In the heart of the city of Tours, the Musée des Beaux-Arts enjoys a setting replete with history.  A Turon dwelling during the Gallic epoch, as is attested by an underground lapidary inscription, in the 4th century it was chosen as the site for the chapel abutting the archbishops’ palace that was bequeathed to posterity.  Today, the museum contains an exceptionally rich collection of furnishings, painting and sculpture bringing together work of some of the more notable artists since pre-Renaissance times.

As for the museum itself, it came into being in 1801 thanks to the boundless energy and steadfast determination of the founder of the town’s design school, Charles-Antoine Rougeot and his son-in-law, Jean-Jacques Raverot. During the French Revolution, they were instrumental in the transformation of the ancient archbishops’ palace into an artwork repository. That is why the museum’s oldest collections consist in works seized in the émigrés’ houses, convents and churches, particularly the major abbeys of Marmoutier, Bourgueil and La Riche, along with canvases and noteworthy furniture from the one-time castle of Chanteloup or from Richelieu. Visitors to Tours shall enjoy the opportunity to appreciate works outside of the monuments in which they were originally exhibited, some of which no longer exist.

As soon as it opened, at the dawn of the 19th century, the museum was fortunate enough to receive, from the future Louvre museum, thirty spectacular canvases, including series originating in the Académie royale de peinture. Works by Nattier, Restout, Houasse and Dumont le Romains were the first to be displayed in the museum.

It was during the same epoch that the Tours establishment received the magnificent Ex-voto of Rubens and Italian Renaissance masterpieces:  two panels by Andrea Mantegna, Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and The Resurrection, panels from the predella of the Basilica of San Zeno Verons retable.

The Musée des beaux Arts de Tours contains invaluable works from major artists of their epochs including Blanchard, Restout, Boulogne, Houël, La Fosse, Lamy, Le Sueur and Parrocel. The 18th century is particularly well-represented inasmuch as the musée contains one of the most important collections in France of Age of Enlightenment paintings; visitors will have the opportunity to view works by Lorenzo Veneziano, Rembrandt, Champaigne, Corneille, Coypel, Ingres, Largillière, Lemoyne, Perronneau, Hubert Robert, Van Loo and Vernet. The 19th century is likewise highlighted with paintings considered as neo-classical (Suvée, Taillasson), romantic (Vinchon), orientalist (Belly, Chassériau, Delacroix), realistic (Bastien-Lepage, Cazin, Gervex) and impressionist (Monet, Degas).

A  visit to the Musée des beaux Arts de Tours is a trip spanning several centuries in the company of some of the greatest artists in history. For example, the Italian primitives are on prominently on display, with the richest Italian pre-Renaissance collection aside from that of the Musée du Louvre. Last but not least, 20th-century works include: Geneviève Asse, Briggs, Calder, Davidson, Debré, Maurice Denis, Gaumont, Peinado, Seguin and Zao Wou-ki.



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