Musée d’Orsay Retitles Marie-Guillemine Benoist Painting for ‘Black Models’ Show [Updated] -ARTnews

Marie-Guillemine Benoist, Portrait of Madeleine, 1800.


In honor of the exhibition “Black Models: From Géricault to Matisse,” which examines representations of the black figure in modern art, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris has retitled Marie-Guillemine Benoist’s Portrait d’une négresse (1800). It will be called Portrait of Madeleine, in reference to the name of the woman pictured in the work.

Denise Murrell, one of the show’s organizers, said of the painting in a statement, “For more than 200 years there has never been an investigation to discover who she was—something that was recorded at the time.”

She added that art history “has contributed to the construction of these figures as racial types as opposed to the individuals they were.”

The show debuted last year at the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University in New York, where it was titled “Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today.” The New York edition was solely curated by Murrell, who organized the Paris edition with Cécile Debray, director of the Musée de l’Orangerie; Stéphane Guégan, scientific advisor to the president of the Musée d’Orsay and Orangerie; and Orsay curators Isolde Pludermacher and Edouard Papet. Works by Delacroix, Gauguin, Picasso, Bonnard, Degas, and others also figure in the exhibition, which spans the early 19th century to the present.

Correction 2/28/19: A previous version of this article included incorrect information, sourced from a report by Agence France-Presse, regarding Manet’s Olympia. The painting will not be retitled Laure, after the black maid in the work. This article has been updated to reflect this. ARTnews regrets the error.

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