An important donation on exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille


22/12/09– Acquisitions–Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts – The recent donation of forty-eight works to the museum in Lille, currently highlighted in an exhibition, is absolutely remarkable. The collectors, Philippe Laporte and Yannick Pellegrin, are authentic art lovers with limited financial means but who know how to replace money with good taste, knowledge and conviction. Antiquing on weekends at auction houses and flea markets, they have managed to put together a collection of drawings and sculptures produced between 1850 and 1950 which is both consistent and of very high quality. It is made up essentially of works by artists from Lille or its region. They had already made several generous donations, notably a Study of Christ by Luc-Olivier Merson in 2002 (ill. 1) and a drawing by Arnould de Vuez (ill. 2) in 2005. Here, the exhibition presents mainly the works donated in 2008, rounded out by four objects which they still own. When asked about their reason for the donation, they answer modestly by saying that they no longer had enough room at home to display everything. The group of works exhibited today represents indeed only part of a collection which continues to grow.

1. Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920)
Study of Christ for the
painting The Vision from Lille’s museum
Photo : RMN

2. Arnould de Vuez (1644-1720)
Peace and Justice giving the hand
Wash and ink- 29 x 25 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN


However, we would like to point out how unfortunate it is that a catalogue was not published at the same time. Instead, there is only a small brochure which presents the most interesting items. The museum also published an interesting interview with the collectors which accompanies the press release for the exhibition and it has graciously authorized us to reproduce it here, in French.

3. View of the exhibition of the donation Laporte-Pellegrin
From the left to the right downward :
Constantin Meunier (1831-1905), Head of puddleur, 1890
Naoum Aronson (1872-1943), Louis Pasteur
Agathon Léonard (1841-1923), The peasant Woman
Agathon Léonard (1841-1923), Sainte Cecile, 1888
Constantin Meunier (1831-1905), The Miner, 1904
(terracotta, bronze, ceramic)
Alphons-Amédée Cordonnier (1848-1930), The Sower
Alphons-Amédée Cordonnier (1848-1930), Herald of XVIth century



Alfonse Colas is one of the most important 19th century religious painters in Northern France. The donation includes two drawings by this artist (ill. 4 and 5).

4. Alphonse Colas (1818-1887)
Assumption
Pencil- 48.5 x 21 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN

5. Alphonse Colas (1818-1887)
The Virgin
Pencil- 48.5 x 21 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN


One of the masterpieces of the collection is a large plaster cast by Lucien Brasseur (ill. 6), a replica of one of the eight sculptures standing in front of the Palais de Chaillot in Paris and commissioned at the time it was built in 1937.

6. Lucien Brasseur (1878-1960)
The Birds, 1937
Plaster - 140 x 45 x 60 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Didier Rykner



The donation includes a bronze plaque by Edgar-Henri Boutry (ill. 7), one of the Lille artists (and there were many) to have won the Prix de Rome. This is a reduction of a large plaster bas-relief donated to the Palais des Beaux-Arts in 1892 by the sculptor.

7. Edgar-Henri Boutry (1857-1938)
Love and Madness
Bronze - 52 x 37 x 7 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Didier Rykner



Two sculptures by Emile Morlaix (ill. 8 and 9) were donated by Philippe Laporte and Yannick Pellegrin. This artist, a student of Paul Landowski, continued to produce works in the style of the 1930’s aesthetics for a long time even after WWII. The Genius of the Fatherland, dating from 1958, might thus have been created twenty years earlier, in no way detracting from its admirable artistic qualities.

8. Emile Morlaix (1909-1990)
The Genius of the Fatherland, 1958
Plaster - 110 x 47 x 40 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN

9. Emile Morlaix (1909-1990)
Bust of Apollon
Plaster - 110 x 47 x 40 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN


The museum in Lille already held several sculptures by Alphonse-Amedee Cordonnier, also Prix de Rome (in 1877) and trained in Lille. The donation adds two works to the holdings, one is a bronze (ill. 10) and the other a terracotta bust (ill. 11).

10. Alphonse-Amédée Cordonnier (1848-1930)
Herald of the XVIth century
Bronze - 68 x 28 x 26 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN

11. Alphonse-Amédée Cordonnier (1848-1930)
The Sower
Terracotta - 35 x 37 x 25 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN


It also allows us to rediscover a rather fascinating artist, again from Northern France, another Prix de Rome winner (in 1906), who worked in Lille in the 20th century : Aime-Gustave Blaise. He is represented with two plaster casts, produced at a forty year interval. Conscience (ill. 12 on the left) shows Cain pursued by his conscience. The almost Baroque aspect of this sculpture can also be seen, in a more subdued manner in The Last Kiss (ill. 12 and 13) where the Virgin says goodbye for the last time to her crucified son. We would enjoy knowing more about this very original sculptor.

12. Aimé-Gustave Blaise (1877-1961)
On the left : Conscience, 1907
On the right : Last kiss, 1947
Plaster
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Didier Rykner

13. Aimé-Gustave Blaise (1877-1961)
The Last Kiss, 1947
Plaster - 78 x 49 x 22 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Didier Rykner


The museum in Roubaix had highlighted Agathon Leonard a few years ago. He is represented here with two works : a bust in enameled biscuit evoking a Peasant Woman (ill. 14) and a bronze relief founded by Thebault Freres (ill. 15). There is also a marble bust by Leonard which is still owned by the two donors.

14. Agathon Léonard (1841-1923)
The Peasant Woman
Bisque and polychrome enamel - 26 x 12 x 10 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN

15. Agathon Léonard (1841-1923)
Sainte Cecile, 1888
Bronze-37.5 x 21 x 2 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN


The only Parisian sculptor included in the donation, Paul Landowski, is represented here with a bronze bust (ill. 16) of the writer and politician Gaston Riou (1883-1958).

16. Paul Landowski (1875-1961)
Gaston Riou
Bronze - 64 x 54 x 24 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN



The collection also includes several sculptures by the Belgian artist, Constantin Meunier (ill. 3), notably a very moving Mater Dolorosa in bronze (ill. 17).

Let us point out as well two drawings :

- A sheet by Leon Comerre revealing the donors’ discernment in recognizing quality. Leon Commere, as we saw recently during the auction of some of his workshop holdings at the Hotel des Ventes, is not always consistent in his works. Yet here, the donated drawing (ill. 17) reveals an excellent treatment, on a par with the great draughtsmen of the second half of the 19th century, including Luc-Olivier Merson, also represented here (ill. 1).

17. Léon Comerre (1850-1916)
A figure draped
Pencil - 48 x 32 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN



- A beautiful watercolour illustrating a bird, either a grouse or a woodcock, attributed to Emile Bernard (ill. 18) [1]

18. Emile Bernard (?) (1868-1941)
A grouse or a woodcock
Watercolor - 19.2 x 16.8 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : RMN



In concluding, let us point out that the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille has also organized, at the same time as the Laporte-Pellegrin donation exhibition, a show entitled e.motion graphique. The aim is to juxtapose video works and old drawings. Although the reasons are not very clear (especially since, once again, there is no accompanying catalogue), this is a chance to admire over 170 sheets in the museum collection.


Didier Rykner, lundi 21 décembre 2009


Notes

[1] The donation also includes two drawings by Jean Joire, one of which is presumably a caricature of Carolus-Duran, two bronze medallions by Henri Biebuyck (Portrait of a Notable Figure) and Paul-Auguste Crepy), two sculptures (Triptoleme and Study for an Atlante) and a drawing by the Lille artist Rene-Marie-Joseph Leleu (1911-1984), a bronze bas-relief by Lucien Fenaux (1911-1969),…



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