A Portrait by Suvée at the Prison Saint-Lazare Acquired by Tours

Joseph-Benoît Suvée (1743-1807)
Portrait of a Man, 1794
Oil on Canvas - 60 x 48.5 cm
Tours, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Piasa

25/2/12 - Acquisition - Tours, Musée des Beaux-Arts - The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Tours acquired a Portrait of a Man (ill.) by Joseph-Benoît Suvée last 10 May at a Piasa auction in Paris for 24,083€ (including charges). Sophie Join-Lambert, recently appointed as head of this establishment (see news item in French), is in fact the specialist on the artist for whom she is preparing a publication and an exhibition (see here).
This painting could not have been purchased without the practiced eye of Denis Coekelberghs and his interest in French museums. After having noticed the work in the catalogue, he contacted the museum director. With only a week remaining before the date of the sale, the Musée des Beaux-Arts managed to obtain the necessary authorization from the DRAC for the purchase (but it was too late to pre-empt it).

As Sophie Join-Lambert explained to us, this work is particularly important as it concerns a portrait painted by the artist while incarcerated at the Saint-Lazare prison [1], notably in the company of André Chenier. In all, he produced four portraits while there : that of the poet, those of the Trudaine brothers (also close friends of Chénier) and their brother-in-law Micault de Courbeton. Suvée was the only prisoner to be saved from the guillotine.
The portrait of André Chenier resides in a private collection. The three others were unknown until now. Sophie Join-Lambert would like to publish this painting in La Revue des Musées de Fance. We are sure that by that time she will have succeeded in identifying who is represented in the portrait, one of the Trudaines or Micault de Courbeton.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 29 mai 2012


[1] The canvas is signed on the lower right Suvée/Saint Lazare.

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