It is early March and together with a good friend I am visiting the Musée des Beaux Arts in Rennes. We both don’t like walking around a museum for hours, but one of the exhibitions is about ancient Egypt. That could be interesting and… the fact that we don’t have to pay an entry fee because it’s the first Sunday of the month. For free? Well, let’s also have a look at the other art. Why not? The museum might also have paintings by Picasso!
The museum was founded in 1794 during the French Revolution. The current building which now houses the museum was built between 1847 and 1855. The first collections came from churches and public buildings in Rennes. However, most of the paintings and sculptures that you see now in the museum are from the private collection of Christophe-Paul de Robien (1698-1756). At that time he was the President of the Parliament of Brittany.
‘This is unusual’, I say to my friend. ‘Look, a mummified baby crocodile!’. At least that’s what the piece of canvas 20 centimetres long must be. We look around further and see a real mummy, one with a human inside. It’s beautiful, this Egyptian art. Can you call it art? I don’t know, but anyhow, it’s interesting just like the statues of various Egyptian Gods. Some are only half an inch. Unbelievable that they were found by archaeologists.
After visiting ‘Egypt’ we walk to the other rooms of the museum. Oh my goodness, a painting that consists only of a black surface! But we also see paintings with bright colours, people and cheerful scenes, e.g. painted by Philippe de Champainge (1602-1674), a baroque painter of the French school. ‘Hey!’ I say to my friend. ‘There’s a Picasso!’. But she has already passed the founder of Cubism. ‘Stop for a moment, please’, I say again. ‘Do you know that Picasso almost died at birth? It seems that he got some cigar smoke in his small nostrils which made breathing very hard for the newborn baby.’ My friend shrugs. ‘So what?’, she says. ‘I prefer to look at a mummified crocodile.’ I ponder her words. Yes, she is right. I also prefer to look at that unknown baby without a name. Picasso gets enough attention.