With its collections of ancient, modern and contemporary art, the Musée de Grenoble offers you a chance to traverse the history of western painting from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Included are major masterpieces of classical Flemish, Dutch, Italian and Spanish painting; one of 20th century Europe’s richest collections; and all the great post-1945 contemporary art trends, right up to the most recent artworks of the 2000s.
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After spending his childhood in Rome, François Gérard was in Paris in 1782, where he studied drawing and painting. At the 1785 Salon, he enthusiastically discovered Le Serment des Horaces/The Oath of the Horatii, and joined David’s studio the following year. Barely ten years later, he was already successful, and went on to become one of the great portrait painters of his day. Gérard was also a history painter, depicting, for the greater glory of the Emperor, the victory at Austerlitz on the ceiling of a reception in the Tuileries. Flora and Zephyr belongs to the tradition of great decorations carried out in private residences. In 1797, Gérard, along with five other artists, including Girodet, each painted a panel to decorate the reception room of Mr. Gaudin’s mansion in Paris, on Rue du Mont-Blanc, where the interior architecture was entrusted to Charles Percier. The whole set of panels represents elegant, and even erotic, mythological themes, where flowers are a dominant decorative motif. Gérard painted this Flora who, immaterial and diaphanous, walks on the earth’s surface, surrounded by a host of flowers in pastel and iridescent hues, which she sows as she passes, at the mercy of the wind. The supple lines, the colours with their subdued tones, and, even more so, the curly, tousled hair, the half-closed eyes and the ecstatic smile all express her pleasure beneath the caresses of the Wind.
In 1799, Gérard made a small original replica of this picture, in which Flora is shown no longer on the hemisphere but in a bucolic landscape setting.
Baron François Gérard, Rome
Flora and Zephyr, 1802
© Musée de Grenoble