A masterpiece by Giovanni Antonio Sogliani on deposit at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Caen

1. Giovanni Antonio Sogliani (1492-1544)
The Virgin with Child and Saint John the Baptist
Oil on panel - 120 x 100 cm
Caen, Musée des Beaux-Arts
(deposit of the city of Langrune-sur-Mer)
Photo : Didier Rykner

26/5/09 – Deposit – Caen, Musée des Beaux-Arts – Generally, paintings should be maintained in the place for which they were commissioned or produced. However, at times village churches, when receiving donations or bequests, find themselves with important works which have no direct link to their history and unable to provide satisfactory conservation conditions. The closing of places of worship due to looting, the ensuing oblivion faced by many of these canvases in the long run threatens their existence and it can be wiser to deposit them in a museum.

In 1895, Madame Goldberg, already a donor to the Louvre, had bequeathed an important painting by the Florentine artist Giovanni Antonio Sogliani, The Virgin with Child and Saint John the Baptist (ill. 1), to the presbytery in Langrune-sur-Mer, in the Calvados region. This masterpiece, listed as a historical monument for in 1936, has remained largely unknown. As a protective measure, after its restoration in 1994, it was placed in the town hall where it was not available to the public. The mayor of Langrune, aware of its interest and unable to exhibit it and hold it in the correct conditions, accepted to put it on deposit at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Caen where it has just been hung.

In excellent state, this very beautiful painting by an artist close to Fra Bartolomeo and Andrea del Sarto, now hanging not far from the Marriage of the Virgin by Perugino, rounds out the already rich Italian holdings. The Caen panel can be compared to the tondo belonging to the Pinacoteca Capitolina or to another Virgin with Child and Saint John the Baptist held in Florence at the Museo del Cenacolo by Andrea del Sarto.

2. Pierre-Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Abraham and Melchisedec
Oil on panel put on canvas - 204 x 250 cm
Caen, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Didier Rykner

Let us also point out another of the events currently taking place at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Caen, the basic restoration (support and pictorial layer) of Abraham and Melchisedec by Rubens (ill. 2). The cleaning, as well as the removal of several touch-ups, confirmed that it was largely an authentic work by the master’s hand and of very high quality.

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, mardi 26 mai 2009

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