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France's Musee d'Orsay opens major show of 19th century paintings at new museum in China
A journalist takes photos of art work at a press preview of a major exhibition from France's Musee d'Orsay of paintings from the 19th century at the new modern art museum in Shanghai. The Musee d'Orsay opened the exhibition on November 16 with many of the 87 paintings by artists in the French Naturalism movement, including works by Gustave Courbet and Jean-Francois Millet being shown in China for the first time. AFP PHOTO/Peter PARKS.
SHANGHAI (AFP).- France's Musee d'Orsay on Friday opened a major exhibition of paintings from the 19th century at the new modern art museum in China's commercial hub of Shanghai, museum officials said Wednesday.

Many of the 87 paintings by artists in the French Naturalism movement, including works by Gustave Courbet and Jean-Francois Millet, are being shown in China for the first time, exhibition organisers told a news conference.

"It's a very large exhibition. We have sent large format paintings and we have sent very famous paintings by Courbet and Millet," Guy Cogeval, president of the Musee d'Orsay, told AFP.

"A lot of them are shown in China for the first time," he said.

Chinese media has put the value of the paintings in the exhibition at 185 million euros ($236 million), though officials declined to confirm that figure.

Shanghai's China Art Museum said the show, which was assembled in 11 months, is the largest international exhibition hosted by the museum since it opened in October.

The China Art Museum is expecting 3,000 visitors a day for the exhibition, which runs more than three months to February next year, officials said.

"There is a link between this exhibition and China today," said Xavier Rey, a curator for the painting department of the Musee d'Orsay.

Naturalist painting in the second half of the 19th century featured realistic depictions of everyday life, but it was also a reaction to tremendous social and industrial change, he said.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is Millet's "The Gleaners", which depicts three women searching for wheat after the harvest.

The China Art Museum is heavily weighted towards Chinese art, but one floor is devoted to foreign works on loan from foreign museums.

The exhibition "Millet, Courbet and French Naturalism" will return to France next year in time for an October showing at the Musee d'Orsay, said Olivier Simmat, the museum's head of international affairs.

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November 18, 2012

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