Fundraising : A Gauguin for Lyon

24/06/10 – National treasure – Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts – The Commission consultative des trésors nationaux has just listed a painted relief by Paul Gauguin (ill. 1), currently in a private collection abroad, in this category. The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, which wishes to acquire the work, has launched a fundraising drive.
This sculpture is one of four elements, with the other three held in a private collection in Switzerland. The composition [1] was inspired by a photograph taken by Georges Spitz (ill. 2), Maori Drinking at a Waterfall, in Tahiti in 1888. In it, he refers to a text by Pierre Loti, The Wedding of Loti, which also takes place in Tahiti, blending it with Polynesian legends recounting the story of a young woman and a fountain. In 1893, Gauguin painted a picture on this same theme, entitled Pape Moe (Mysterious Water) (ill. 3), exhibited at the Durand-Ruel Gallery, today in Zurich at the Fondation Anda-Bührle, then did a watercolour (Art Institute of Chicago, ill. 4), and finally a monotype before sculpting this panel to which he added three others representing Polynesian mythological figures.

1. Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Pape Moe (Mysterious Water), 1894
Wood of Oak - 81.5 x 62 x 5 cm
Private collection
Photo : Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

2. Charle-Georges Spitz (1857-1894)
Maori Drinking at a Waterfalls, 1888
Photo : Wikimedia Commons

The addition of this Gauguin to a French collection is highly desirable, not only for its aesthetic qualities and its obvious importance but also because the Louvre Abou Dhabi has been attempting to acquire it. The procedure stipulated that it should first be offered to the Musée d’Orsay which, as a “grand department [2]”, informed the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. The latter already owns an important painting by Paul Gauguin (Nave nave mahana) from 1896, only three years later than that of the sculpted relief. It also holds an important 19th century French sculpture collection but Gauguin is one of the few great artists which is still missing.

3. Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Pape Moe
(Mysterious Water), 1893
Oil on canvas - 99 x 75 cm
Zürich, Fondation Anda-Bührle
Photo : Wikimedia Commons

4. Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Pape Moe
(Mysterious Water), 1893
Watercolor - 35.2 x 25.5 cm
Chicago, Art Institute
Photo : Wikimedia Commons

We take this opportunity to underscore the very positive patronage period for this museum since it acquired the Nicolas Poussin (see news item of 18/7/07). Seventeen companies had joined [3] in raising the needed funds. Following this first successful acquisition, the group decided to continue their patronage by establishing a Club du Musée Saint-Pierre which for the moment includes eleven founding members [4]. The association set up an endowment fund, recently authorized by French law and similar to that practiced in the United States. Each member pledges 50,000 € per year for a period of three years [5]. Other companies may join the club, especially today to contribute towards the Gauguin purchase.
Finally, there exists also another club for private patrons (with comfortable financial means), the Cercle Poussin with annual membership rates varying from 1.000 to 3.000 € [6].

Didier Rykner, jeudi 24 juin 2010


[1] The information recounting the background of the painting is taken from a study written by Stéphane Paccoud, a curator at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon.

[2] This is the equivalent of a “consulting” role for French museums for the period between 1848-1914.

[3] We wish to remind our readers of the Louvre’s positive and important role in fact on this occasion.

[4] The eleven companies are : Biomérieux, Caisse d’épargne Rhône-Alpes, CIC Lyonnaise de Banque, Crédit Agricole Centre-est, Dixence, Financière Norbert Dentressangle, GL-Events, KPMG, MAZARS, SEB and Toupargel.

[5] The benefits for these companies include a 60% tax deduction of the total donation, not exceeding 0.5% of annual turnover and other advantages corresponding to 25% of the amount. In this way, a 50,000 € contribution for example really costs only 7,500 €. For national treasures, there is a 90% tax deduction.

[6] To find out more about the Club du Musée Saint-Pierre or the Cercle Poussin, readers may contact Agnès Cipriani, Chargée du développement and mécénat at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon.

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