Unknown Artist: (French or Italian School) Signature lower right corner, “Coriolanus and Veturia”, oil on canvas, 36.25″ x 53″
Fabre was a French Neoclassical painter, printmaker, and collector. He was trained by the painter Jean Coustou (1719–1791) before entering the studio of the great Jacques-Louis David in 1783. His career as a history painter began brilliantly when, in 1787, he won the Prix de Rome for Nebuchadnezzar Ordering the Execution of Zedekiah’s Children. This early success was consolidated by the four years he spent at the Académie de France in Rome and by the enthusiastic reception of his Death of Abel (1790) at the Salon of 1791. The political upheavals in France forced Fabre to spend most of his life in Italy, where he gained the patronage of several wealthy aristocrats.
While many 19th century European artists were eager to transcend the conventional Neoclassical history painting, Fabre remained a lifelong devotee to David, as evidenced by the classic subject matter and sharp realism.
Musée Fabre – a museum in Montpellier, a city in southern France
The town of Montpellier was given thirty paintings in 1802, which formed the basis of a modest municipal museum. Under the Napoleonic Empire, the museum moved between various temporary sites. In 1825, the town council accepted a large donation of works from Fabre and the museum was installed in the refurbished Hôtel de Massillian. The museum officially opened its doors on December 3, 1828. Fabre’s generosity led others to follow his example, notably Antoine Valedau who donated his collection of Dutch and Flemish masters to the city. On the death of Fabre in 1837, a legacy of more than a hundred pictures and drawings completed the collection.
Beginning in 2003, the museum underwent a major renovation, which was completed in January 2007. It is one of the main sights of Montpellier and close to the city’s main square. The museum’s national importance is recognized by it being classified as a Musée de France by the French Ministry of Culture.
Paolo Veronese, The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565-67, oil on canvas, 236.2 x 474.9 cm (The National Gallery, London)
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