Archive for October 6th, 2018

October 6, 2018

Museum of Fine Arts at Tours!

And since will be away for a few days , let me finish my story on the city of Tours with its wonderful museum in a historical building.  The day still cloudy and rainy and temps are down to 15C or 59F.

Need to tell you about a museum; granted I love history and all related to museums are part of it, even if do not go to as many as I should. The Museum of Fine Arts or Musée des Beaux-Arts of Tours is excellent. Let me tell you a bit on the history and collection,just brief,you get the idea come and see it, you will be glad I told you so.


The Museum of Fine Arts, its in the old Episcopal palace of the bishops near the Cathedral, since 1910. It has a beautiful collection of French paintings and the primitive Italian or old Italian masters painter such as Mantegna, as well as sculpture by Rodin, Houdon and Others. It has a cedar trip planted in 1902 while a visit by the Barnum and Bailey Circus with around it an elephant killed while going while that year.


A French-style garden extends past the episcopal palace of the 18C, which has retained part of its original decor. A cedar of lebanon, tree can be seen in this same courtyard, in a building in front of the palace, Fritz, a stuffed Asian elephant, slaughtered because he became uncontrollable during a parade of the circus Barnum & Bailey in the streets of Tours on June 10, 1902. Access to the elephant and the large cedar tree is free inside the park.




A bit of history I like

The museum houses in its underground the most beautiful lapidary inscription to the glory of the Turons (original inhabitants of Tours). The first bishops had chosen to settle in the vicinity of the Cathedral, in a palace built on the rampart of the 4C which still remains today of beautiful traces including the corner tower. Another vestige of this period was a chapel backed by the Archbishop’s palace dating back to the 4C and rebuilt in 591AD  on the orders of Gregory of Tours. This building was transformed in the 12C and partly destroyed in the 17C during the development of the new Archbishop Palace. In the 12C the so-called synod wing was built. Constantly transformed over the centuries, this immense hall where two meetings (1468 and 1484) were gathered the States General of the Kingdom of France is one of the most evocative historical places in the history of Touraine. After 1789, French revolution, the Archbishop’s Palace became a theater, a central school, a library ,then by 1792 became the deposit of the works seized (nationalisation) at the French Revolution. A first museum opens to the public in 1795.

Under the Empires and throughout the 19C, the buildings were again assigned to the Archdiocese. The works thus leave this place and move to temporary premises, in the former convent of the Visitation, then in the old stewardship, before the inauguration in 1828 a building created specifically to welcome the museum on the Place des Arts along the Loire river. It was only in 1910, when the city became the owner of the premises, that the collections reintegrated the old Archbishop Palace as of today.

And what is in it… well read on…

The Museum’s oldest fund consists of works seized in 1794 (during the French revolution aftermaths) from the houses of emigrants, churches and convents, in particular the large abbeys of Marmoutier, Bourgueil and La Riche, as well as paintings and furniture from the Château de Chanteloup and the Château de Richelieu. Among the most famous are Gabriel Blanchard, François Boucher, Louis de Boulogne, Jean-Pierre Louis Laurent Houël, Charles de La Fosse, Charles Lamy, Eustache Le Sueur, Joseph Parrocel, Jean Restout. Gaëtan Cathelineau , student and friend of David, Professor of drawing at the Royal College of Tours, bequeathed about fifty paintings of ancient painters, including the only undeniable Hubert Robert of the collection, “Cascade under a ruined bridge”, and an astonishing Louis Cretey, “Tobie and the Angel”. In 1963 the museum receives the collection of the painter and collector Octave Linet, constituting one of the largest collections of Italian primitives after the Louvre Museum and the Museum of the Petit Palais d’Avignon.

The museum maintains an important and fairly homogeneous collection of paintings punctuated by several masterpieces, including the two paintings by Andrea Mantegna   coming from the San Zeno Altarpiece (the Last of the three elements of the predelle, the Crucifixion, being preserved at the Louvre museum): the ancient French painting is represented abundantly for the 17C and 18C. The French painting of the 19C is also amply represented, the collection of Flemish and Dutch paintings presents works by major artists such as Rubens and Rembrandt. The 20C is illustrated above all by a beautiful set of abstract paintings.

For the sculpture, you will find notably the imposing Diane huntress (Diane chasseresse) , bronze of Jean-Antoine Houdon, one of the very rare original prints of the work in marble executed from 1776, as well as works by Antoine Coysevox (bust of Louis XIV), Auguste Rodin (Balzac drape, bronze, 1898), Antoine Bourdelle, Alexander Calder (Mobile, painted metal, circa 1957) and Olivier Debré.

Like I said, simply a must to visit while in the area or in Tours. Some of the webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Tours on the museum

Official Museum of Fine Arts

Region Centre Val de Loire on the museum

Tourist office of Tours on the museum

Hope you enjoy the post and make you think about coming over to see it, Tours is wonderful or is it Centre Val de Loire or the valley of the kings or is it France!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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