The painting gallery is organised as an encyclopaedic journey through the French, Italian and Nordic schools from the 15th to the 20th century. It begins with great religious and historical paintings, with important works by Giovanni Massone, Jean Restout, Philippe de Champaigne, Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet and Jusepe de Ribera, continuing with a selection of French official art, where visitors can see works by Charles Landon, Henri Fantin-Latour, Gustave Courbet and Eugène Boudin. The tour ends with a celebration of artists who were born in Orne or moved there, like Jacques-Edmond Leman, Jean-Jacques François Monanteuil, Gaston La Touche and Charles Léandre, as well as the painters of the Saint-Céneri school.
The graphic arts collection, boasting over 1,300 works of art ranging from the 15th to the 20th century, contains some remarkable exhibits. Donations, bequests and purchases have allowed the museum to build up this collection of rare and precious papers. Indeed, much of it was made possible by generous donors, particularly by the Marquis de Chennevières-Pointel (1820-1899), the first ever donor to the museum, and Horace His de La Salle (1795-1878).
The museum is thus able to preserve works by masters such as Watteau, Coypel, La Fosse and Verdier, as well as artists from the region and Lower Normandy like Léandre and Monanteuil, and contemporary artists like Hundertwasser from Vienna.
Did you know? Preservation of drawings is a particularly challenging task for museums. Works displayed for a period of three months will then have to be kept in a dark place for three years before being exposed to the light again.
Meanwhile, sculpture came to the museum in 1873 with a donation of the studio collection of Victor Le Harivel Durocher (1816-1878), a sculptor from Orne, including most of his original plaster casts.