French paintings from the Musée Fabre, Montpellier

6 November 2003 - 14 February 2004

National Gallery of Australia, Camberra

Since 1939, the Musée Fabre has pursued an active policy to bring its rich collections of art to a wider international audience. With the museum closed for refurbishment to create a new gallery of modern painting, some of its the finest modern works will go on show at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, and the Kunsthalle in Berne.

To date, however, there has been no large-scale touring exhibition of the museum's earlier works, despite the regular programme of high-profile loans to other institutions in Europe, America and Asia. The museum's closure for reconstruction work – an initiative launched by the Communauté d’Agglomération de Montpellier with the support of the French state – provided, then, a significant opportunity to take some of the finest French paintings from the 17th to the 19th centuries on tour, to Australia. This significant project was devised and finalised with the friendly support of Dr Jörg Zutter. The exhibition necessitated extensive expert restoration of the paintings and their original frames, together with in-depth documentary research carried out by the museum's team of experts and curators. The catalogue accompanying the exhibition introduces the wider public to the extraordinary quality of the Musée Fabre's works, thanks in large part to the generosity of the museum's three Montpellier-born donors, Messrs François-Xavier Fabre, A. Valedau, and A. Bruyas.