First acquisitions by the Louvre-Abu Dhabi


1. Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)
Composition with blue, red,
yellow and black
, 1922
Oil on canvas - 79.6 x 49.8 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Christie’s
© 2009 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust
c/o HCR International Virginia, USA

12/6/09 – Acquisitions – Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi – The Louvre-Abu Dhabi acquisitions started at the Bergé auction as we had been the first to announce (see news item of 3/4/09). Nineteen objects in all have been purchased since then and are now on exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

We list acquisitions by French and foreign museums on a regular basis. The one in Abu Dhabi, as we have already written, has a legitimate right to acquire works. Our point of contention since the beginning is the way France has become involved in the matter, and particularly the manner in which French curators participate, under the approving eye of the President of the Louvre and the Ministry of Culture, in buying art works for a foreign museum.
Thus we will continue to inform our readers about acquisitions by Abu Dhabi regularly, as we do for any other museum. However, we will also point out possible conflicts of interest which might arise in the process. Alas, it is the case for a fibula coming from Domagnano (New item coming soon).


Paintings :

2. Giovanni Bellini (c.1438/1440-1516)
Madonna and Child, c. 1480-1485)
Oil on panel - 70.5 x 50.5 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Louvre-Abu Dhabi/Thierry Ollivier 2009



-  Giovanni Bellini, Madonna and Child (ill. 2) This theme appears frequently in Bellini’s work. The composition of the panel acquired by Abu Dhabi, with the Virgin praying before Jesus can be found in several other paintings, such as the one at the Fondazione Luciano e Agnese Sorlini in Bergamo or the one, from the Bellini workshop, at the National Gallery in London.

3. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-1682)
Jacob’s dream, c. 1665
Oil on canvas - 85 x 155 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Louvre-Abu Dhabi/Thierry Ollivier 2009



-  Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Jacob’s Dream (ill. 3) A Jacob’s Dream, dated 1660-1665 with several listed replicas, is held at the Hermitage. The painting acquired by Abu Dhabi, recently presented at the Maastricht Fair by the Moatti Gallery is unpublished. The only thing in common with the work in Saint Petersburg is the vertical format, as the composition is very different. The ladder with the angels going up and down (as in the passage from Genesis) has been replaced with a staircase which forms a long diagonal continued by Jacob’s body. Instead of a landscape at night, the background is totally dark (at least as seen in photographs) thus making the vision of the angels even more striking.

4. Jean-François de Troy (1679-1752)
Esther Fainting before Ahaseurus,, 1730
Oil on canvas - 197 x 146 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Louvre-Abu Dhabi/Thierry Ollivier 2009



- Jean-François de Troy, Esther Fainting before Ahaseurus (ill. 4) The canvas was acquired in Paris from the cabinet Bréton-Blondeau. The subject of Esther fainting before Ahasuerus appears frequently in 17th and 18th century painting and was particularly dear to Jean-François de Troy who produced several version, all different, before painting the preparatory cartoon for the tapestry recounting the end of the Story of Esther (Louvre) in 1737. Christophe Leribault, in his monograph on the painter [1], lists at least four, all held in French private collections except for this one now in Abu Dhabi found on the American art market.

5. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-8167)
Don Pedro de Toledo Kissing the Sword of Henri IV, 1820
Oil on panel - 48.5 x 40.5 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Louvre-Abu Dhabi/Thierry Ollivier 2009



- Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, Don Pedro de Toledo Kissing the Sword of Henri IV (ill. 5) Ingres exhibited Don Pedro de Toledo at the Salon de 1814 but the first version disappeared and is known only due to an engraving by Réveil. The subject is taken from the Histoire de Henri le Grand by Hardouin de Beaumont de Péréfixe. It represents the Spanish ambassador kneeling before the French king’s sword, held by a page, and “paying honour to the most glorious sword in Christiandom”. Like for all his troubadour paintings, the artist produced several versions. The second one, very close to the original, is today on display at the Musée du château de Pau. The painting acquired by Abu Dhabi is the third version, dated 1820 ; the scene also takes place in the Caryatid hall but the viewpoint is reversed. The fourth one, hanging on the landing of the Henri II staircase not far from the Caryatid hall entered the Louvre in 1981.

6. Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
The Bohemian, 1861-1862
Oil on canvas - 90.5 x 55.3 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Louvre-Abu Dhabi/Thierry Ollivier 2009

7. Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
Still life with Bag and Garlic, 1861-1862
Oil on canvas - 27 x 35 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Louvre-Abu Dhabi/Thierry Ollivier 2009


8. Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
Les Gitanos
Engraving
Photo : All Rights Reserved

- Edouard Manet, The Bohemian and Still life with Bag and Garlic (ill. 6 and 7) The two Manet works acquired by Abu Dhabi from a New York gallery were originally only one painting as these are fragments from a canvas entitled, Les Gitanos. The work, finished in 1862 reflecting Manet’s well-known interest in Spain, measured around 190 x 130 cm. It is known thanks to an engraving (ill. 8). The artist exhibited it in 1863 at the Martinet Gallery, then in 1867 at his own retrospective during the Exposition Universelle. Manet himself decided to cut up the canvas in different pieces, perhaps due to its poor critical reception. He in fact did this regularly thus destroying several works (the famous Dead Toreador, for example, is from a larger canvas, Episode from a Bull Race). Besides the two fragments acquired by Abu Dhabi (one of which, the Still life, resurfaced at Drouot two years ago), the Chicago Art Institute holds Boy with Pitcher which Durand-Ruel bought from Manet.


Sculpture :

9. Bavaria or Austria c. 1515
Christ Revealing His Wounds (detail)
Wood polychrome - 183 x 57 x 30 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Louvre-Abu Dhabi/Thierry Ollivier 2009



- Bavaria or Austria, around 1515, Christ Revealing His Wounds (ill. 9).

Art objects :

10. Venice, c. 1500
Ewer basin
Polychrome painted enamel on copper - Diameter : 49.5 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Christie’s



- Venice, around 1500, Ewer basin (ill. 10) This platter was acquired at the Bergé – Saint-Laurent auction for 421,000€ (including charges). There is a small Limoges enamel representing Saint Barbara in the center.

11. Ascribed to Jean Court, called
Vigier (? - before 1583)
Platter depicting the Wedding
Banquet of Psyche
, third quarter of
the XVIth century
Enamel paint in
grisaille on copper- Diameter : 43.8 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Christie’s



- Attributed to Jean Court, Platter depicting the Wedding Banquet of Psyche. Acquired at the Bergé – Saint-Laurent auction for 337,000€ (including charges), this platter was ascribed with all certainty to Jean Court. The list provided by France Museums mentions only an attribution, although it appears to be signed (I.C.). The banquet scene is taken from an engraving of the Master with the Dice, derived from Raphael, a composition found on four other platters by Jean Court : two are at the Victoria & Albert Museum, one at the British Museum and another one at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore.

12. Jean Court, called Vigier (? - before 1583)
Ewer Basin depicting the Triumph of Ceres,, 1558
Enamel paint in grisaille heightened with gold - Diameter : 43.8 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Christie’s



- Jean Court, Ewer Basin depicting the Triumph of Ceres, (ill. 11). The attribution of this enamel is acknowledged, unlike the previous one, as it is signed and dated. The idea for the composition is not known and it may be that Jean Court created this Triumph of Ceres. Like the other objects, it comes from the Bergé – Saint-Laurent collection and was acquired at the auction for 337,000€ (including charges).

13. Achille Hermansreyt
Canister Tower, 1657
Turned and carved ivory, leather case - H. 57 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Christie’s



- Achille Hermansreyt, Canister Tower (ill. 13). Also acquired at the Bergé – Saint-Laurent auction, for 457,000€ (including charges). This ivory tower has an accompanying travel case with the original leather in perfect condition. There are no other known works by this German artist.

14. Philippe Béhagle (1641 – 1705), after
Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (1636-1699),
Jean-Baptiste Belin de Fontenay (1653-1715)
et Guy-Louis Vernansal (1648-1729)
Beauvais Royal Manufactory,
Beginning of the XVIIIth century
The Embarkation of the Emperor,
Wool and silk - 369 x 269 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Louvre-Abu Dhabi/Thiery Ollivier 2009



- Philippe Béhagle, after Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer, Jean-Baptiste Blin de Fontenay and Guy-Louis Vernansal, A Hanging of the Story of the Emperor of China : The Embarkation of the Emperor, (ill. 14). This hanging was purchased from the Chevallier Gallery in Paris which had exhibited it at the last Biennale des Antiquaires (see news item of 13/9/08 where it is reproduced). Philippe Béhagle, a tapestry artist of Flemish origins, directed the Beauvais factory at the end of the 17th century.

5. Pierre Legrain (1888-1929)
Curule Stool, c. 1920-1925
Beech coloured like walnut tree - 53 x 49.5 x 30 cm
Abu Dhabi, Louvre-Abu Dhabi
Photo : Christie’s



- Pierre Legrain, Curule Stool (ill. 15). This is the last work purchased at the Bergé –Saint-Laurent auction, for 457,000€ (including charges). This stool is from the Jacques Doucet collection, Pierre Legrain’s leading patron.

The other acquisitions by the Louvre-Abu Dhabi do not fall into the historical period covered by The Art Tribune. There is notably an amphora with black figures attributed to the “Painter from Antimenese”, a schist sculpture of Bodhisattva standing, from the Gandhara region (Pakistan today), a marble head of Buddha from Northern China (Northern Qui dynasty, 550-577 A.D.), a section from a mameluke Koran (Egypt or Syria, second quarter of the 14th century). We will talk about the Domagnano fibula in a next News item.

The museum’s determination to create a “universal” museum from scratch (all techniques, all periods, all countries…) explains the diversity of these acquisitions (from Greek Antiquity to Mondrian). While the goal seems hard to achieve, there is no doubt that these first acquisitions are of very high quality. We would point out finally that although they do not include any nudes, there are several religious works (from both the Old and the New Testament).

Version française


Didier Rykner, vendredi 12 juin 2009


Notes

[1] Christophe Leribault, Jean-François de Troy, Editions Arthéna, Paris, 2002.



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