To mark the 172nd birthday of Cézanne today, we take a look at an exhibition featuring his work here at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.
French Art Exhibition, Brighton, 1910
Given the location of Brighton History Centre, on the first floor of Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, it’s always a pleasure to deal with enquiries that relate to the history of the museum or gallery itself. Recently, we were asked about an exhibition of modern French art that took place in 1910. We hold a copy of the exhibition catalogue in our archives and, fortuitously, a report written after the event by museum director Henry D Roberts.
The exhibition was the first of a series to present ‘the modern work of some continental country [sic]’, and set out to display examples of all the different schools of contemporary painting in France. Featuring work by artists including Monet, Degas, Matisse and Cézanne, it is also thought to have been the first opportunity to see the work of post-impressionists such as Gauguin outside France. Some of the paintings were borrowed from private collections but others were for sale. ‘A Storm at Sea’ by Claude Monet would have cost £320 (about £18,250* in today’s money), but work by other artists was available from around £20 (£1,140*).
The introduction to the exhibition programme was written by Robert Dell, Paris correspondent for art journal The Burlington Magazine, and in it he wrote that: ‘Brighton is to be congratulated on the possession of a Director of its Public Art Gallery sufficiently enterprising to conceive so ambitious a scheme.’ Clearly, this show was quite a coup for the town.
In subsequent years, temporary exhibitions of art from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Belgium, Japan, Serbia, Holland and Italy were held here in Brighton, drawing visitors to the town as well as treating local residents to the work of some of the most exciting artists in the world, right on their doorstep.
* Source: The National Archives Currency Converter
Kate Elms, Brighton History Centre Officer