A Big Art and Fashion Exhibition Dedicated to Paris in the Belle Époque Period Is Coming to Australia

We've found your next reason to plan a trip to Bendigo Art Gallery: 'Paris: Impressions of Life 1880–1925'.
Sarah Ward
February 27, 2024

A trip to France might not be on your agenda in 2024. Sans DeLorean, travelling back in time definitely isn't. But add visiting regional Victoria to your itinerary between March–July and you can enjoy a look at Paris in the Belle Époque period. Bendigo Art Gallery is hosting Paris: Impressions of Life 1880–1925, a big exhibition that benefits from pieces from Parisian history museum Musée Carnavalet — Histoire de Paris.

This is an exclusive showcase, so hitting the town from Saturday, March 16–Sunday July 14 is the only way to see it in Australia. Art and artisan objects will be on loan from Musée Carnavalet, and they'll have company thanks to fashion pieces from houses of the era, which will be provided by National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia.

Georges Stein. Riders, and carriages on the avenue du Bois c. 1900. oil on canvas. Musée Carnavalet. © CCO Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet — Histoire de Paris.

More than 170 works will be on display from Paris' oldest municipal museum, which is a mere fraction of its 620,000-strong collection. This is the first time that an exhibition has been solely developed from the Musée Carnavalet for an international gallery only featuring its own pieces — other than the fashion that Bendigo Art Gallery is pairing with it — which is no small coup for the venue.

Paris: Impressions of Life 1880–1925 will split its wares into seven strands, all endeavouring to show Paris of the era as seen by those who lived there. Accordingly, including across 90-plus paintings, attendees will peer at gardens, the Seine's banks, theatres, Montmartre's cabarets, openair markets, restaurants and more. Among the artists featured: Ludovic Vallée, Albert Marquet, Louis Abel-Truchet, Maurice Utrillo, Paul Signac, Jean Béraud, Maximilien Luce, Jules Chéret and Leonetto Capiello.

Paul Signac, Le Pont des Arts 1928, oil on canvas. Musée Carnavalet. © CCO Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet — Histoire de Paris.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec's theatre posters will also be a big drawcard. Or, you can check out shop signs from cafes and hairdressers, illustrated dining menus, and souvenirs from the 1889 and 1900 Exposition Universelles. It was for the 1889 event that the Eiffel Tower was built (see also: the film Eiffel).

As for the fashion, it'll cover pieces from the late-19th century to the 1920s, too, including from House of Worth, Jacques Doucet, Madeleine Vionnet and the Callot Souers.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Poster for the cabaret venue Divan Japonais at 75 rue des Martyrs 1892. colour lithograph. Musée Carnavalet. © CCO Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet — Histoire de Paris.

"Paris is without doubt one of the world's most picturesque and captivating cities, and the exhibition distils its beauty and energy, from the busy banks of the Seine, bustling marketplaces, grand boulevards, idyllic public gardens and the bohemian Montmartre area, as it was portrayed by some of the most influential artists and artisans of the period," said Jessica Bridgfoot, Director of Bendigo Art Gallery.

"This is a rare opportunity for audiences to take a promenade through turn-of-the-century Paris, a dynamic time when the city courted the attention of the world."

Stepping back into Parisian history is also on the agenda in Sydney this year, thanks to the Art Gallery of New South Wales' huge Alphonse Mucha exhibition, while both The LUME in Melbourne and HOTA, Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast are focusing on the Italian renaissance.

Ludovic Vallée, Montsouris Park c1900, oil on canvas. Musée Carnavalet. © CCO Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet — Histoire de Paris.

Souvenir fan with panorama of the 1889 Universal Exhibition 1889, printed glazed cotton percale and wood. Musée Carnavalet © CCO Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet — Histoire de Paris.

Paris: Impressions of Life 1880–1925 will display at Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo from Saturday, March 16–Sunday July 14 — head to the gallery's website for further details.

Top image: Jean Béraud, The Entrance to the 1889 Universal Exhibition 1889, oil on wood. Musée Carnavalet. © CCO Paris Musées / Musée Carnavalet — Histoire de Paris.

Published on February 27, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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