Montpellier, France - January 2, 2019: architectural detail of the Fabre museum next to the Place de la Comedie where people pass on a winter day; Shutterstock ID 1628380093; your: Sloane Tucker; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI

Shutterstock / Pierre-Olivier

Musée Fabre

Top choice in Montpellier

Founded in 1825 by painter François-Xavier Fabre, this exceptional museum houses one of France’s richest collections of European art. The galleries collectively showcase the last 600 years of artistic activity in Europe; most of the big names are represented here. Recent renovations have transformed the museum into a light, airy and engaging space.

Highlights of the Old Masters section include three paintings by Rubens, a dreamy Venus and Adonis by Nicholas Poussin, and a collection of works by Jacques-Louis David. The Romantic section is strong on French artists – particularly Delacroix, Géricault and Corot – while Courbet, Monet, Degas and Delaunay are among the standouts of the modern section.

Of particular local interest are the works of Marseille-born artist Fréderic Bazille (1841–70), a close contemporary of Monet, Sisley and Manet. The artist has a whole room devoted to him: look out for his portrait of Renoir, seated on a chair with legs tucked up beneath him, and a moody portrait of the artist himself by a very young Monet. Two rooms are also devoted to French painter and sculptor Pierre Soulages, born in 1919 in Rodez.

The lavish mansion L’Hôtel de Cabrières-Sabatier d’Espeyran is attached to the museum.

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