Behind the Scene reimagines the artist’s studio in 19th-century France. The exhibition examines how artists’ workshops served multiple functions, including spaces devoted to artistic creation, locations of social interaction and debate, sales rooms for unsold works, exhibition spaces for artists’ personal collections, and storage sites for wide-ranging art and artefacts. In this sense, the exhibition also highlights the influence of an increasingly multicultural Europe on the interiors of artists’ studios.

The ease of travel and the expansion of international trade during the 19th-century facilitated the birth of culturally diverse metropolises. Just as such cities as Paris and London became home to many new citizens immigrating from abroad, artists travelled to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Studios, accordingly, became veritable museums composed of everything from foreign apparel and artefacts to historical European art. Amassing and using international wares reflects the colonial backdrop against which Western artists worked throughout the 19th century.

Ultimately, Behind the Scene reimagines an artist’s creative space by assembling and displaying such diverse objects as ceramics, European sculptures, prints, African artefacts, and historical Western paintings. In so doing, the exhibition recreates the dynamic, engaging, and multi-faceted environment in which 19th-century artists worked.