Rooms 37 through to 42, on the second floor of the Collège des Jésuites, mark a complete break with preceding sections, exploring the emergence of modernism in painting. Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), the first hero of this artistic revolution, devoted himself to a realistic, unadorned depiction of the world as he saw it, with a triumphant expression of profound humanity and truth. His friendship with the collector Alfred Bruyas eventually led to the Musée Fabre's acquisition of a remarkable collection of canvases, including The Meeting and The Bathers. The Montpellier painter Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870) continued Courbet's exploration of realism and established the foundations for an entirely new approach to painting: Impressionism. In the late 19th century, Symbolism sought to reinstate a sense of spirituality and mystery in painting (Carrière), while the avant-garde artists of the early 20th century favoured the direct, dynamic use of raw colour (Matisse, Van Dongen, Delaunay, Dufy, Chabaud, Kupka...), as a totally modern means of expression. Violent contrasts anticipated the upheavals of the imminent Great War.
Modern art from 1850 to 1914
Salon Courbet / Bazille
Gallery of the moderns / Salle des modernes