The Petit Palais is a Parisian jewel close to the Champs-Élysés and the Seine. If you do not go tired of the sun, neither of the Parisian scenery, this is a much darker world that your adventuring in that morning. Here you are gone to discover the hidden face of Rome. Here, no grandiose city, sublimated by the glory of the papacy and of Christendom, it is vice, lust and misery that you discover once past the classical sculptures perfectly formed and representations on huge walls white town.
With 70 exceptional pieces with different representations of Bacchus, inventor and founder of wine and debauchery, you penetrate into a universe where the concept of pleasure and light are not the same. You lose your gaze in the decadent representations of the festivals of the band Bentvugehels (literally translated as “bands birds), artists who were celebrating the brotherhood of new members with festivities under the most complete orgy.
You observe through the paintings of Bartolomeo Manfredi, Pieter Van Laer, Leonart Bramet or others, these orgiastic scenes or violent that you know through the history books. Whether Italian or Spanish Dutch or French, each gave his view of the debauchery of the seventeenth century. You can observe prostitutes, witches or players whose lives seem frozen by the brush of artistes. More than an exhibition, it is an invitation to reflection of the living conditions of the Roman era, far from the idyllic idea that one can imagine.
Seduced, joining these Caravaggian scenes, you imagine yourself playing with your newly pilfered money in the most murky taverns or to get your future read by a gypsy before observing unsightly faces, finally more then lifelike. You even feel like that man out there on the painting is a “fica” to your attention. You turn your eyes to fall on stage brawl, men seem ready to fall in the exhibition to settle their differences. A little further courtesans, musicians and soldiers appear to be in daze, equivocal smiles on their faces.
We must get used to it, you’re struck by the insolence of painters, perfection of the features and strength of the composition. The artists themselves were fascinated by the faces of prostitutes and other beggars, these atypical life scenes but so common. It is through these representations both allegorical and naturalists that you discover for the first time in an exhibition, the face of Rome, terrible, frightening, vicious but seductive.