Five Drawings by Navez for the Musée du Mont de Piété in Bergues

11/1/13 - Acquisitions - Bergues, Musée du Mont-de-Piété - The Musée du Mont-de-Piété in Bergues acquired five drawings by François-Joseph Navez, four of which have precise dates, from a private individual in 2012.

1. François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869)
Jesus Sleeping, 1834
Graphite – 51.1 x 35.6 cm
Bergues, Musée du Mont-de-Piété
Photo : Musée du Mont-de-Piété

2. François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869)
Jesus Sleeping, 1834
Oil on Canvas - 243 x 190 cm
Houyet, Eglise de l’Assomption
Photo : Pierre Masson

3. François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869)
The Visitation
Graphite – 37.3 x 27.2 cm
Bergues, Musée du Mont-de-Piété
Photo : Musée du Mont-de-Piété

The first sheet (ill. 1) is preparatory, with very few variations, for one of the most important paintings (ill. 2) by this artist who was a student of David during the latter’s exile in Brussels. It was commissioned in 1833 by King Leopold for the chapel of his wife Louise, the daughter of Louis-Philippe, whom he had wed the previous year, and the work resides today in the church of the Assumption in Houyet (Belgium). Representing Jesus Sleeping, it was exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1835 and the one in Brussels in 1837, undergoing a restoration a few years ago (see this article in French).
This black chalk drawing with fine strokes, shows practically no difference with the final composition. In fact, it bears the same date as the painting, 1834 [1]. One of the other sheets acquired by Bergues, representing The Visitation (ill. 3) is however not precisely dated and we have not found the corresponding painting in the works we consulted [2]. Nevertheless, it presents the same stylistic characteristics and might also very well date from the 1830’s, a particularly rich period in religious compositions for the painter.

4. François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869)
Allegory, 1835
Graphite – 16.6 x 20.5 cm
Bergues, Musée du Mont-de-Piété
Photo : Musée du Mont-de-Piété

5. François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869)
Young Italian Woman Seated, 1851
Graphite – 38.3 x 33.6 cm
Bergues, Musée du Mont-de-Piété
Photo : Musée du Mont-de-Piété

6. François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869)
Woman Holding up a Young Man Fainting, 1859
Graphite – 35.7 x 28.8 cm
Bergues, Musée du Mont-de-Piété
Photo : Musée du Mont-de-Piété

Nor were we able to identify the painted compositions for the other three drawings which they might prepare. Chronologically, the first one is an allegory (ill. 4), then a winged figure, dated 1835, followed by an Italian woman seated (ill. 5) from 1851, typical of popular Roman characters often painted in the first half of the 19th century by artists such as Schnetz, Léopold Robert, Papety or Bonnefond, as well as Navez.
Finally, the last sheet (ill. 6), whose subject here again has not been identified (at least by us or by the museum), dates from 1859 and is annotated : "during my illness." The artist, who died only ten years later, but who stopped painting in 1862, was in fact already ailing and the late works produced during his last period were partly executed by his student Joseph Portaels [3]. The drawing, representing a Woman Holding up a Young Man Fainting, nevertheless still reveals a very steady hand.

Version française

Didier Rykner, dimanche 13 janvier 2013


[1] The back shows an inscription in the artist’s hand : "drawing after the painting which I did for the Queen’s chapel at the château of Laeken which was then exhibited in the first salon on the lower floor and now in the church of the town where the King has his château in the Ardennes."

[2] Navez was highlighted notably in an exhibition in 2000 at Coutances, François-Joseph Navez. La Nostalgie de l’Italie. We used this catalogue, written by Denis Coekelberghs, Alain Jacobs and Pierre Loze, to write this news item.

[3] According to the catalogue quoted in the previous footnote.

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