Early career

Portrait of Morgan-Snell in her studio
Portrait of Morgan-Snell in her studio

Morgan-Snell (1920-2007) was born in Brazil, Sao Paulo, a self-taught artist, her only schooling was the constant observation of the human forms surrounding her, she drew before even knowing how to write. After the war, circa 1946, she spent long periods of time in Europe and assiduously frequented French and Italian museums, absorbing the works of great masters.

In 1943, she painted the portraits of Brazilian dignitaries, and in 1946 two major exhibitions were devoted to her in Rio de Janeiro (Barcinsky Gallery), and at the Copacabana Palace Hotel.

Her reputation

In 1948, Morgan-Snell moved to Paris. Her reputation was by then already well-established in Brazil and people had already begun to speak of her in France. She worked a great deal, was granted 17 awards, including several very important ones. Her works are part of the French State collection: two works belongto the Musée National Art Moderne de Paris ('National Museum of Modern Art in Paris') and two other works to the Musée d'art Moderne de la ville de Paris ('City of Paris' modern art museum.')

In 1958, the French State commissioned from her a large mural painting entitled "The Snatchers of the Sea" (10m x 2m) destined for exhibition at the General Post Office of the Sables d'Olonne in the Vendée region of France. This piece was later transferred to the Convention Centre, the Atlanteans , of the same city.

In 1960, she executed two murals of 24m ² each for l’église de la Trinité, in the opera district of Paris commissioned by the Beaux-Arts de Paris (Committee of Fine Arts in Paris). "The Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple” and the “Virgin of the Pentecost”, were both inaugurated in 1966. These panels are both still on view, and have been since 1972, in l’église Saint Michel in the Batignolles quarter of Paris (75017).

From that time on Morgan-Snell was invited to exhibit throughout the world: in Paris at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, (in 1956, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1964, 1969, 1971, 1975 and 1977), a retrospective held in Bern (1957 -1967) was presented at the Haudenschild Laubscher Gallery, exhibitions also took place in Sweden and California amongst others. In 1975, she was invited by the Ministry of Cultural and Foreign Affairs of Brazil to present a cultural exhibition at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro MNBA, inaugurated by the Governor of State of Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Faria Lima, and also at the Assis Chateaubriand Museum in Sao Paulo (1975).

Her final years of artistic work

Exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery
Exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery

In 1977, a retrospective was presented at UNESCO in Paris, organized by the Ambassador of Brazil to UNESCO in Paris, Mr. Penna Illmar.

She participated in numerous national and international events in particular: Painters Witnesses of their time, also at the Musée National Art Moderne de Paris ('National Museum of Modern Art in Paris'); abroad, among others: the National Museum of Warsaw, Stockholm, the Athénée museum in Geneva, at the World Exhibition in Montreal, the Haus der Kunst Museum in Munich; in 1975 at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad, where she was invited by the Russian Government. Many of her works are in National Museums and museums abroad, as well as in private collections.

Pathé-Actualité has produced two coloured films reporting the life and work of Morgan-Snell (from 1959 and 1967). In Brazil three films have been shot in relation to her work. She executed paintings and a mural for a French fantasy film shot in colour called "Midi-minuit" (midday-midnight) which was released in Parisian cinemas in 1970.

She received 33 medals and several major French artistic prizes. She was named "Woman of the Year 1975" for her Plastic Arts in Brazil.

From 1978, the artist moved away from the artistic world to devote herself to charitable associations in both Brazil and France.

For a more complete biography, please consult the following document (PDF format): Complete biography.

Key achievements and exhibitions

Exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery
Exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery
Exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery
Exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery
  • 1958 : "The snatchers of the sea" - a mural hanging on the walls of the General Post Office at the Sables d'Olonne (in the Vendée region of France) commissioned by the French State.
  • 1966: The interior of the Eglise de la Trinité (Paris) - two large panels (6 m x 4 m) commissioned by thela Commission Consultative des Beaux Arts (Advisory Commission on Fine Arts), representing " The Virgin at Pentecost " and " The presentation of the Virgin in the Temple ".
  • 1969 : Large and prestigious exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery on the occasion of the release of the monograph written by Jacques Suffel and completely devoted to Morgan-Snell herself. The preface was written by Louise de Vilmorin.
  • She participated in the exhibition "The Temptation of St. Anthony and the macabre in Art" at the Pulitzer Gallery, London. Henry F.Pulitzer asked Morgan-Snell to paint her version of this legend.
  • 1970: She took part in a major exhibition at the "Maison de Lyon" at Place Bellecour (Paris, France).
  • She had a significant involvement in the production of the fantasy film "Midi-minuit" for which she was asked to create paintings and a mural panel.
  • In the Festival of Aix en Provence she exhibited "From the commedia dell'arte to the circus" at the Musée des Tapisseries (Museum of Tapestries) and the "Pavillon Vendôme" of the same city.
  • 1971 : She took part in a major exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, inaugurated by Jacques Baumel, the Secretary of State to the French Prime Minister. The preface of its catalog was written by Maurice Druon of the ‘Académie Française’, Minister of Cultural Affairs.
  • 1972 : Exhibitions in Rome and other major international cities; New York, Berlin, Madrid, Munich.
  • 1973: Exhibition "Homage to Pierre Cailler" Parisian Engraving Gallery, Palais de la Découverte Grand Palais (Paris).
  • At the Grand Prix Leonardo di Vinci at the Olivetti Gallery (Paris). Morgan-Snell was granted the "Consecration Award."
  • Grand Official event on the occasion of the donation to the National Museum of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro's of the painting by the artist entitled "happy water".
  • She took part in "contemporary print" , National Library (Paris).
  • 1974 : Prestigious exhibition ,"the Real to the Unbelievable" at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, where Morgan-Snell has had an exclusive and permanent display since 1955.
  • 1975 : Exhibition at the Athénée museum in Geneva.
  • Exhibition at the Rio museum, and at the Assis Chateaubriand museum of Sao Paulo, inaugurated by the Governor of State of Rio de Janeiro.
  • 1976: Release of the medal Médaille le foot-ball commissioned edited by the ‘administration des Monnaies et des Médailles de France’ (French administration of Coins and Medals).
  • 1977 : A retrospective took place at the UNESCO building in Paris named "Morgan-Snell or the new epic." This exhibition was later transferred to the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery.

For a more comprehensive list of major events in the life of Morgan-Snell, please see the following documents (PDF format) : Exhibitions and events, Movies and television.

The invitation for the opening of <i>« The snatchers of the sea »</i>
The invitation for the opening of « The snatchers of the sea »

Exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, 1958
Exhibition at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, 1958

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