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What’s on in Paris this April

11 March 2016

Attend Fascinating History & Art Exhibitions During a Luxury Stay at Hotel de Vigny

The French capital is renowned for its treasure-trove of galleries and museums, each boasting fascinating permanent collections and inspiring exhibition programmes. This April, a little-known cultural gem known as the Musée Jacquemart-André will be offering the chance to explore the relationship between the Impressionists and one of their favourite subject matters – Normandy. Meanwhile, history enthusiasts will want to head to the Musée de l'Armée, where a display will be delving a little deeper into the home and everyday life of Napolean Bonaparte in his final days. Read on to plan the perfect cultural break in Paris at the five-star Hotel de Vigny.

L’Atelier en Plein Air

Musée Jacquemart-André

18th March - 25th July 2016

While admiring the expressive brush strokes and varied use of colour the Impressionists adopted, art fans may also begin to see a few similarities between their scenic subject matters too. The 19th century saw the rolling hills, stunning coastline and quaint villages of Normandy become an artistic hub…and it’s the importance of this relationship that Musée Jacquemart-André will explore in its new exhibition; ‘The Open-Air Studio’.

The invention of paint in tubes in 1841 allowed artists to flee their studios and embrace the great outdoors; enabling a larger range of colours and more medium to be used. In search of a more varied weather pattern than the south, a variety of landscapes, and a destination easily accessible from the prevailing art capitals – London and Paris – avante garde painters began flocking to the region of Normandy.

Its sea-bathers, ships, architecture and countryside became a focus for Impressionists including Renoir, Degas and Gaugin, while interactions between artists in towns such as Saint-Siméon helped the movement develop further. It’s this role that Normandy played in Impressionism that the exhibition intends to shine light on, using works including Claude Monet’s ‘Sur les planches de Trouville, Hôtel des Roches noires’ that depicts a hotel beside the beach and finely dressed women holding umbrellas beneath the wispy white clouds above.

Meanwhile, seeking inspiration from everyday life, Berthe Morisot’s ‘Le port de Cherbourg’ used subtle lighting while illustrating ships anchored along the port…and away from the shore, Pissarro showed a more urban setting with bridges, buildings and a chimney in ‘Le Pont Boieldieu, Rouen, effet de pluie’. Displayed in the impressive surroundings of a Second Empire mansion, this extensive collection will inform and excite any art lover during a visit to Paris this April.

Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène. La Conquête de la Mémoire

Hôtel National des Invalides

Musée de l'Armée

6th April – 24th July 2016

Upon defeat at Waterloo and the realisation that his own people had turned against him, Napoleon Bonaparte sought asylum from British Captain Frederick Maitland and was sent to the small Atlantic island of St Helena in December 1815. It was here that he dictated his memoirs before passing away in May 1821, and it will be this period that the Musée de l'Armée’s new exhibition will explore using rare testimonies and artefacts such as restored furniture, clothing and artworks.

Not wishing a repeat of ‘Hundred Days’; the period in which Napoleon returned to govern France following his exile to Elba, the British government chose the volcanic St Helena. Located 1,162 miles from the west coast of Africa, it would ensure the former French Emperor could not return. He lived with a group of companions in Longwood House in what were reported to be damp and poor living conditions, however these were atleast aesthetically improved thanks to furniture from the Empire that he’d managed to bring with him.

A variety of objects will help paint a picture of this time in Napoleon’s life in the exhibition. Paintings and drawings will include a powerful portrait that shows only Napoleon’s tired face and the slight shadow of a torso in ‘Sainte-Hélène, La Dernière Phase’ by James Sant. ‘Napoléon sur son lit de mort’ by Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse depicts him on his death bed dressed in full uniform, while ‘Intérieur’ by J.F Villain illustrates Napoleon in his bed while a seated figure looks pensively towards the floor. Clothing on display will include a hunting uniform and his indoor outfit, which consisted of white trousers and shirt, with a cream double-breasted overcoat. A chaise longue, ornate room divider and even a display of plates will also help set the scene.

Titled ‘Napoleon at St Helena, The Conquest of Memory’ (or ‘his fight for his story’), the exhibition follows an appeal and subsequent restoration of Longwood House. The building was rebuilt and preserved, and restoration of its furniture continues; with the exhibition at the Musée de l'Armée helping to present the work undertaken to the public. Offering the chance to discover what Napoleon experienced in his last days and uncover some fact from fiction surrounding his life, this display should evoke excitement in any history fan.

With such diverse exhibitions on offer, April is the perfect month to plan a cultural break in Paris and take the opportunity to learn more about France’s rich history.

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