Exposition d'art français (Montréal, 1909)

A French Exhibit
in Montreal

In the winter of 1909, a French art exhibition was held in Montreal.
Auguste Rodin, Albert Besnard, Frantz Jourdain and René Lalique were on the organizing committee.

Artists in fashion

The Comité français des expositions à l'étranger was in charge of the practical aspects. It opened the exhibition to all artists but the most "agitated".
Those participating in the four Paris Salons answered to the call. Art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel sent works by Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Bronze editor Adrien-Aurélien Hébrard circulated many statuettes.
At the opening held on January 31st, 1909, more than 300 artworks were displayed, including paintings, sculptures, decorative objects, etchings, jewelry and gypsographies.
A decorated cushion was even exhibited.

Response

The artworks by Alfred Roll, Henri Caro-Delvaille, Monet, Rodin and Lalique were unanimously acclaimed.
Critics expressed some concerns that the public might not be ready for such a display of colors. However, more than 11 000 persons visited the exhibition.

Controversy

Jules Fournier, a polemist in the newspaper
Le Nationaliste, wondered about the lack of nudity in the show. He saw it as a sign that the organizers viewed the Montreal crowd as « barbaric ».

 

Traces

In the end, the exhibition was a success.
Many artworks stayed in Montreal, including the Thinker by Auguste Rodin that is still in the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts today.
There were even talks of organizing a second event,
to no avail.

To learn more

My master's thesis on the exhibition is available online.
It can be viewed in French on Archimède.



Claude Monet, Charing-Cross Bridge, la Tamise, 1903
Yamagata Museum of Art, Yamagata (Japan)


Henri Caro-Delvaille, La Manucure
Die Kunst unserer Zeit, 1903


Auguste Rodin, Le Penseur
Montreal Witness, 1909