Acquisition, Exhibition, Patronage : All the News from the Musée de Picardie

22/3/14 - Acquisition, exhibition, patronage - Amiens, Musée de Picardie and Paris, Musée de la Vie Romantique - The Musée de Picardie is very active as concerns its 19th century collection. A few days ago, it inaugurated its new hang in the Grand Salon and last 15 November, the museum pre-empted at the Hôtel Drouot, Thierry de Maigret auctioneers, a drawing by Louis Lafitte representing Reestablishing Trade with England (ill. 1) to mark the anniversary of the Paix d’Amiens, for a modest 650€ before charges that is, less than the low estimate.

1. Louis Lafitte (1770-1828)
Allegory of the Reestablishment of Trade with England
Pen and black ink, grey wash - 24 x 46.5 cm
Amiens, Musée de Picardie
Photo : Musée de Picardie

2. A view of the Atelier Salon at the Musée de la Vie Romantique
The hang from the Musée de Picardie
Photo : La Tribune de l’Art

Signed at Amiens city hall on 25 March 1802, the treaty concluded a peace agreement between France, Spain and Holland on the one hand, England on the other but it lasted little over one year. The drawing illustrates the scene with an allegory, using mythological figures such as muses or goddesses wearing laurel crowns depicting France on the left and England on the right just disembarking from a boat marked "London".
The Musée de Picardie already holds several works relating to the event : a painting by Antoine Callet, Reestablishing Prayer, recently restored by the C2RMF, another canvas with the same subject by Pierre-Nicolas Legrand de Sérant, donated by the Amis du Musée in 1982 and another drawing by Lafitte, La Paix d’Amiens, also donated by the same association in the 1980’s.

3. Petrus van Schendel (1806-1870)
Saint Mary Magdalene Praying
Oil on canvas - 110.4 x 88.5 cm
Amiens, Musée de Picardie
Photo : La Tribune de l’Art

4. Eugène Isabey (1803-1856)
The Mont Saint-Michel
Oil on cardboard - 26.1 x 36.5 cm
Amiens, Musée de Picardie
Photo : La Tribune de l’Art

The two sheets by Lafitte are on view to the public starting today at the Musée de la Vie Romantique in Paris (ill. 2) which is displaying ten paintings and twenty drawings from the first half of the 19th century [1]. The latter will be showing until 22 June in the antechamber while the paintings will remain in the Atelier Salon for three years, except for the periods where there are temporary exhibitions. This allows the space, normally closed between shows, to stay open on a permanent basis.
Among the paintings on display, there is notably a Saint Mary Magdalene Praying (ill. 3) by a Belgian artist who is little known in France, Petrus van Schendel. The luminism of this work recalls another Penitent Mary Magdalene by the French painter, Henri-Frédéric Schopin which was on the art market in the early 2000’s.
A search through the database of the Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique belge (which brings up only three items for Schendel) shows that this artist apparently liked to use these nocturnal effects with candlelight [2], no doubt inspired by the example of the 17th century painters from Utrecht, notably Honthorst. The selection also includes two fine small paintings by Eugène Isabey (ill. 4), portraits by Claude-Marie Dubufe, Winterhalter and Charles-Philippe de Larivière.

5. Charles-Philippe de Larivière (1798-1876)
A Holy Martyr and Saint
Pastel - 73.5 x 60.3 cm
Amiens, Musée de Picardie
Photo : La Tribune de l’Art

6. Charles-Auguste Steuben (1788-1856)
Peter the Great
Caught in the Storm

Oil on canvas - 350 x 400 cm
Amiens, Musée de Picardie
Photo : Musée de Picardie

This last artist is represented with several works at the museum in Amiens and among the drawings there is a superb pastel depicting an unidentified saint (ill. 5). The collection includes sheets by Delacroix, Eugène Devéria, Edouard Bertin, Léon Cogniet and Louis David... We should also point out a remarkable drawing by Charles Steuben, Peter the Great Caught in the Storm which Olivia Voisin had discussed in our broadcast La Semaine de l’Art last 16 January. This work is preparatory for a large painting shown at the Salon of 1812, also residing in Amiens, rolled up since the war and known only thanks to a photograph (ill. 6). The Musée de Picardie would like to restore the painting and is looking for funding.
On the subject, we would like to recall an important point which we had overlooked in our preceding article on Amiens : the restoration of the amazing painting by Louis-Edouard Rioult which has revealed its quality and was made possible thanks to the generosity of a Parisian art dealer, Philippe Mendes who financed the restoration of the canvas as well as the frame. We hope that the Steuben will also soon find a patron.

Version française

Didier Rykner, samedi 22 mars 2014


[1] The drawings are exhibited in conjunction with the Semaine du Dessin.

[2] These two pages, pointed out by a reader, which reproduce respectively 11 and 18 works by the artist confirms this impression (footnote added on 23/3/14).

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