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In the flesh. Paul Richer, art and medicine

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En chair et en os. Paul Richer, l’art et la médecine

Chartres, Musée des Beaux-Arts, from 16 March to 16 June 2024.

As we wrote last December (see article), the recent rediscovery in its reserves of a group of sculptures by Paul Richer prompted the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Chartres to devote a retrospective to the artist. This was a major first, but the limited space available for temporary exhibitions meant that it had to be divided into two successive parts, each with its own catalogue. Two decades of sculpture at work were first unveiled, with a panel of some forty sculptures, drawings and decorative objects from the 1880s and 1890s, before the production of drawings, sculptures and works relating to the medical field in which Paul Richer, a renowned anatomist and neurologist, practised, took centre stage. These two bodies of work are permeable to one another, and it is sometimes difficult to reconcile them because they are presented separately, although this does not make them any less remarkable.


1. Paul Richer (1849-1933)
Art and Science before Minerva,
Salon of 1930
Plaster - 250 x 150 x 74 cm
Chartres, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : JD
See the image in its page
2. Paul Richer (1849-1933)
Portrait of Louis Pasteur, Salon of 1902
Plaster - 73 x 53 x 42 cm
Chartres, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Chartres, Musée des Beaux-Arts
See the image in its page

Some sixty works have been brought together for this second section, this time covering Richer’s entire career, from the first sketches executed at the front of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 where, as a young medical student, he enlisted as an assistant surgeon, to the monumental plaster project presented at the 1930 Salon, three years before his death, The Art and Science before Minerva (ill. 1), which he described as "my sculpted will", an allegory of the interweaving of art and science that presided over his work. It forms part of the small monographic nucleus preserved by Chartres following the donation made by the artist’s widow in 1934, which also includes, in this second…

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