Books and writing

Carolingian Treasures, the exhibition

The Carolingian book was a political instrument used for uniting the empire, which placed it at the heart of a vast intellectual and artistic movement. Through the pages of the most ancient preserved western manuscripts and the bindings of goldsmiths, the virtual exhibition is an account of the production conditions for manuscripts at the time of Charlemagne, of the movement of artists and books, and the essential role played by the princes in terms of patronage. The feature puts the Carolingian book in the historical, intellectual, spiritual and political context of the time and shows the different functions of the book, its multiple uses, as well as the artistic and intellectual attention which it enjoyed.
The developments are discussed across several themes: the Carolingian book symbolised the power of Charlemagne and the basis of medieval culture; the specificities of the Carolingian setting; the Caroline script; the Carolingian Renaissance; reading and writing under Charlemagne. Three emblematic manuscripts can be perused in the form of digital facsimile: the Gellone Sacramentary in the Merovingian style, the Drogon Sacramentary with its amazing historiated initials and the Poems of Prudence. Finally, the references – chronology, glossary, anthology, bibliography –, notes and educational suggestions are provided for the use of internet users, teachers and pupils.
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Torah, Bible, Koran: the exhibition

The exhibition is a chance for visitors to read or reread the founding texts from the three monotheistic religions through a presentation of some quite exceptional manuscripts: Essene fragments from the Dead Sea, Hebrew manuscripts celebrating the flight from Egypt, illustrated bibles from the Middle Ages, from Gutenberg and Luther, etc. The feature dwells on the multiple facets of these books and highlights the specificities of the three traditions. The major founding figures – Adam, Muhammad, Abraham, Moses, Mary, Jesus... – are discussed in a narrative and examined with regard to the three traditions and history. Insights into the writing of the holy text and an iconographic comparison are also provided. Finally, there are audio-visual interviews, teaching ideas, resources and iconographic techniques available for the benefit of internet users but also to enable teachers to tackle religious issues.
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Comics before Comics, the exhibition

The site is all about the history of the comic strip in the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages which is explored in a feature covering five different themes: the reign of the image in the twentieth century; the confused origins of the comic strip; the story in sequences of images from the eleventh to the fifteenth century; the processes used for page layout and the sound in images. This last part concerns in particular speech balloons and other "bubbles". Three hundred images from the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France form a valuable iconographic feature which is the backbone to the display, supplemented by the detailed exploration of two documents to be browsed: the Bible of Etienne Harding, from the twelfth century and the Roman de Fauvel, from the 19th. Both come with exploration aids and commentaries. The Bible belongs to the Dijon municipal library; the Roman de Fauvel to the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
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China, Empire of the Brush Stroke: the exhibition

The exhibition has on display a selection of one hundred and thirty outstanding Chinese works from the 5th to 19th century. The feature covers four themes: calligraphy; the unique brush stroke which is also part of painting; the relationships that the three fundamental teachings in China – Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism – have with this brush stroke art. Finally it examines the extension of this art, notably thanks to the printing press, in illustrated albums. References offer several deeper insights into Chinese writing. Close-ups on a theme or a prestigious manuscript provide the visitor with an insight into the work of the calligrapher by outlining the eight strokes of the "eternity" character, or by exploring the manuscripts which have been preserved in the Dunhuang caves. A "scholars’ pavilion" is home to bibliographies, citations, iconographic resources and anthologies of texts from contemporary experts on China. An introduction to Master Fan Zeng, in the form of a series of short films, bears witness to the pulsating tradition of the scholars with a modern day contemporary calligrapher.
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The Art of the Arabic Book, the exhibition

The online tour provides the essential ingredients for understanding the Islamic civilization which was built around books – in particular the first among them, the Koran. But it also offers a chance to have a wider look at cultural and scientific areas. The exhibition presents, through a hundred or so images, the diversity of the Arabic book – from the first manuscripts to the books of artists; &ndash from an aesthetic as well as a technical angle. The exhibition looks in closer detail at the papyrus, specific scripts, calligraphy, the art of the copyist, decors, etc. These in-depth examinations are themselves supplemented by a rich iconography assembled in flipbooks, by means of references – maps, chronology, etc.; &ndash and by succinct explanations of the Arab world through its culture. There are teaching ideas to help teachers and students discover the Arabic alphabet, as well as the religions, the scientific and literary traditions, and geographical and cultural frontiers of the Arab world.
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Masters of the European Comic Strip, the exhibition

The site is a chance to find out about the great masters of European comic strips through a hundred or so pages. Three thematic displays explore the major trends in European comic strips, the main heroes at work and finally, the techniques of the comic strip. Several pages can be explored in minute detail such as Mr Vertpre and Melle d’Espagnac from Töpffer or The leaning child by Schuiten and Peeters. The visit also offers references in the form of biographies, a glossary and bibliographic discussions.
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Persian Splendours, the exhibition

The virtual exhibition displays a selection of the most beautiful Persian manuscripts from the Bibliothèque nationale de France with its examination of the historical context, the origins, the creation within the major schools, the literary genres, illustrations, the technique and the role of patrons. Four close-ups provide in-depth information on the major periods, the techniques, the literary genres, as well as on the schools and the artists who are part of them. A full feature devoted to the Five Poems of Nezâmi, which is a masterpiece of Persian literature from the Middle Ages, provides an insight into the art of the grand master of the novel in verse. In addition the tour has references in the form of a glossary, a bibliography, a chronology and a map.
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Writers and storytellers

The Legend of King Arthur, the exhibition

The virtual exhibition is a tour in the form of images of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The site takes the form of a journey through the collections about Arthur from the BnF, from the municipal library of Rennes, the media centre of Troyes and the Château of Chantilly. It explores six themes: the legend; the wonders; the power and royalty; chivalry; the Grail and finally courtly love. There are digital facsimiles of the most beautiful manuscripts for listening to an account of the main episodes or for examining images and illuminated pages in minute detail. The close ups provide greater details of certain aspects of the legend: the history of the texts; the main characters; the spirit of the places; the symbolic objects. There is also a feature all about the first writer of the French language: Chrétien de Troyes. The pedagogical explorations include a more light-hearted tour for 8-12 year olds, with ideas for teachers, a writing module "in the style of Marie de France" and a downloadable role play game. A reading section includes a selection of texts, bibliographies, corpus of texts which have been digitized on Gallica and contributions from conference attendees on Arthurian Society.
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Children's Books, the exhibition

The virtual exhibition and its feature offer a journey through the history of books for children seen through a very rich iconography. What has been the relationship between children and books since the Middle Ages? How have books grown with children over the years? What issues are facing this sort of literature? Alongside the material that is provided for adults to consider and the numerous works for browsing which have been selected from the books of our grand-mothers, a large part of the site is devoted to children: interactive alphabet books such as Babar, games for putting pages together using different alphabet books from the collections of the BnF. There’s a snakes and ladders game which is a light-hearted tour through the literature of youth, in partnership with publishers of children’s’ books.
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Homer, in the footsteps of Ulysses: the exhibition

This website is an invitation to explore the world of Homer following the travels of Ulysses and to browse the Iliad and the Odyssey, which were metaphorical stories all about human adventure and the melting pot for all the forms of our literature. The feature contains the necessary references for appreciating Greek culture, the sources and the legacy of the Homeric works. A number of close-ups examine themes such as the epic, the oral tradition, the gods of Olympus, the Homeric heroes and heroines, the Trojan War or the vision of the Homeric world through the shield of Achilles. An interactive map of the Mediterranean sea charts the journey of Ulysses, with a summary of each episode and offers an insight into the Homeric civilization. There’s also a reading room for exploring more, a rich iconography sorted by theme in several flipbooks, as well as workshops and educational suggestions. Teaching notes can be downloaded on the site.
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Sartre, the exhibition

The virtual exhibition is a way of rediscovering the philosophy of freedom, which is a symbol of all that is intellectually engaged and passionate about literature through three key points: freedom; commitment; fraternity. The theme is enhanced by a rich iconography of original manuscripts, newspaper articles, photographs, etc. A more detailed examination of the manuscripts and the theatre as well as the biography of the writer, the questions on literature, of the imagination and commitment are provided by close-ups and a feature. Seven audio-visual interviews of individuals who were close to Sartre in various respects as well as chronological milestones and a bibliography of the writer are also available online.
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Émile Zola, the exhibition

The exhibition looks at the manuscripts, printed documents, advertising posters and photographs, and through the world of the writer. The site provides access to large excerpts from the preparatory works of Zola to the cycle of the Rougon-Macquart, and more particularly to the Assommoir and Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies’ Paradise). There are investigative notes offering a sociological approach to the period, whilst the plans, notes on the language and on the characters or sketches delve into literary production. Major close-ups offer some thoughts on the topics which influenced Zola: "his" Paris, the department stores, advertising and the Dreyfus Affair. It’s a portrait of the writer seen from several angles. Several audio-visuals are also provided to improve the digital experience. Finally there are the teaching Ideas, which come with by downloadable information packs, to encourage students to compare the intentions of Zola as they appear in the preparatory features and the way in which these intentions take shape in the novel.
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Émile Zola's Ladies’ Paradise: the exhibition

The exhibition in images devoted to the Ladies’ Paradise is based on the documentation collected by Zola before he wrote his novel, and discusses the history of the large department stores and the birth of the consumer society in the Paris of the Second Empire, a city which was being revolutionized by the work of Baron Haussmann.
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Victor Hugo, the Ocean-Man: the exhibition

With its more than 500 drawings and handwritten pages, the virtual exhibition reveals a modern and "visionary" work, which is literary, graphic as well as political. The feature looks at five themes: the ocean, the voyage – whether it is the trip itself, exile, or moving from one field to another, from the tiny to the huge –, the literary vision, the graphic vision constantly in search of new experiments, and the political vision of the writer committed to the public man. Each theme contains an audio-visual lasting three minutes which serves as an introduction to the subject. The iconography of these films can also be viewed with its commentary. On line educational features explore themes such as the death penalty, the graphic experience, the sea and voyages. They are an invitation to find out about the visionary writer and his struggles for freedom.
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Fairy Tales, the exhibition

The virtual exhibition retraces the history of the tales using a hundred or so images and is a way for the internet visitor of travelling through fairyland. The feature takes an in-depth look at the three following themes: from the oral to the written; the ingredients of the tale; the tale and its variants. There are two close-ups on The Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. Reading tips are given through an anthology of various texts ranging from Freud to Bettelheim, from the Brothers Grimm to Claude Levi-Strauss. The illustrators have created a rich iconography and there is a module for writing tales and bringing together the ingredients of a story. There are also teaching ideas which enable teachers and pupils to work on the structure of the tale, its ingredients and its variants.
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Marcel Proust, Writing and the Arts: the exhibition

This virtual exhibition, which is very richly illustrated, endeavours, through manuscripts, documents, objects and tables, to uncover the origin of the work of the writer. It is also a chance to appreciate the cultural historical and family context which was part of Proust’s life, to follow his studies in writing, to analyze the three major creative figures who appear in his work, Elstir, Vinteuil, Bergotte and to get to the very heart of the novel In Search of Lost Time. There is a feature developped with Gallica (the BnF digital library) which provides additional information on the Proust project, on the making of the Search and allows to browse the entire Proust collection, therefore offering a digital exploration of "Finding Time Again".
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History of representations

The 14-18 War, the exhibition

The date is 28 June 1914: the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria has been assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist. This tragic event was to lead to a summer with a difference. The peasants would be working in the fields, and the workers in the factories. The privileged few would still be holidaying in Deauville or on the Riviera. At the same time on 23 July, Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia. The politicians, diplomats, as well as public opinion of the time seemed scarcely worried: it was a regional crisis, which had to be resolved like the many flashpoints preceding it, by a peace conference. In Paris, the newspapers were more interested in the Caillaux affair. The Kaiser was taking part in sea regattas. However a number of rather more perceptive people were alarmed: Jean Jaures spoke "of teetering on the edge of the abyss". The news that was unfolding was more and more disturbing... a week later, on 30 July, Russia mobilized its armed forces. The war machine had been stirred into action, and it would no longer be possible to stop it. A game which was based on alliances would lead Europe into a war that although brutal, people thought would be brief... and so began "the drunkenness of cries of joy on the way to the slaughterhouse" in the words of Stefan Zweig, even if the desire to fight it out was not typical of the people who were by and large rather serious and resigned. By the time August had arrived, it was clear just how extremely violent the conflict was going to be as Europe was plunged into total industrial war.
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Games for Princes and Paupers, the exhibition

This site about the games of the past, as well as those used by princes and those by "paupers" teaches us that games have always been associated with pleasure, but also with danger. Alongside the manuals on rules and strategy, on the mathematical, philosophical and moral treaties, the exhibition is home to a rich iconography containing its games of chance and strategy, the learning games and finally the money games which were all the rage in the court of the King in the eighteenth century and in certain Parisian gaming houses.
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Heroes, from Achilles to Zidane, the exhibition

The site is all about the making of heroes, which bear all the hallmarks of the societies which create them whether it be an Achilles, Superman, Lucie Aubrac or Lancelot! The feature studies the hero in a historical perspective as something that has been constructed and the product of a speech and questions the place of women in this world or even, the figure of the hero in literature. The close ups with their audio commentaries are a way of following the adventures of Alexander the Great and of Sir Lancelot through some quite outstanding manuscripts. There are also some insights into the Homeric heroes and heroines. There are reference points for checking their place in history. Demonstrations and educational suggestions can also be downloaded on the site. Above all there’s a table with details on the heroes and an in-depth insight into the figure of Joan of Arc. There are also role-play situations which are very much in line with the theme.
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Enlightenment – a Heritage for Tomorrow : the exhibition

The virtual exhibition is a chance to revisit the values which the eighteenth century has left us for promoting the debate today. Having explained the spirit of the Enlightenment, the feature looks once more at the principles and ideals that characterized it, their influence in the world and their effect today. There are numerous audio-visual interviews with intellectuals and comic strip cartoonists, which highlight the relevance today of this heritage. In addition to the teaching notes which can be downloaded there are thought-provoking study ideas on the concepts of freedom of the individual, of sovereignty of the people, of the plurality of cultures, and identity.
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Medieval Bestiary, the exhibition

The virtual exhibition is a journey through the illuminated manuscripts, focussing on the animals of the Bible, the bestiaries and encyclopaedias, the world of fables and satire, etc. , showing how, in the Middle Ages, the said animal would incarnate, teach and symbolize. The feature expands upon the image of the animal within the manuscripts through some outstanding illustrations. Using the flipbooks once can "enter" a number of manuscripts such as the Livre de chasse (The Hunting Book) by Gaston Phebus, the Grand traité de Fauconnerie, (The great falconry treatise) the Livre des oiseaux, (The book of birds) etc.
The Bestiary is divided up by type of animal, through iconographic pages and audio-visuals. There are also games and educational demonstrations for providing teachers with different ideas: the Roman de Renart (The Reynard Novel) and the universe of fables; the bestiary or the sanctimonious role of a universe of animals designed to be like man; hybrid animals and other fabulous animals. There is also a game which allows children to create their own monster and to give it features like medieval bestiaries; another, to explore all the expressions of the French language which are based on animal figures.
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The sea, Terror and Fascination: the exhibition

The virtual exhibition, which is richly illustrated, comes with a five part feature: the sea, for so long a mystery; the angers of the sea; the wonders of the sea; the sea in artistic creation; the modern-day threats. The documentary features introduced by the audio-visuals provide close-ups on various subjects, such as the medieval sea, the gods and the Greek heroes, the sea monsters, etc. As part of a writing workshop which is presented by the writer François Bon there are six activities based on creative exercises and the presentation of texts, mainly from contemporary writers.
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Fouquet, Painter and Illuminator of the XVth century, the exhibition

Jean Fouquet was an illuminator and painter from the fifteenth century who lived in the ever changing scene of the kings of France, Charles VII and Louis XI, for whom he became the official painter. He played a vital role in the development of portrait painting, in the beginnings of perspective painting and landscape portrayals. This virtual exhibition is an opportunity to reflect on the path from illuminator to painter, and provides a wealth of information on medieval society because Fouquet was a very observant painter. As a starting point the exhibition looks at Fouquet as a painter of the king before examining in turn his portraits, religious painting, painting in the books and the influence of his work.
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Utopia, the Quest for the Ideal Society in the Western World, the exhibition

This exhibition seeks to explain what pushes man in this quest for an ideal society, through four periods: the sources of utopia; at the time of the Enlightenment; utopia in history; the utopias of the twentieth century. The feature which is organized in chronological order and richly illustrated, examines the different aspects of this quest: millenarianism, utopia and nature, utopia and the sciences, utopia and the family, etc. A reading room offers excellent documentary and research facilities. There are teaching suggestions and demonstrations for investigating the various contemporary issues. There are also study tips which focus directly on the texts used for the French Baccalaureate, as well as philosophical tours.
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Medieval Gastronomy, the exhibition

This is a virtual exhibition, with historical references, documents and recipes, and an iconography with a commentary all of which gives a very vivid insight into the daily life of all layers of medieval society. The various details provided are a chance for the visitor to appreciate what food was like in the Middle Ages: how the food was prepared in the kitchen, the traditions involved in organising the meal, etc. They also help the visitor understand how food and medicine were inextricably linked, along with the influence that religious symbolism had on eating traditions. The site also has a banqueting scene and some teaching exercises. There are games for finding out about food which was unknown in the Middle Ages, or which wasn’t eaten by the nobility.
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Arts and architecture

Gustave Doré, the Imagination in Control: the exhibition

It is to the illustrated edition of The Holy Bible according to the Vulgate, published by Alfred Mame, in Tours, in 1866, that Gustave Dore owes his notoriety outside of France, with the work having been subsequently published in many European cities and in the United States. The predilection of Doré for religious subjects, which was already evident in some earlier paintings, finds its full expression here. Deeply rooted in the collective imagination, these images have been extremely fortunate: some were used for preaching by the English pastors, others were shown in dioramas, and others would be the source of American biblical peploes for the cinema of the 1950s.
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Illuminations of the Islamic World, the exhibition

Is representation totally excluded from the Islamic art as we very often think it is? Teeming as they are with characters and life, the many miniatures which adorn some books seem however to prove the contrary. Islam has developed an original art, magnifying the word of God, based on ornamentation, and calligraphy. As it mingles with the abstract illumination in which the miniature flourishes in many secular texts. The virtual exhibition aims to be a guide through the prestigious Arab, Persian and Turkish manuscripts which are preserved at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, with an access with commentary to the 300 manuscripts which have been digitized in the digital library Gallica.
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Japanese Prints, the exhibition

Ukiyo-e is the image of a floating and fleeting world. This was the name given to Japanese printmaking at the end of the seventeenth century. The passing world of time, the world of the pleasures of gallant society of Edo (Tokyo), is the essential theme behind this art of printmaking. There are scenes of shows, portraits of women, parodies, scenery – the site offers a comprehensive vision of this fleeting art, intimately linking realism and spirituality and the detailed exploration of the works of great masters such as Hokusai and Hiroshige. There are close-ups on two full works: the Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji by Hokusai and the Fifty-three stations of the Tokaido by Hiroshige. They are in album form so that one can roam from page to page right down to the smallest detail. A guided tour provided by the curator of the exhibition is available for download on mp3. On the site, one can listen to the commentary while exploring the exhibited works down to the smallest detail. Finally, a history of the collection of Japanese prints kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, references on the techniques of printmaking, as well as a contemporary view provided by the photographer Thierry Girard with his version of the path of the Tokaido, all add to this site, which boasts more than three hundred works reproduced online. The site has an educational focus, the erotic prints are just touched upon.
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Daumier & his Heirs, the exhibition

From the July monarchy to the fall of the Second Empire, it is a real human comedy teeming with characters who are all nervously running around under the brush stroke of Daumier, as they fervently denounce the new failings of the period, which was hard on the humble and providential with the triumphant bourgeoisie. Both contemporary artists and students use in their turn the subversive drawing strengths to highlight the grotesque and grimacing face of the world. The comparison of their works, through three virtual exhibits, highlights continuity in the themes which are tackled and the iconographic vocabulary. The exhibition feature highlights the relationship between the work of Daumier and the time he lived in. It plunges the reader into the world of the lithographer passing through all the stages involved in the manufacture of lithographs. Finally, it emphasizes the common commitment of Daumier and his heirs. Flipbooks break up the iconography into parts by theme, and there are close-ups too. The contemporary cartoonists who have been interviewed talk about their connection with Daumier. Spanning the complete spectrum of caricature, the pedagogical feature was designed with the CLEMI. It offers a quick history of caricature, with an explanation of the techniques and processes involved. It puts a perspective on the work of Daumier within its historical context and also offers educational activities which are based on the documents on show and forms a bridge between the work of Daumier and his heirs on the same theme or a same process.
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Rembrandt. The light from the shadow, the exhibition

This virtual exhibition has a hundred or so engravings on display and provides an account of the continuing research of the artist through the succession of states of each print and how they are printed on different materials. Every multimedia resource has been used to highlight the continuous movement which is evident in these prints in order to express the mobility of expression of a face, a change of atmosphere, the unfolding of an event. There is a film illustrating the lighting work of Rembrandt, who would be continually toiling over his plate to change the effect obtained. The internet user can go back through the prints to compare the conditions in pairs right down to the smallest detail. The exhibition’s feature presents the engraved work by Rembrandt, the work he did in his workshop job and his great legacy. The iconography is gathered in theme based flipbooks and there is an option of examining the engravings very closely. There are reference markers which provide a biography of the artist, useful information on the engraving techniques, a presentation of the Rembrandt collection in the Bibliothèque nationale de France and a bibliography.
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Red, the History of a Color, the exhibition

Long regarded as the colour, par excellence, of blood and fire, of life and energy, one finds the colour red in every victory and in every formality; it has become the colour for shows. The site presents a journey into the symbolic world of red, guided by Michel Pastoureau. Through his tastes and fantasy the fashion designer Christian Lacroix offers a guided visit through a selection of theatrical costumes, from the collections of Bibliothèque nationale de France, of the national Opera of Paris and of the Comédie-Française. In addition to this visit there are pages of drawings of costumes and show scenery. There is a feature explaining the various facets of the colour red and exploring the theme of the Little Red Riding Hood.
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Abraham Bosse, the exhibition

The engravings of Abraham Bosse have served as illustrations for French history textbooks throughout the twentieth century and are very famous, even if the name of their author is often forgotten. Abraham Bosse who was a leading writer of the seventeenth century deals with every type of theme, whether it be religion, history, geography, science or illustrations of novels. His sense of detail, the accuracy and the precision of his observation, not devoid of humour, is what has made most of his prints invaluable testimonies of his time, in particular when he deals with the scenes about people at work and daily life. The exhibition contains a total of 340 images that can be browsed or studied in minute detail. In addition there is a feature all about the work of this learned-artist, along with references to line-engraving in Paris in the seventeenth century as well as the engraving techniques.
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Renaissance Drawings, the exhibition

The exhibition and its feature contain a hundred or so masterpieces from the Renaissance of various schools, grouped together in large sets: Northern school – with a dozen pages from Albrecht Dürer in particular –, drawings of archaeology and ornaments – of which the finest are from the office of the collector of antiquities Fabri de Peiresc , Italian school, portraits in pencil of the French school selected among a thousand pieces, and finally drawings from the school of Fontainebleau. The references guide the visitor through the collections of drawings of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and trace the history of the Print Office and its collection of drawings over three and a half centuries, from its creation by Colbert under Louis XIV, up until the modern day period. This presentation also has a glossary of the drawing techniques used in the sixteenth century and a bibliography.
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Berlioz, the Voice of Romanticism, the exhibition

The site, which is all about sound illustrations, endeavours to show the many facets of this protean artist. It is in images that the exhibition presents the romantic hero, the composer in search of official status, the inventor of the modern orchestra, the organizer of concerts throughout Europe and his painful relationships with the stage. The feature connects with musical romanticism, the art of composition, and is a testament to the literary work of the music critic and memorialist. Three close-ups focus on an educational mode of major works: Faust, le Traité d’orchestration (Treatise on orchestration) and the Symphonie fantastique (Fantastical Symphony) and look to explain in greater detail the myth of Faust, the place of instruments in the Orchestra or the various interpretations of the same symphony.
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Graphic Design, the exhibition

Whether the challenge be to inform, to promote or to denounce, graphic design has presentational strategies which have their very own way of capturing the look and thoughts. The virtual exhibition offers a tour through five facets of contemporary graphic design: the display; the page layout; the visual identity; the signage; the graphic design and the screen. A number of definitions of graphic design are proposed, all explained by close-ups on the work of a few contemporary artists. The albums which can be browsed through and are classified by theme provide access to 200 documents which are accessible in three formats. There is an educational demonstration for exploring this visual art by using the exhibition’s iconographic resources. It allows teachers to delve more deeply into the text-image relationship and to speculate on what, by guiding the reading, is compelling to look at and allows one to make sense.
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Rodolphe Bresdin, the exhibition

Nicknamed Chien-caillou, Rodolphe Bresdin was a "cursed" artist of the nineteenth century. The site displays his work through some 150 etchings and focuses on the most famous series: The Holy Family, interiors of Cocagne, foreign Cities, the virgin forest next door, Battles or the armies from the shadows, The Comedy of death. An exploration down to the smallest detail of the Abd el-Kader print or the Good Samaritan is accompanied by excerpts from his critical fortune.
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Face to Face, or the Art of the Portrait: the exhibition

The portrait is of a very old kind. The human representation is deeply rooted in western culture. From the end of the Middle Ages, and then during the Renaissance, it played a major role, in concordance with the interest shown towards the human person and to the particular individual. Very soon after its invention, photography concentrated on portraits, going as far as to take over certain functions that were provided by painting and graphic arts. More than one hundred and fifty years afterwards, faith in the truth of the photographic image has been lost. With the portrait, artists are forever testing the limits of the representation.
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Photography

Michael Kenna, the exhibition

The landscapes of the English photographer Michael Kenna have nothing to do with fashion phenomena. The human presence is depicted in a ghostly manner, solely by the traces that life and human activity have left on the world. This work, which develops scholarly and refined contrasts of texture and materials, is an opportunity for discussing the concept of landscape in art and demonstrates through painting and photography how the landscape pattern can reveal the changing view that man has of nature.
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Photographic Treasures of the Geographical society, the exhibition

The exhibition is a chance for visitors to follow photographers and geographers in their systematic exploration of the world, listing monuments and landscapes, compiling a portrait of populations, and highlighting the upheavals of the century. Grouped together by theme, the iconography may be consulted in the smallest of details. Links are provided to different articles and journals: Bulletin de la Société de géographie, La Nature, À travers le Monde and Le Tour du Monde, which are all accessible on Gallica. The educational feature examines three themes: looking at others; changes and upheavals; the excitement of the inventory. It allows one to understand just how the photographic collections of the Geographical Society reflect the ambitions of the learned geographers of the nineteenth century, who were engaged in a vast undertaking of learning and exploring.
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Eugène Atget, the exhibition

Born 150 years ago it was Eugène Atget who through his photographs transformed the way the city was seen. He was the link between the nineteenth and the twentieth century, who was able to see more to a city than just its monumental architecture, focussing instead on shop windows, on urban furniture, door handles... but also on the interiors, on the lesser trades but also on such areas, as the fringes of the city, where the rejects of urban development were discarded. His has been a hunt, in a city in a state of perpetual demolition/reconstruction, for a heritage on the edge of extinction.
The site contains nearly 800 photographs among the approximately 4,500 photographs from Atget which are kept at the BnF. It has a virtual exhibition, a feature and thematic albums that bear witness to a view so personal that the work photographer has gradually migrated from the documentary sphere to the realm of photographic art. The city of today, between the 20th and 21st century, also contains its mutations, its side-lining, its signs with their meanings, its "odd jobs". An educational feature examines the natural link between the photographer of the nineteenth century and the views of contemporary artists, sculptors, photographers, and writers so as to provide an understanding on today’s city by revisiting the themes of Atget.
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The Universal Exhibitions in Paris, 1867-1900: the exhibition

There were five Universal Exhibitions held in Paris in the nineteenth century: in 1855, 1867, 1878, 1889 and 1900. As of 1867, the photographs illustrate in a striking manner the singularity of each of the events, but also the increasing ambition of the organizers. The exhibition of 1889 included the palais du Trocadero which was built for the 1878 exhibition, in the same way as the exhibition of 1900 used the Eiffel tower which was built for the 1889 exhibition. In what was a very regular pattern (exactly every eleven years) these exhibitions were the timekeepers of technical progress, the development of the arts, of trade, colonial conquests, and political changes. The progress which was made in a few decades in photography was quite stunning. We had gone from static views, very framed, without characters (because of the time needed for posing) in 1867, to more animated views (from 1878 onwards) and even to scenes with crowds, boats or vehicles in movement (in 1900).
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Agence France-Presse, 1944-2004: the exhibition

The virtual exhibition presents the agency, its history, its role, its operation and its development; the job of the photo-reporter; the techniques for the transmission of images and how they have developed. The CLEMI has a lot of teaching ideas on offer about the exhibited works. Using a photo, two documentary features provide us with the chance to examine its use in the media: the size of the image, its position in the newspaper, the commentary... and alter the perception of the reader. An analysis of images demonstrates how, faced with the need to provide a summary of the information as quickly as possible in a few images, the press agency photojournalist has developed a photographic writing style. A few reporters provide commentaries on their work. There is a reading room for studying in more detail such themes as the constitution of the sources for the story, or the photographic snapshot as a symbol of an era. Then there are albums for browsing through the 230 images of the exhibition: photos of the Liberation, the chaos of the world, of child abuse, etc.
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Photographers for the Emperor – the albums of Napoleon III: the exhibition

The reign of Napoleon III (1852-1870) coincided with the spectacular growth in photography. Napoleon wanted his reign to symbolize scientific and social progress, industry and the arts, the renewed greatness of France on the chessboard of the European powers. Photography, the symbol of technical progress, was in his eyes to be the standard bearer for a modern reign. The exhibition is an account of this plan.
The orders that Napoleon III gave to the photographers of his time reveal an emperor aware of the notoriety that was his for the taking. The "Power and photography" feature looks at the relationship between photography and political ambition. 141 images classified by theme describe the France of this era and its ambitions in the world: its imperial palaces, its great construction projects, distant explorations, wars and peace, Italian campaign...
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Portraits / Faces, the exhibition

What is a portrait? Since the birth of photography, this is a question that photographers have for ever been asking themselves. As a presentation of characters who were all characterised by their social context, the portrait becomes a hunt for the individual, centred down to the very last detail, until his face, veiled, deformed, tends to disappear. The site provides reference markers on the history of the portrait which encompasses every photographic practice, from the studio portrait to abstract research, from the visiting card portrait to the legal portrait or to the artist’s self-portrait. It ventures beyond the theme of the portrait, as it is a means of exploring the major currents in the history of photography. Also associated with the exhibition, there is a portrait tour which is an opportunity in particular for schools, but not exclusively, to give further thought to portraits, based on the approach of the photographers on display, in the production of group or class photos.
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Gustave Le Gray, the exhibition

The virtual exhibition has a display of around 400 photographs from one of the most talented photographers of the nineteenth century. The feature retraces the life of this painter, photographer and inventor, who, between laboratory work and imperial orders, was the defender of the photographic profession as an art. Gustave Le Gray tackles all genres: portraits, nudes, architectural views, reportage and is for ever using technology in his work. Close ups describe Le Gray’s print work, his interpretation of clouds and the work of photographers of Barbizon. In addition the site contains reference texts on the status of photography in 1850 or thereabouts.
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Traveling in the Orient, the exhibition

The exhibition images set the scene: the journey through the Orient following in the footsteps of the pioneers of photography, first and foremost of whom was Maxim Du Camp. The first feature sets the theme historically: between the dream of conquest, the nostalgia and mass tourism. The Orient of photographers then sets out to explore the golden age of photography, which is to say 1840-1880. A third feature reveals to us the literary angle this time, from this place of explorations and fantasies. As one follows the route of Flaubert, one can flick through the albums which provide an incredible account of this journey though photographs, prints, and travel books. There is a reading room for the documentary resources with access to Gallica, complete with essential reference marker: maps, chronology, biographies, glossaries etc. Finally, there are teaching ideas for understanding the literary genre and the image of others or for exploring the theme of the travel diary.
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Maps and globes

Nautical maps, the exhibition

The illuminated nautical maps drawn on parchment and commonly called "portolan charts" offer a chance to explore once more the mythology of the major discoveries and long distance voyages. Produced between the fourteenth and eighteenth century, these documents are the testimony of five hundred years of European activity in the world. They are evidence of the changing relationships between the West and the other worlds: African, Indian, American, Oceanian.
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The history of cartography, the exhibition

This introduction to the history of the representations of the universe, from the first traces of territories appearing and memorisation of the routes up to the most contemporary images highlights the challenges of mapping and reveals the strategies of power, the development of knowledge and the imagination of human beings. A virtual exhibition retraces the major steps of this human adventure. Four themes which are introduced by audio-visual media are explored and widely illustrated: the representation of the Earth and the heavens, the challenges of mapping and the conquest of the seas. The site is made all the more impressive by a presentation of the Bibliothèque nationale de France Maps and Plans Department, an interactive game of maps creation and teaching ideas designed for young pupils and pre-senior school classes.
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The Globes of the Sun King, the exhibition

The globes which were offered by the cardinal of Estrees to Louis XIV, and which were made in 1683 by the Venetian cosmographer Vincenzo Coronelli are an artificial representation of the Earth and the heavens. As objects of science and emblems of power, these globes of 4m in diameter, and quite unusual in terms of their dimension, provide us with an insight to the world as it appeared around 1680, to a Sun King at the height of his glory. The virtual exhibition deals with the various aspects of the globes and explores their relationship with the representations of heaven and earth, from ancient times to the modern-day era. There are teaching ideas, for all ages at school and college which focus on the history, the geography, the plastic arts and literature. The whole of the tour is a chance to have fun thinking about the various appearances of heaven and earth, from Antiquity up to the modern-day satellite imagery. There is a light-hearted module to help the younger visitors imagine new territories by combining the details from ancient maps, globes and portolan charts which are kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Gradually the imaginary map develops with the appearance of cities and monuments, and with the arrival of a whole population of humans and animals, with landscape and plant life.
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Heaven & Earth, the exhibition

The virtual exhibition is a chance to explore a selection of the most beautiful representations of heaven and earth and is an account of the relationship between them. The exhibition in images explores four themes, which are wonderfully illustrated: the mystery of origins; the progress in science; the images of the universe; the imaginary world. There are close-ups about the catalan Atlas, and a nautical map dating back to the fourteenth century. Demonstrations are used to explain how the earth was created, the life of volcanoes, as well as the birth and death of stars. The literary or scientific educational demonstrations are supplemented by anthologies and a number of iconographic features.
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