Acquisition, Restorations, Hangs : News of Neo-Classical (and Romantic) Holdings at the Louvre

28/10/11 - Acquisition, restorations, hangs - Paris, Musée du Louvre - In 2011 the Louvre acquired a magnificent work by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon (ill. 1) from the Roman gallery of Carlo Virgilio : a representation of the monument to Clement XIV executed by Canova (ill. 2) between 1783 and 1787 for the basilica of the Saint Apostles. Published in Grande Galerie by Sylvain Laveissière [1] who rediscovered it, the existence of this canvas, unpublished until now, was documented by a handwritten note jotted down by Canova in his account book. Wishing to make his sculpted work known through the use of engravings, Canova asked Prud’hon to do a painting which would be used by the engraver Pietro Maria Vitali.

1. Pierre-Paul Prud’hon (1758-1823)
The Monument to Clement XIV, executed by Canova, 1787
Oil on Canvas - 90.5 x 60 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Galerie Carlo Virgilio

2. Antonio Canova
Monument of Pope Clément XIV, 1783-1787
Rome, Basilica of the Saint Apostles
Photo : Giovanni Rinaldi

This painting, which has not been hung as yet but which we saw, is of exceptional quality. The way in which he renders the variations of the light on the marble reveals Prud’hon’s mastery of his art at a very early point in his career. As Sylvain Laveissière points out, the two artists were often compared, notably by David who said of Prud’hon that he was "a Canova in painting", an association which is particularly well justified here.

3. Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson (1767-1824)
The Deluge, 1806
After Restoration
Oil on Canvas - 441 x 341 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Didier Rykner

4. Antonio Carracci (c.1583-1618)
The Deluge, detail, c.1616/1618
Oil on Canvas - 166 x 247 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Didier Rykner

Other news at the Louvre concerns the Neo-Classical collection : a new hang in the Daru room of Girodet’s masterpiece, The Deluge (ill. 3) after a very accomplished restoration [2], eliminating the yellowed varnish which distorted the work. We were struck by the change in the painting, greatly enhanced by this cleaning, making the artist’s subtle use of color visible once again. Sylvain Laveissière now thinks that the rediscovery of the mauve color of the coat, which stands out behind the figures of the son carrying the father is even stronger proof of the influence exerted on Girodet by Antonio Carracci in a painting of the same subject from the collections of Louis XIV and which was very famous at the time. The Italian canvas does indeed reveal two tunics floating in the wind which are very similar (ill. 4), as well as the analogous attitude in the figures.

5. François-Marius Granet (1775-1849)
The Lower Basilica of Saint Francis in Assissi, 1823
Oil on Canvas - 200 x 274 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : RMNGP/T. Le Mage

Another painting which we had not seen for quite some time, The Lower Basilica of Saint Francis in Assissi by François-Marius Granet (ill. 5) is now on display in the galleries, replacing a Delacroix canvas which is on loan at the retrospective in Madrid currently sponsored by the Caixa Forum, curated by Sébastien Allard. The work will no doubt return to the storage rooms when the exhibition closes, but will hang for almost three months in the Mollien room, across from a painting which, also appears only sporadically on the walls at the Louvre whenever the museum needs to fill in a space vacated for a loan to an exhibition. This is Joseph’s Bloody Tunic Is Brought to Jacob by François-Joseph Heim (see news item in french of 6/7/10).

Version française

Didier Rykner, vendredi 28 octobre 2011


[1] Sylvain Laveissière, "Prud’hon. Canova et le monument de Clément XIV", Grande Galerie, n° 17, September-November 2011, p. 10.

[2] Carried out by Francisca Hourrière.

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