Acquisition, restoration : an update for the Musée Cognac-Jay


1. . Jeanne-Louise Vallain, called
Nanine (1767-1815)
Shepherdess (Self-portrait ?), 1788
Oil on canvas - 99 x 80.6 cm
Paris, Musée Cognacq-Jay
Photo : Musée Cognacq-Jay

1/12/10 – Acquisition and restoration – Paris, Musée Cognac-Jay – Exhibiting, publishing, restoring and acquiring are a museum’s basic missions. Cognac-Jay accomplishes them all. In another article(in French), we discuss the exhibition on Tivoli and the accompanying publication. Here, we will just mention a very recent acquisition as well as the restoration of a major work in French public collections.

The acquisition is one of only three known paintings by Jeanne-Louise Vallain, known as Nanine Vallain, a woman artist of the late 18th century. Signed and dated 1788, the canvas was purchased from the Mendès Gallery in Paris.
The entry in the gallery catalogue suggests an allegorical self-portrait painted in 1788 but this identification has not been received unanimously by other specialists. In fact, the work’s significance is not very clear. This could be a portrait which transforms the model into a shepherdess as was the fashion at the time, or else a representation of Saint Agnes or Saint Genevieve although the lack of a halo makes this theory less likely. Regardless, the image, depicted in a style somewhere between Greuze and Vigée-Lebrun, holds a good deal of charm.


2. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
The Prophet Balaam’s She-Ass, 1626
Before restoration
Oil on panel - 65 x 46.5 cm
Paris, Musée Cognacq-Jay
Photo : Musée Cognacq-Jay

3. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
The Prophet Balaam’s She-Ass, 1626
After restoration
Oil on panel - 65 x 46.5 cm
Paris, Musée Cognacq-Jay
Photo : Musée Cognacq-Jay


The restoration concerns Rembrandt’s very famous painting, The Prophet Balaam’s She-Ass, which has now returned to the galleries after a three-year absence. The panel was studied by the C2RMF, then the yellowed varnishes were cleaned and some repainted areas removed [1]. The work turned out to be in excellent condition and this restoration now reveals a particularly warm and delicate range of colours.
The subject is a rare one. The magician Balaam was about to curse the Hebrews after their return from Egypt when, suddenly, an angel appeared before his she-ass and prevented her from going any further. Suffering from her master’s blows, she started speaking miraculously asking him to stop. Upon seeing this, Balaam was immediately converted. Signed and dated 1626, when the artist was only twenty years old, this painting still shows the strong influence of Pieter Lastman.


Didier Rykner, mercredi 1er décembre 2010


Notes

[1] The restoration was carried out by Isabelle Leegenhoek.



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