Fundraisers Increasing in French Museums

1. Circle of the Guntersumer
Virgin with Child, around 1500
Wood, polychromy XIXe
Private Collection
Photo : Musée d’Unterlinden

24/10/12 - Fundraisers - Colmar, Musée d’Unterlinden and Montauban, Musée Ingres - Private individuals interested in contributing to national heritage will soon have a hard time choosing. First off, the Musée du Louvre has launched another fundraising drive just a year after acquiring, partly thanks to this practice, a painting by Lucas Cranach then there are also the BnF, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, and the Musée Gustave Courbet which have not yet closed their respective appeals. Now, at least two regional museums are seeking to draw the public’s interest for art purchases. The Musée d’Unterlinden in Colmar and the Musée Ingres in Montauban in fact would like to acquire, for the former, a sculpture, and for the latter, a painting with the help of art donors.

The sculpture which the Colmar museum wishes to add to its collections is a Virgin with Child (ill. 1) by an artist from the circle of Jos Guntersumer and his son Dominicus, active in Basel around 1500. In 1991, the museum had already acquired a Saint James produced by their studio. It considers that this addition would be a useful complement to the holdings which already include other examples of Basel productions. It also points out "the interest of the modern polychrome finish which constitutes an important testimony of one of the great figures of Colmar in the late 19th and 20th centuries : Théophile Klem.". This Neo-Gothic sculptor and collector was also the president of the Société Schongauer.
This sculpture, currently residing in a private collection, is on sale for 30,000€.

2. Jean-François Gilibert (1783-1850)
Ingres visiting the new drawing school
in Montauban with his friend Gilibert in 1826

Oil on Canvas - 38 x 46 cm
Paris, Art Market
Photo : Musée Ingres

The Musée Ingres also wishes to purchase a work, from the Hubert Duchemin Gallery in Paris, a painting representing Ingres visiting the new drawing school in Montauban with his friend Gilibert in 1826 (ill. 2). The canvas, quoted by Daniel Ternois in his edition of Les Lettres d’Ingres à Gilibert [1], is given to this close friend of Ingres. Gilibert in fact was an amateur painter, especially landscapes [2]. The canvas is indeed highly interesting and attractive, although this is a surprising attribution, precisely because of its quality. The asking price is 90,000€ and the goal is to raise 15,000€, the balance having been found elsewhere.

This increase in public fundraising drives will probably raise problems at some point especially since it does not concern just acquisitions (Colmar is launching a drive at the same time for two painting restorations). This is because on the one hand museums are openly competing against each other for the public’s generosity and on the other because what should be a rare procedure, reserved for exceptional works, now runs the risk of becoming the norm. Last but not least, this will also encourage the state, which is already particularly stingy when it comes to funding museums, to reduce budgets even further and demand that establishments find the money on their own.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 25 octobre 2012


[1] Lettres d’Ingres à Gilibert, Edition established, presented and annotated by Daniel and Marie-Jeanne Ternois, Honoré Champion, 2005, p. 42.

[2] Ternois, op. cit., p. 51.

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