The Bernard d'Agesci Museum from Niort, one of the most important museums of the Grand-Ouest. It presents on 6 300m2, 4 sections: Fine Arts, Music (mainly around the violin maker Auguste Tolbecque) Natural History and the conservatory and observatory of education. This museum welcomes also one of the few national workshops for the restoration of paintings!
The history of the Bernard d'Agesci Museum
Augustin Bernard alias Bernard d'Agesci born in Niort in 1756. He came from a bourgeois family, he was a student at the Collège de l'Oratoire in Niort before being sent to Paris to study the great masters. He then entered the workshop of Jean-Bernard Restout at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. He finds a place in this Artistic Paris as evidenced by the presence of six of his paintings in the collections of the Marquis Louis-Gabriel de Véri, who was probably behind his departure for Italy where he stayed from 1783 to 1789, in Bologna and Rome. He returned to Paris in 1789 to the heart of the bubbling cauldron of the French Revolution. At the Salon of 1791 in Paris, year III of freedom, he exhibited 9 paintings under the name of Bernard Dagescy or D'Agesci. In 1792, he was preparing to enter the Academy when it was abolished. The revolutionary events forced him to to leave Paris and move to Niort. Would you like to know more about its history? Read the press kit at the bottom of the page.
The Fine and Decorative Arts Section
These collections of Bernard d'Agesci Museum mettent en exergue the evolution of the representation of bodies in painting and sculpture according to the political and religious contexts and medical discoveries.
The section includes paintings from the 16th to the 20th century, especially Flemish and Dutch few well-known painters, but many high-quality "small masters" and talented "followers", such as the "Virgin with grapes" (Flemish school of the 16th century) or the "Solomon and the Queen of Sheba" from the workshop of Frans II Francken, known as "the young" (Antwerp, 1581-Antwerp, 1642), a Flemish painter from the Netherlands.
In the large hall of the Bernard d'Agesci Museum, the visitor is welcomed by "The Apollo of the Belvedere", a 17th century bronze statue attributed to the sculptor Hubert Le Sueur; an introduction to the subject that also invites us to discover the sculptures of the 19th century (Poisson, Baujault, Caillet...) or again the bust room.
As for the decorative arts, on Bernard d'Agesci Museum present an exceptional collection of objects: clerical tray from Syria (1230-50), inscribed tray from Egypt or Syria (1310-40), Persian baby armour from the 16th century... ; France's third-largest collection of Islamic objects but also Gothic ivories, Limoges enamels from the Renaissance, religious silverware...
Not to mention, painted woodwork from the first half of the 17th century the chapel of the castle of La Mothe-Saint-Héray (Deux-Sèvres) and the 9 m2 earthenware ceiling from Parthenay (Deux-Sèvres) exhibited in the hall Auguste Tolbecque (musician of the XIXth-XXth century, from Niort by adoption, of which a part of his The Bernard d'Agesci Museum has a collection of violin making instruments.)
The Music Section
This section is dedicated in particular to the collection of instruments made by Auguste Tolbecque, a multi-instrumentalist musician of the 19th-20th centuries who settled in Niort in 1856.
The Bernard d'Agesci Museum plunges you, through 2 rooms, into the music room of the artist as well as in its violin making workshop Fort-Foucault (old fortress located on an islet opposite the Niort Donjon).
You will discover, among other things reconstructions of instruments from the Middle Ages, a fifteen-string bass lyre from 1898 and a cello. These instruments were all made by Auguste Tolbecque.
The Natural History section
The "day and night" space from Bernard d'Agesci Museum contains of emblematic mammals as the wolf or brown bear but also birds of prey as long-eared owl, tailed eagle
white, golden eagle... These animals live side by side in this room, which evokes their diurnal and nocturnal behaviour.
A important ornithological collection is consisting mainly of donations at Bernard d'Agesci Museum two naturalists and taxidermists from Niort: Ingrand, former headmaster of a school in Civray, then in Niort, and his disciple Marius Guimard, employed by the City of Mail, who preserved the last bearded vulture (the largest vulture in Europe) killed in France, in the Pyrenees.
See also: a cabinet of curiosities bringing together corals, the shellfish, the ostrich eggs a collection of ammonite fossils and other marine molluscs dating back between 183 and 155 million years. bone collection with skeletons of deer, monkeys, golden eagles, bats, lions, etc.
The conservatory section of the school, educational methods and scientific objects
This section of the Bernard d'Agesci Museum present the history of a century and a half of education: school objects and furniture (museum cupboard used for lessons), scientific equipment (praxinoscope, the beginnings of cinema), wall maps, books secondary schools.