Looking Toward an Inner Light: Portraits from the Paul Mellon Collection

Request Program

Portraits reveal much about the history and culture of the people portrayed. They can tell us who they were, how they lived, and what they thought about themselves. This exhibition focuses on the work of eleven 19th-century French painters who worked during the first era in which photography was used as a portrait medium. The twelve photographic reproductions of paintings from the VMFA Mellon Collection offer the viewer an opportunity to explore the ways in which these artists broke with tradition by depicting real people as they existed in the contemporary world.

From Gustave Courbet’s robust, realistic painting of Gustave Chaudey, Impressionist portraits by Edgar Degas and Berthe Morisot, to Paul Cézanne’s emotionally intense portrait of Victor Chocquet and Picasso’s Jester on Horsebackfrom his Rose Period, these artists created images of real people filtered through their unique artistic styles. While this exhibition is SOL-based and perfect for K-12 students, anyone interested in 19th-century French portraiture will find this colorful range of works fascinating.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has a variety of exhibitions available for statewide travel. For additional information on VMFA and its statewide resources call 804.204.2681.

LIMITED Security
Loan Period: 4 to 6 Weeks
Fee: Free

Code Number: GA-112
Size of panels: Varying up to 16” X 20”
Running Feet: Approx.20′
Boxed weight: 60 lbs.

To supplement the exhibition, we recommend the following related resources available through the Statewide Program. For more information or to schedule a speaker, workshop or media resource, call 804.204.2681or email edpartner@vmfa.museum.


Claude Monet
Degas and the Dance
Edgar Degas
From Monet to Van Gogh: A History of Impressionism
Impressionist Paintings
The Impressionist Surface
Little Dancer Aged 14
The Mystery of Picasso
Paris 1900
Paul Cezanne
Picasso: The Man and His Work Pts. 1&2
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Portrait Drawing
Portraits: People
13 Beautiful People: Filmed Portraits by Andy Warhol

VHS Cassettes:
Degas: Beyond Impressionism
Impression: Painting Quickly
Impressionists on the Seine
What is Impressionism?