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Students dream of French revolution at National Museum Cardiff

A new art exhibition at National Museum Cardiff is the result of a collaborative research project between students from the University of Bristol and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. Revolutionary Dreams will be on display from Saturday 24 March until Sunday 9 September 2012.


National Museum Cardiff has one of the most exceptional collections of nineteenth-century French Art in the United Kingdom. Six History of Art postgraduate students from the University of Bristol have selected, researched and interpreted some of the paintings to create this new display on the theme Revolutionary Dreams. The project has been generously supported by the Association of Art Historians.

Revolutionary Dreams engages with the turbulence of nineteenth century France and the relationship between the revolutions of the people and revolutionary developments in art. The display aims to show the social and political context of France during the nineteenth century, the period often called the ‘Century of Revolution’, due to its numerous regime changes. The first Revolution of 1789 only fulfilled some of its promises and further political upheaval occurred later in 1815, 1830, 1848, 1851 and the early 1870s. Many of the paintings in the exhibition could be seen to represent the dreams that France hoped to achieve.

Postgraduate students Matthew Howles and said, “It’s very exciting and rewarding to see our research come together in a display. We’re very lucky to have such a rich museum collection so close to Bristol. I will definitely visit it a lot in the future.”

Student Jess Hoare said, “Bristol's art enthusiasts should take advantage of being in such close proximity to the rich collections held at the National Museum of Cardiff. “

Anne Pritchard, Assistant Curator of Historic Art, Amgueddfa Cymru, said, “It’s been great to work with the students. They have been incredibly enthusiastic throughout and have brought a new and interesting perspective to the paintings. Through projects like this the Amgueddfa Cymru hopes to encourage scholarship in the museum’s collections, increase public access and develop the skills of our future curators and museum professionals.”

Find out more about their discoveries in the ‘Rhagor: Explore our Collections’ pages on the museum’s website,

Related talks at National Museum Cardiff:

18 May, 1.05pm 'What is Realist Art?', Ed Lilley, Senior Lecturer, History of Art Department, University of Bristol

18 May, 2.30pm Meet the student Curators for a tour of the Research and Reveal: Revolutionary Dreams display.

1 June , 1.05pm, ‘History and Illusionism - Granet's Choir of the Capuchin Church’, Stephen Bann, Emeritus Professor of History of Art, University of Bristol

1 June, 2.30pm, Meet the student Curators for a tour of the Research and Reveal: Revolutionary Dreams display.