An Islamic bowl broken at the Louvre exhibition in Quebec

Iran, beginning of the XIIIth century

Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : RMN / H. Lewandowski

9/6/08 — Heritage — Paris, Musée du Louvre — The Louvre has organized a diplomatic exhibition, imposed for political reasons, in Quebec which is entitled Le Louvre, Les Arts et la Vie (Louvre, Arts and Life) (see news item, in French, of 7/11/06)
This event, with a catalogue which reveals the total lack of scholarly interest [1], will in any case have had a sorry outcome : an Islamic bowl was broken as it was being installed in a showcase.

The Louvre, whom we contacted, sent us the following statement [2] :

“The management at the Musée du Louvre was informed of the incident (which took place during the first week of the hang for the exhibition “Le Louvre à Québec. Les arts et la vie”) during which a bowl known as “the falconer on horseback” – early 13th century, Iran – was damaged. The work had already undergone several restorations formerly around the edges of the bowl. These old restorations broke off from the central section, which remained intact, after the top part of a plexiglas showcase slipped. An on-the-spot evaluation took place immediately which showed that the work could be restored. The piece has already left Québec and returned to the Louvre for the restoration process. The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec will assume all restoration expenses.”

We hope the statement provided by the Louvre does not underestimate the damage (other sources are more alarmist). In any case, the damage did indeed occur. This incident once again proves that transporting art works entails high risks and that it should only be done for a good reason. The presence of one of the masterpieces of the Islamic Arts Department at this kind of exhibition was not necessary.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 9 juin 2008


[1] This is not surprising given the fact that the show brought together works at the Louvre from different departments around a theme which was too generic.

[2] Let us point out that this time the Louvre reacted very quickly to our request, a sign that, we hope, reveals their attempt to be more open in the future.

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