James Gurnery recently posted about the recent update to the Paris Musées website where they added 100,000+ images for download, many of them quite hi-res. It’s a wonderful and time-consuming site! I spent far too much time there today, but I highly recommend it. One of the things that I have found to be so interesting about it, is it has thousands of works that you don’t typically get to see in a museum, like sketches, color studies and works on paper.

Look at the variety of these images of works by the artist Leon Bonnat:

What a gorgeous little pencil/charcoal, ink and gouache figure drawing. The foreshortening on this is fantastic. I love how simple most of the form is laid out. Look at the little hands and how few lines he used.

Studies done while in RomePlans for ceiling decorationStudies after DaVinci

Studies from The Sistine Chapel after Michelangelo

A rough oil portrait

A moody self-portrait in charcoal

A killer portrait of a grumpy old guy (Victor Hugo)
A portrait of a lady who looks quite pleased to the fact that she is being painted along with some beautiful details

Look at the paint on the hand below!

More portraits with details I love this 3 color sketch! Looks like black, white and red on a grey toned canvas. It works!

This study of Victor Hugo on his death bed is killer. Look at how simply he rendered out his hair. It was just a scrub of tone and then a few strokes of grey to fill it in.

On to some other cool things! This is a canvas that has portraits of 45 of Delaroche’s students on it. The students would take on the task of painting another student in the class. What a cool tradition! I wish that I had done this in my college class. Here is the text from the entry about it:

This painting presenting a series of forty-five portraits of students from the workshop of Paul Delaroche (1797-1856) is part of the tradition of workshop portraits, where the students represented themselves. Thus, each of them painted their neighbor, making this multi-author painting a particularly interesting testimony to the painting of the romantic generation. If the authors are not known, five students have been identified, from left to right and from top to bottom: Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890), Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), Léon Dussart (1824-?), Cham (1819-1879) and François-Henri Nazon (1821-1902)

Alexander Cabanel’s study for PhaedraAnother Cabanel paintingA study by Jean-Paul LaurensAnother study by Laurens, this one is for his epic masterpiece in the pantheon in Paris.And here is what looks like an unfinished painting by Larens that was meant to commemorate the announcement of the new French Republic. It is signed, so maybe he was happy with it, but it is far less finished that much of his work and the building received much more love than the rest of the painting.

And here is a photo of the man himself at work, William Bouguereau! Look at the big ceramic full of brushes on the floor. It also looks like his model, who in the final painting is bearing a cross, is using an easel leaning on his shoulder as a stand-in. Also notice the taxidermied bird just suspended just behind Bouguereau. His hat is cool too 🙂

I think that this resource provides at the very least an intersting array of studies, photos and works by some extraordinary artists, but also insights into the working methods of artists that we don’t often get to see on display. I love seeing the range of images just from Bonnat!

So, go and spend some time on the site. Create an account (and you and switch the site to English) so you can save images too. If you find some fascinating discoveries while down the rabbit hole, I hope you will share them with me!