Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism Benjamin-Constant in his Time

Musée des Augustins Toulouse, October 4, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Museum of Fine Arts of Montreal, January 31 – May 31, 2015

The inaugural joint exhibition between the Augustins Museum of Toulouse and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was conceived under the auspices of the French Regional American Museum Exchange (FRAME).  The French Ministry of Culture and Communication has labeled this exhibit as an “Exhibit of National Interest.” The monumental work of Benjamin-Constant: The Day of Funerals. A Moroccan Scene (1889), from the collection of the Petit Palais was specially restored for this exhibition by the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. With this restoration, the work of Benjamin Constant in reserve for so many years will finally be exhibited at the Petit Palais after the show. For this exhibition, the organizing museums managed a sweeping campaign of restoration, which permits the rediscovery of many of the paintings kept in storage for decades and in formats outside of what’s known like Day of Funerals, a Moroccan Scene (Paris, Petit Palais), Les Derniers Rebelles (Besançon, storage of the Musée d’Orsay), Les Prisonniers marocains(Bordeaux), or Beethoven, la sonate au clair de lune (Lille) ainsi que d’autres toiles du Musée du Quai Branly (Paris) and the Fine Arts School of Toulouse (ISDAT). Given by Benjamin-Constant’s widow to the City of Paris, the monumental painting The Day of Funerals, a Moroccan Scenewas stored rolled up in the reserves of the Petit Palais Museum.  The exhibition permitted not only its restoration but its framing and its reintroduction into the permanent collection of the Petit Palais where it is on display until it departs for Toulouse.  The exhibition was co-organized by the Musée des Augustins of Toulouse and the Museum of Fine Arts of Montreal.

Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, The Pink Flamingo, 1876, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest.
Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, the Flamingo, 1876, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts