the history of art and the history of ideas, this exhibition explores aesthetic, political, social and racial issues as well as the imagery unveiled by the representation of black figures in visual arts, from the abolition of slavery in France (1794) to the modern day. Designed to provide a long-term perspective, the exhibition looks more particularly at three key periods: the era of abolition (1794-1848), the new painting era up to the Matisse’s discovery of the Harlem Renaissance and the early 20th century avant-garde movement and the successive generations of post-war and contemporary artists.

The exhibition primarily focuses on the question of models, and therefore the dialogue between the artist who paints, sculpts, engraves or photographs and the model who poses. It notably explores the way in which the representation of black subjects in major works by Théodore Géricault, Charles Cordier, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse, as well as the photographs of Nadar and Carjat, evolved. [read more…]

Le Trois Dumas

The first painting we saw when we walked in was the original painting of General Alexandre Duma, which was a huge thrill! Miguel and I are great admirers of the “Trois Dumas” as they are known in France. I was more than a pleasure to be able to snap pics of all of these works of art.

The big three include General Alexandre Duma of equal rank as Napoleon in the French Revolution, his son Alexandre Duma famous writer of classics like The Three Muskateers and The Count of Monte Cristo, and his son Alexandre Dumas (fils) the equally admired playwright whose best known for the romantic novel La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camellias), published in 1848, which was adapted into Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Traviata. For more on General Dumas, click here.

And here it is, General Alexandre Dumas himself. Portrait d’un chasseur avec ses chiens attributed to Louis Gauffier.

General Alexandre Dumas, attributed to Louis Gauffier

The Black Model exhibition photos

There was so many stunning pieces of art and as usual, I took far too many photos, so I decided to share a few of my favorites here. I’ll share more in a series of posts focusing on the different artists.

 Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) Etude d'après un modèle féminin pour
Jean-Léon Gérôme Etude d’après un modèle féminin pour “A vendre, esclaves au Caire” (c. 1872)
 Larry Rivers I Like Olympia in Black Face (1970). Photo by Suzy Dias
Larry Rivers I Like Olympia in Black Face (1970)
Aimé Mpane's Olympia. Photo by Suzy Dias
Aimé Mpane Olympia II
Miguel Covarrubias Femme a la Robe Bleue (1927). Photo by Suzy Dias
Miguel Covarrubias Femme a la Robe Bleue (1927)
Paul Cézanne Une moderne Olympia (1874). Photo by Suzy Dias
Paul Cézanne Une moderne Olympia (1874)
Manet Edouard Enfants aux Tuileries (1861). Photo by Suzy Dias
Édouard Manet Enfants aux Tuileries (1861)
Abbé Jean-Pierre Moussa. Photo by Suzy Dias
Abbé Jean-Pierre Moussa (1814). This was the 2nd painting of a black man exhibited in the Salon whose identity is stated. Born in Senegal in 1814, he was ordained in 1840 in France. In 1846, he preached a sermon at Saint-Laurent church in Paris denouncing slavery as “sacrilegious”. In 1853 he was given responsibility for a parish in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Eugène Delacroix Jeune Homme Vu En Buste, La Tête Coiffée d'un Turban Rouge. Photo by Suzy Dias
Eugène Delacroix Jeune Homme Vu En Buste, La Tête Coiffée d’un Turban Rouge
Étude de tete d'après un modèle masculin, anonymous
Anonymous Étude de tete d’après un modèle masculin
Edgard Maxence L'Attente (1894). Photo by Suzy Dias
Edgard Maxence L’Attente (1894)
Eugène Faure Femme Portant une Gerbe de Blé et une Corbeille de Fruits (1866). Photo by Suzy Dias
Eugène Faure Femme Portant une Gerbe de Blé et une Corbeille de Fruits (1866)
John Philip SImpson l'esclave Captif (portrait d'Ira Aldridge?) 1827. Photo by Suzy Dias
John Philip Simpson l’Esclave Captif (portrait of Ira Aldridge?) 1827
Remy Cogghe Le Repos du modèle (1882). Photo by Suzy Dias
Remy Cogghe Le Repos du Modèle (1882)
Isidore Pils Étude de Tête d'Apès un Modèle Masculin de Profil. Photo by Suzy Dias
Isidore Pils Étude de Tête d’Apès un Modèle Masculin de Profil

Further Reading

Books in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Books in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris