Published  10/05/2001

Settecento in Lille

Lille is suddenly not terminus but interchange: in bold on the travelmap, gratis Rem Koolhas, the doyen of Euro-architects. The dramatic new interchange complex now allows us to stop, or ‘alight here’ as genteel Britrail signs used to read. The once ailing Palais des Beaux Arts, Lille, is also greatly expanded. The exhibition Settecento in Lille prefigures, it is hoped, many forthcoming exhibitions by Arnaud Brejon de Lavegnee, a star lately of the Louvre. Indeed, this is the fulfilment of a curatorial scenario which de Lavegnee began some 12 years ago, with the exhibition he created there, Seicento, on the preceding 17th century. Now he has selected some 110 of the most beautiful paintings of the 18th century to be found all over France. Mostly, these works have emerged from regional sources.

This exhibition at regenerated Lille is, all in all, a celebration of the regional museum as it has indeed evolved. Fortuitously, it makes a perfect complement to the Royal Academy’s current show ‘the Genius of Rome’. If the latter is comprehensive to 1630, Settecento actually marks the grand fruition of the Baroque age, arguably commencing around 1670 and closing around the l800s. Claim is made at the Royal Academy that they are revealing ‘Caravaggio’s century’: Lille avers that the l8th century is shown to be that of Tiepolo. Alight from Waterloo, at Lille, and be enlightened.

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