A Tour of Museums: Musee des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux and Galerie des Beaux-Arts (A Photo Essay)

Pennant hanging from the side of the museum announces schedules.

     The Museum of Fine Arts in Bordeaux and its annex, the Gallery of Fine Arts, two of the biggest art museums outside of Paris, house permanent and temporary exhibitions, respectively, of 17th t0 20th century paintings by Flemish, Dutch, Italian and French masters. But more than knowing that, the museum resonates, to a comparatist like me, with W.H. Auden‘s famous poem bearing the museum’s name, inspired, I had learned, by his first seeing Brueghel The Elder’s painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” (never mind if that musee des beaux-arts was the one in Brussels). Archaic stuff we (starting-to-become) old fogeys swoon over.  And so, the trek going to 20 cours d’Albret where the museum is, began at the stop at Hotel de Ville tram station, the one close to St. Andre Cathedral, and from there a few minutes’ worth of walk to the gated museum.

Lolling on a bench, with the sculpture of a multicolor crocodile in the courtyard.

I recall Bong and I decided to just walk, after consulting a map because, either there was no tram servicing that part of town, or we didn’t know about it. Nevertheless we enjoyed the walk; Bordeaux, after all, is a “walking” city, and walking affords one the opportunity for creating impressions and memories of places and people one comes across. These are recollected, not necessarily always in tranquillity, and energizes writing/blogging.

A life-sized Apollo greets visitors in the foyer of the museum.

A broad stroke of European art is achieved through its impressive and extensive collections of paintings, drawings and sculptures. Some of the high wattage names on luminous displays are paintings by Veronese, Titian, Reubens, Delacroix, where Biblical and pagan-inspired paintings are featured side by side.

Veronese's "Holy Family and Saint Dorothy"
Jesus defends the penitent Magdalene.
Julien Michel Gue's "The Death of Patroclus"
Sebastiano Ricci's "Joseph in prison interprets the dream of Pharaoh's baker and the cupbearer."

There is no entrance fee to this museum; but across it, at the gallery, visitors should expect to pay a 5-EUR entrance fee to the temporary collection, which at the time, was featuring Matisse and Marquel’s letter-writing and some still-lifes by the former.

Across the street, the gallery serves up interesting temporary exhibitions.
In 2009, Matisse and Marquel's Correspondences were featured, along with a few prints and drawings.
Matisse' s Variation: Still life, fruits and flowers

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