One of the foremost salon painters of 19th century France, Alexandre Cabanel (18231889), will be featured in his first exhibition ever. In cooperation with Musée Fabre in Montpellier, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum
in Cologne will present over 60 works by a man who rose from the rank of a lowly carpenters son to become court painter to Napoleon III. The exhibition Alexandre Cabanel The Tradtion of Beauty can be seen from 4. February to 15. May 2011.
In order to give these graceful works by the last of the great salon painters just the right ambience, the Wallraf has secured the services of a distinguished compatriot of Cabanel: Star designer Christian Lacroix has been commissioned to design a special interior exclusively for the exhibition. Lacroix studied at the Academy of Arts in Montpellier the hometown of Cabanel and regards the painter as one of his all-time favourites.
Alexandre Cabanel began his training in fine art at the age of 17 in Paris. In 1844 he was exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon. His breakthrough first came when he turned his brush to mythological themes and with that to the nude. The best example we know of this is his magnum opus The Birth of Venus dating from 1863 a work of captivating beauty that now numbers among the highlights of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Apart from such powerful men as Napoleon III and Ludwig II of Bavaria, Cabanel also was very popular among the ladies of the aristocracy. They enjoyed having their portraits done by him.