Sunday, September 14, 2014

Musee des Beaux Arts Dijon

The Musee des Beaux Arts is located in the palace that belonged to the Dukes of Burgundy. The oldest part aside from the kitchen is the guard room which was originally the dining hall during the reign of Philip the Good, it now houses the tombs of Philip the Bold and John the Fearless. These tombs are quite elaborate with carved alabaster mourners surrounding the recumbent figures.

This is a large museum with a varied and interesting collection of art and sculpture. It is one of the oldest in France dating back to the ancien regime, though it only opened to the public in 1799. The collection benefited greatly from confiscated works from religious foundations and fleeing aristocrats. The setting is particularly attractive with large windows and lots of natural lighting. There are some splendid examples of fine arts as well including beautiful wall paneling, a lovely Boule wall clock and a commode by Bernard Van Risenburgh in imitation Chinese lacquer. A nice collection of early Venetian glass and some nice pieces of Faience are also on display.

Since 1990,  a lot of money has gone into the restoration of their very fine early German and Swiss works including a four panel retable called the Altar of St Margaret by the Master of Coburg. There is also another wonderful altar piece by the Swiss Artist know as the Master of the Carnation.

From the School of Fontainbleau there is a painting "Woman at her Toilet" which is a charming painting of a pretty woman wearing little but her jewelery and pearls. Another French painting is the monumental Simeon holding the baby Jesus by Philippe de Champagne. A bench facing it so that you can sit and enjoy listening to your tour guide describe it in detail.

In the Salle des Statues,  is a beautiful statue of Hebe by Francois Rude. It is one of the cornerstones of the collection here. The collection includes a nice selection of 
Italian paintings as well, Lorenzo Lotto, Guardi, Battoni, Reni, Veronese, Basano and Titian.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Rubens and the Frans Hals portrait of a young man.

You can visit the kitchens either on the way in or on the way out. They are in the courtyard. Built in 1430 they have truly amazing fireplaces. You can imagine the magnitude of the banquets that were served from this kitchen.


The museum was at the time of our visit open from 10-6.  It did close for lunch. There is an English headphone tour which added greatly to our enjoyment, though the works are subtitled in English. Of course there was a gift shop but it was small.

The Impressionist Galleries as well as the modern sculpture galleries were closed when we were there in January.

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