The tactile exploration of Courbet’s painting L’Atelier du peintre (oil on canvas) is part of a multi-sensory experience.
It took place during the restoration of the masterpiece in 2016–17, inside the museum itself. It is now touring. The idea was that while the painting was being restored, visitors could see the work in progress through a giant window.
Client: Orsay museum
Partner: Atelier WAM
To heighten emotional response to the work, we co-created a sensory experience, enabling the painting’s different elements to be felt more personally. We also developed the audio description that accompanies it.
We chose to focus the tactile interpretation on the painting’s main characters: the painter flanked by a naked model and a child, and then two groups either side of the painter’s easel. The use of different layers of relief helps to highlight the groups. As a nod to the visitor and to be more faithful to that cultural era, the silhouette of Jeanne Duval, Baudelaire’s mistress at that time – painted on an initial version and then erased at the poet’s insistence – is traced very lightly in the tactile version.
As part of the multimodal experience, a digital app was developed to enable visitors to zoom into the painting for detailed explanations. Finally, the materials were displayed to give a sense of the tactile characteristics of the painting.
It was an immersion into this fabulous artistic period.