What to see at the Palais des Beaux-arts in Lille
Have you heard of the Palais des Beaux-arts museum? It is one of the biggest museum in France in terms of the size of the collection! Here are my must-see artworks if you visit this beautiful museum !
1. The building in itself
The PBA Lille building is very beautiful, the museum is built around an atrium and the collection spreads over 3 levels.
The first remarkable artwork is located in the entrance. It greets us as soon as we enter, they are humongous chandeliers created by Gaetano Pesce created in 1997. The artist used two 7.5 metres oculi to bring light into the hallway. They weight 3 tons each, an enormous weight for a glass sculpture! The chandeliers required 12,000 coloured glass tiles on a steel frame.
If you are interested in discovering more works by Gaetano Pesce, here is a link to vous intéresse voici son œuvre !
Delacroix is the master of 19th century romanticism. We are lucky enough to have the painting of Medea furious and its esquisse! This allows us to see the progression of the painter in his process.
The story: Medea, daughter of the king of Colchis, helps Jason to seize the Golden Fleece. She abandons her family for him, killing her brother whose remains she scatters in the sea, knowing that her father, who is chasing her, will stop to collect them. She lives peacefully with Jason for a few years and gives him two children. One day the king of Corinth offers to marry his daughter, Creuse, to thank him for a service he has rendered. Jason accepts and Medea worries about the future of her children. Mad with grief and rage, Medea decides to slit the throats of their two sons.
The painting: The tension that precedes the crime is intense. Medea knows she is being chased, she half turns, her gaze is worried, her pose is unstable as her sons try to escape as if they knew the fate that awaited them. Her face is crossed by a shadow, the inverted shadow of the cave, as if to represent the ‘madness’ that blinds her.
3. The House of Parliament painted by Monet
❤️I am a big fan of Monet and his work on Light. Here Parliament is depicted from the roof of St Thomas Hospital on the other side of the Thames. For several weeks Monet painted from the terrace of the hospital. He depicted Parliament in a ghostly way. Here the subject is not architecture but colour. Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower are tiny compared to the Victoria Tower.
The sky is golden pink, like a sky full of clouds, real clouds or clouds of sulphurous pollution from the factories. The reflection of the sun on the water is superb, a lot of little touches to make the reflections dance on the water. The harmonies of blue, green, yellow, pink and blue are extraordinary and there is a quietness that comes out of this painting that is absolutely incredible.
4.The Census at Bethleem
❤️ This painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger represents a theme that he painted many times, since we currently have 13 versions of this painting today. It is a theme he borrowed from his father, Brueghel the elder.
It is a scene depicting the Virgin Mary and Joseph coming to be counted in their village in Bethlehem, as was the custom. However, the painter has chosen to depict a region that is familiar to him, with a typical Flanders landscape in winter and therefore under snow filled with typical Flemish house with a gabled front wall (also called sparrow-stepped).
The figures are dressed in the fashion of Brughel’s time. He chose to place these figures, who lived 1600 years before him, in a contemporary setting, as if the scene had taken place in his own time! The date of the census is not known, but the Bible tells us that it is December 24, which means that Mary is about to give birth!
It is the amount of detail that makes the painting exciting. There is a crowd converging towards the inn. People have come to pay their taxes. Some pay with coins, others with chickens, eggs, a sheaf of wheat, a pig….
To the right of the composition, children are playing a sort of ice hockey, others are sledging in what seems to be a huge ox jaw and someone is stealing salads (he has a yellow cape).
5. “The Beakful” by Millet
By choosing the theme of rural life, Millet is part of the Naturalist movement, which favours a direct, realistic vision of nature and the peasant world. The artist is fascinated by the relentless struggle of the peasants to ensure their subsistence, but this does not lead to misery, and the painting exudes a great deal of gentleness and tenderness.
The light that floods the stones of the house and the garden and makes the air vibrate has something almost impressionistic about it. There is something deeply reassuring about the crouching mother. And the harmony of blue, green and pink tones brings freshness and cheerfulness. The children seem to be cheering the youngest one as he tells the story of the beakful and the figure of the father as he works in the vegetable garden.
See you soon at the museum
I hope you enjoyed this article on the most beautiful paintings at the PBA museum in Lille. Did you know of these paintings? Tell us all about it in the comments! If you want to know more, book a guided tour of the museum with us! And as usual, I’ll leave you by saying be curious!