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Fabre Museum in Montpellier, France

Fabre Museum in Montpellier, France
  • Country: France
  • City: Montpellier
  • Address: 39 Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle, 34000
   Montpelier is the unpretentious provincial city on the south of France. Calm, cozy and measured- all these epithets bring you to the creative mood. The "beauty spot", the ordinary tourists will say and will be extremely right because this town is directly related to everything connected with this fine art, the painting.

   When observing the numerous sights, the smell of the paint of an old mill and the anticipation of the meeting the beautiful will direct your steps towards the Fabre Museum that is famous not only with its collection of painting but also with its unique history.

Francois Xavier Fabre

   We may better start with the famous French artist Francois Xavier Fabre whose name the museum goes under. Fabre was born here in Montpelier in 1766. One of the consummate masters of classicism, Jacques Louis David, taught him painting. His artworks won the recognition on the prestigious contest in Rome in 1787 and after that he did not return back to his homeland for a long time. This was facilitated by the Great Bourgeois Revolution in France. He lived in Italy for a long time and created there. He was well received at the aristocratic courtly companies. He maintained friendly relations with the countess Albany and count Vittorio Alfieri. After the count passed away in 1803, Fabre took his place by the countess's side. He outlived the countess, as well, and inherited, besides the whole other belongings of the counts couple, also the unique collection of paintings.

   It is 1826 outside. Napoleon Bonaparte is no longer alive. Fabre is coming back to Montpelier. He makes the fine gesture by giving his collection of paintings and his library to this native city as a gift, with the only condition saying that the collection must serve as a basis for the museum where Fabre would live and meet his old age. This is how he became the first director of the today's Fabre museum.

   It was decided to station the museum in the beautiful mansion built in 1775. The building itself was located on the place of former guesthouse, in the eastern part of Montpelier's historical centre. In due time it even accommodated Moliere when he was on tour with his troupe.

Hall of columns in the Fabre Museum

   By the way, nowadays the museum has its branch situated in the next building where the decorations, antique furniture pieces and the fine art works of the Second Empire's times are collected. Also, some of the exhibits are exposed in the Jesuits College.

   The foundation of the museum took place in 1828. Initially, its expositions consisted of the collection of the neoclassical paintings (Fabre's gift) but the museum was rapidly widening. Fabre built up the museum treasuries, buying the canvases by the Flemish and Dutch artists.

   In 1868 the sponsor Alfred Bruia became the director of the Fabre museum and managed it till 1876. During that period he supplemented the museum funds with the paintings by Delacroix, Cabanel, Courbet. Hypochondriac Bruia had the special liking for his own portraits; he had 34, four of them were painted by his friend Courbet. There are also some other Courbet's paintings in the collection. Fifteen in total, they are the pride of the museum as this is biggest collection of Courbet's paintings under one shelter in whole France. Among others, there are the "Man with a pipe" treated as one of the best self-portraits of Courbet, "Sleeping spinner" copied from one of the artist's sisters, "The beach at Palavas" where the artist himself is painted saying hello to the Mediterranean Sea.

One of the halls of the Museum Fabre

   Another heritage of the museum are the works of one of the founders of impressionism, Frederic Basel, whose paintings were transferred to the museum by his family. At the same time the museum had some more paintings by Alexander Cabanel, also as a present. By the way, both of them, Basel and Cabanel, were natives of Montpelier.

   In 2003 the museum was closed for restoration that lasted for about five years and cost about 63 million euro, but the game was worth candle. The exposition area was increased up to 10000 square meters, one thousand of which accommodates temporary expositions. The main entrance was also moved, it is now in the Jesuits College.
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