On a walk to the Dijon museum of fine arts…

The reopening of the Dijon museum a few months ago, after ten years of renovation, made me want to take a virtual tour, all the more so as, due to the confinement of the museum, the opportunity to walk around « in real life » is not really on the agenda.

A little history to begin with… In 1767, like many other French cities, Dijon, thanks to the initiative of the painter and sculptor François Devosge, set up a drawing school. As at the Royal Academy of Painting in Paris, the best students completed their artistic training in Rome, with the obligation, during their stay, to send their works to the school. This will be the nucleus of the museum’s future collections.

François Rude, Portrait of François Devosges, 1836

In 1781, the States of Burgundy decided to open a museum and ordered the construction of a new wing to house it, which would extend the palace of the Dukes of Burgundy. Indeed, the museum was integrated into the former medieval palace of the dukes, which later became the seat of the assembly of the States of Burgundy. The visit also allows you to discover the architectural interest of these historic buildings, whether it be the Bar Tower, the kitchens or the great hall of the Ducal Hotel.

The tower of Bar built from 1365 by Belin de Comblanchien
The palace kitchens built around 1430 by Philip the Great
The north facade of the palace. The large windows on the first floor correspond to the great hall. At the back, you can see the Philip the Geat tower which dominates the palace from its 46 meters.
The great hall with its monumental fireplace which today houses the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy.

The route opens on the first floor with a room dedicated to ancient art. The museum has a vast collection, including many objects from ancient Egypt. The Egyptian collection is particularly rich in the theme of funerary rites, through statuettes of deities, steles or statuettes representing the deceased, or through sarcophagi.

Statue of Merry, XVIIITh dynasty (1550-1290 BC)

This statue represents the deceased kneeling with hands raised in a gesture of adoration. He is holding on his knees a stele with the text of his prayer for the gods to help him make the journey to the world of the dead. It was to be placed in the tomb chapel.

Sarcophagus of Hor, Third interim period (1070-655 BC)

The sarcophagus is shaped like a mummy. It is entirely decorated with representations and texts from the Book of the Dead. It is presented with, on the right, many small amulets that were inserted between the strips of the mummified body. On the left, the small statuettes are « oushebtis », small servants who are supposed to work in the place of the deceased in the Beyond. At his feet are canopic vases in which the viscera were placed. They are decorated with the faces of the four sons of Horus (Amset with a human head, Hâpi with a baboon head, Douamoutef with a jackal head and finally, Kebehsénouf as a falcon).

The museum has an exceptional series of eleven Egyptian funerary portraits from the Roman period. Known as « Fayum portraits », they come from the excavations of the ancient city of Antinoupolis. These portraits, painted with encaustic (which uses melted wax to dilute the colours) on fig or sycamore wood, are made from nature, during the lifetime of the person depicted. They were intended to cover the face of the dead, placed on the shroud or wrapped in the mummy’s strips. These painted tablets, very realistic, are the oldest evidence of the art of the painted portrait.

Portrait of a young boy,
Portrait of a bearded man and of a woman

The museum also has a very fine collection of Greek ceramics from the Campana collection. All the forms and techniques of ceramics are represented over a period from the 8th to the 6th century BC.

Hydrie, VIth BC

A hydria is a vase used to collect and transport water. It is a ceramic with black figures on a red background. It represents on its belly an episode from mythology: The tripod dispute between Hercules and Apollo. Hercules (here visible with his club and dressed in lion skin) wanting to have his own oracle, had stolen from Apollo the tripod used in Delphi to return the oracles. It will take the intervention of Zeus to separate them and return the tripod to Apollo.

Bowl to red figures on a black background, after 530 BC

( to be continued…)

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