A fascinating exhibition featuring previously unpublished pencil works by Monet and Pissarro will be running until 3 July at the Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris.
Art and Child features many other masters of French painting including Cezanne, Manet, Matisse, Morisot, Renoir and Picasso whose works have been taken from private collections and prestigious museums around the world. The exhibition chronicles the evolution of the status of the child from the 15th to the 20th century – culminating in the ‘childlike’ drawings of the “vanguards” of art of the 20th century.
The exhibition offers an opportunity not only to see, as the museum states, works you may be unfamiliar with by the masters; but also to see works you may be familiar with, through a different perspective. The exhibition opens with one of the Cluny’s museums major works on loan, The Presentation of the Temple, attributed to André Beauneveu and Jean de Liège, demonstrating the aggrandizement of the child, or child-god, in artistic iconography of the late Middle Ages. This, as we see in the exhibition, would then evolve to the phenomenon of the child-king, with portraits of a young Louis XIV and all his divine rights, disappearing under volumes of ermine.
The exhibition continues to explore the roles of the child through the annals of time, with the age of The Enlightenment, the medical advancements of the late 18th century and their bid to combat infant mortality. At this time we also see that under the influence of philosopher Jean-Jacque Rousseau, breast-feeding becomes increasingly popular. In contrast there are children represented from disadvantaged backgrounds, children enlisted into the army at a young age during the revolution and the depiction of child-slaves.
Then there are the impressionists, who are the self-proclaimed guardians of more privileged, bourgeois backgrounds, in a reaction to what has passed before. Pioneering a new vision for the modern family with works such as Eugène Manet and His Daughter Julie by Berthe Morisot, The Promenade at Argenteuil by Monet and The Lesson by Renoir.
As the exhibition reaches the 20th century we have the aforementioned unpublished works by Monet and Pissarro, and childhood drawings of artists such as Jean Lucrat and Maurice Denix – which leads to the notion cultivated by the avant-garde artists, of infantile creations as a new means of visual representation. Here, we have the modern masters exercising this new means with portraits of Picasso and his son, Le Peintre et l’enfant (1969) and Matisse’s The Portrait of Pierre (1909), pictured above.
Art and Child runs from 10 March to 3 July at the Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris.