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Modern art

The Plague in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts.

90 min visit

Museum of Fine Arts of Marseille
28 Oct → 31 Dec 2021
Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm. Closed on Monday.

« Although Michel Serre produced a large number of paintings, many of them have unfortunately disappeared. Biblical, mythological or historical scenes, the remaining canvases are preserved in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Marseille and in churches in the city and its region. Here are two of them. »

The collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille is full of treasures. In particular, two of the three large canvases by the French painter Michel Serre (1658-1733), painted one year after the great plague of 1720. Known for his religious paintings, he was also a major player in his city. As the city of Marseille was ravaged by this tragic event, Michel Serre distinguished himself by his actions: he was the commissioner of Saint-Ferréol, presided over the clearing of the district, gave his fortune to the most destitute and bought a chapel which he dedicated to Saint John of the Cross in the Carmelite church. Much more than a witness to the tragedy, Michel Serre was a pious and generous man. In 1721, he painted the view of the Cours and of the Hôtel de Ville de Marseille, major archives of the great plague. Alongside these paintings will be presented Saint Roch interceding the Virgin by Jacques-Louis David and The Genius of Immortality by Pierre Joseph Chardigny. The latter underline the importance of the commissions placed with artists by the city at the end of the 18th century to commemorate this unfortunate event.


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