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Before Museums Existed ... what were paintings for?

Two things we have noticed about the paintings in Strasbourg's Fine Arts Musem have led us to organise this exhibtion. Firstly, none was originally painted with the idea of placing it in a museum and secondly, their presentation in the museum has until now largely ignored their original setting. The kind of paintings that may come to mind, for example, are those done for religious buildings or to decorate fine houses, but these are far from being the only ones.

Nowadays, paintings like this are displayed side by side, on the same walls and often with the same lighting, but at the time, people did not see them in the same way at all. For examlple, while some paintings were made to be seen up close, others were seen from a distance, with special lighting. Some of the works exhibited here were not even intended to be seen by others at all. The examples chosen aim to give us a clearer idea of what this original setting was, showing what the paintings were in fact used for and how they were seen at the time when they were painted. We are thinking in particular of some of the sketches that we now find so appealing.

Mediation devices are being used to evoke these original contexts, with a layout based on artwork by Anna Griot to guide us along our visit. In addition, a publication is being produced to emphasize the importance of this hitherto neglected approach.

This exhibition enjoys the exceptional support of Eurométropole de Strasbourg.