Building on these close relations, the musée d'Orsay proposed that the BNP Paribas Foundation be its partner for one of its top restoration priorities ahead of a major exhibition on the rare and delicate art of pastels. The exhibition, entitled “Mystery and Glitter. Pastels in the musée d'Orsay”, will run from October 8, 2008 to February 1st, 2009.
A corporate patronage initiative led by the BNP Paribas Foundation
The restoration of the musée d'Orsay pastels is part of the “BNP Paribas pour l'Art” program, developed by the BNP Paribas Foundation under the aegis of the Fondation de France.
Since its launch this program has enabled the restoration of over 200 works in museums across France and in other countries. Noteworthy restorations include the Mercury ceiling by Michel II Corneille in the queen's apartments at the Château de Versailles, and more recently the Virgin Triptych at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt and the Jean Gorin collection at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes.
Pastels were a popular medium in the 18th century with Maurice Quentin de La Tour and Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, although most of the works were portraits. After falling into disuse in the wake of the Revolution, pastels enjoyed a renaissance in the second half of the 19th century when the great artists of the age took up the technique. The ability to create volume effects through superposition attracted enthusiastic Impressionist painters.
The musée d'Orsay has a unique collection of pastels, including masterpieces by great pastellists such as Degas, Manet, Renoir, Millet, Redon and others. However, this fragile technique makes it hard to display since works must be preserved under extremely exacting environmental conditions, with carefully controlled temperature, light and humidity.
The musée d'Orsay has nevertheless decided to hold a major exhibition of pastels, bringing together 120 of the most stunning works in its collection. The exhibition is exceptional in several regards. Not only is this the first time a collection like this has been assembled, the works will also be visible under optimum conditions thanks to an extensive restoration campaign and the fact that they will not be in display cases.
Designed for the museum's main exhibition space, this will be the main event of the musée d'Orsay 2008-2009 season.
About the BNP Paribas Foundation
Through its multiple programs, the Foundation BNP Paribas strives to preserve and promote the cultural wealth of museums, to encourage creative talents, to aid advanced medical research, and to support initiatives that promote education, social inclusion and overcoming disabilities.
The Foundation does more than simply provide financial aid, it nurtures long-term relationships with its partners, just as the bank does with its clients. Support is carefully tailored to aid partners achieve specific objectives, including specialist advise. Programs are developed in close liaison with the BNP Paribas networks, in France and abroad.