In the Galleries: Emile Friant, the Last Naturalist?

by Matthew Innis |

Émile Friant (1863-1932)
La Toussaint, 1888
oil on canvas
254 x 334 cm

MUSÉE DES BEAUX-ARTS DE NANCY, Nancy, France – When Émile Friant was a young man, the French government was in the midst of a social program aimed at bringing art to every corner and tier of the nation.  Most beneficiaries of the program learned an appreciation for art, while some among them found their true calling.  Small, provincial towns took great pride in their talented young people, and when a student showed exceptional ability, the townspeople made every effort to provide the funding so that student could go to the capital and train in earnest.  In the best of situations, these young artists went on to gain success, bringing great recognition and honor to their hometowns, while never forgetting the people that helped them to reach their goal.

Friant never forgot the people of Nancy, and Nancy, thankfully, has not forgotten its talented son.  Since his death in 1932, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy has maintained Friant’s studio collection, and in a new exhibition scheduled to open this fall, they plan to offer many works by Friant not commonly seen, including engravings, student académies, recently restored works, and new acquisitions.  Two hundred works are scheduled to be on view in total, though this number also includes some contemporary work inspired by Friant.

The full list of works is not yet publicly available, but certain iconic works – La Toussaint, Jeune Nancéienne dans un paysage de neige, Les Amoureux, La Douleur – are expected to be there, as is Les Odalisques au Sultan, a painted sketch representing the artist’s rare experiments in Orientalism.

Émile Friant, le dernier naturaliste? opens November 4th, 2016, and runs through February 27th, 2017.  For more information, please visit

Hopefully, the museum will produce a catalog to accompany the exhibit, and should they, I will let you know.

Les Odalisques au Sultan, 1881
oil on canvas
33 x 40 cm


Les Buveurs or Le Travail du lundi, 1884
oil on wood
44 1/2  x 43 cm


Idylle sur la Passerelle, or Les Amoureux, or Soir d’automne, 1888
oil on canvas
111 x 145 cm


La petite barque, 1895
oil on wood
49 1/2 x 61 cm


Intérieur d’atelier or Le sculpteur Bussière dans l’atelier, 1884
oil on canvas
90 1/2 x 62 1/2 cm


Jeune Nancéienne dans un paysage de neige, 1887
oil on canvas
46 x 37 cm


Le Pain, 1894
oil on canvas
118 x 104 cm


Devant la psyché, 1912


La Douleur, 1898
oil on canvas
242 x 364 cm



    I spoke with the people who are organizing this exhibition a few months ago and they told me they’re going to produce a catalog.

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