La Piscine Exhibits its Weerts


1. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
Portrait of Victor Champier, 1912
Oil on Panel - 26.5 x 34.5 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent
Photo : Didier Rykner

19/7/12 - Acquisitions, publication, exposition - Roubaix, Musee d’Art et d’Industrie Andre Diligent - Jean-Joseph Weerts, who was born in Roubaix of Belgian parents, remained loyal to his home town which had granted him his first scholarship allowing him to pursue his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1924, he donated about fifty paintings to Roubaix, resulting in the creation of a Musee Weerts inside City Hall which subsequently closed in 1981.
The Musee d’Art et d’Industrie Andre Diligent (la Piscine), inaugurated in 2001, which houses a permanent space devoted to the artist, is thus partly the heir of the first municipal museum. Since 1989, when the establishment organized a Weerts restrospective, it has continuously added to this collection. At the time the holdings (paintings and drawings) included 89 items, but today these have risen to 324 and have just been featured in a complete catalogue [1].

The publication also presents several essays retracing the life of the artist (notably his ties to Roubaix) and the different aspects of his work. Weerts is undoubtedly a painter and draughtsman of uneven quality, but capable of very beautiful achievements. This is now obvious in a hang of a major part of the collection which is running until 2 September. Thus, among his portraits, featured in a single room, visitors will admire certain large formats while others are more formal, rather stiff. In fact, the painter accomplished his masterpieces in this genre with small formats on panels, such as the Portrait of Victor Champier (ill. 1) or that of Ferdinand Dutert (ill. 6), two recent acquisitions. This specialization in small portraits was indeed acknowledged by his contemporaries, including the president of the French Republic Armand Fallieres who in 1912 stated : "Mr. Weerts knows how to remain great, even when what he makes is small."

2. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
Christ Taken down from the Cross, 1875
Oil on Canvas - 166 x 276 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent
Photo : Musée d’Art et d’Industrie

Starting in 1883, Weerts turned to mural decorations and participated in several official projects for the Troisieme Republique, such as Paris City Hall or the new Sorbonne. He also painted a ceiling at the Hotel de la Monnaie and, in the provinces, Limoges City Hall. In Lyon, he painted the hemicycle at the College of Medecine and in Roubaix even the Charter of the Drapers, the decor for the Pierre de Roubaix salon at City Hall. Of course, and following the academic tradition he continued to observe, his mural paintings were first prepared with many drawings and studies now held at La Piscine.

Among his easel paintings, rather than some of the grandiloquent historical scenes including this almost kitsch Marat Assassine, we would point out his religious compositions such as The Virgin and Mary Magdalene at the Foot of the Cross or Christ Taken down from the Cross (ill. 2), both residing at Roubaix.

In concluding this rather long news item, we would like to mention the major recent acquisitions of Weerts works made by La Piscine [2] :


3. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
Tapestry of Flanders
(Study for Picardy)
Oil on Canvas - 33 x 41 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent
Photo : Musée d’Art et d’Industrie

4. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
The Lace of Valenciennes
(Study for Flander)
Oil on Canvas - 33 x 41 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent
Photo : Musée d’Art et d’Industrie


> During the Jacques Thuillier auction which we have already discussed here several times, the museum purchased two studies for corner decors painted at Paris City Hall (ill. 3 and 4).


5. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
An Eloquence Contest under Caligula in Lyon, 1905/1906-1911
Graphite and Oil on Canvas - 40.5 x 120 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Insustrie André Diligent
Photo : Musée d’Art et d’Industrie


> Another study, An Eloquence Contest under Caligula in Lyon (ill. 5), preparatory for the decor of the amphitheater of the College of Medicine in that city was acquired at auction last 19 June, from Artcurial, Paris for 7,100 euros (including charges).


6. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
Portrait of Ferdinand Dutert, 1891
Oil on Panel - 27 x 21 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent
Photo : Didier Rykner


> Several small portraits have joined the museum these last few years. One, that of Ferdinand Dutert (ill. 6), was purchased at auction in Roubaix [3]. It represents an architect, a student of Lebas, the author of, among other things, the famous Galerie des Machines during the Universal Exhibition of 1889. In fact, one of the building’s metallic pillars is visible in the background. Another likeness, that of Victor Champier, illustrated above (ill. 1), corresponds to a more recent purchase made in 2011 [4]. The model was a leading citizen of Roubaix, the director of the Ecole Nationale superieure des arts et industries textiles of the city and a generous patron of the Musee National de Roubaix [5].


7. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
Portrait of Edmond Cau, 1912
Oil on Panel - 46.3 x 37.5 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Insustrie André Diligent
Photo : Musée d’Art et d’Industrie

8. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
Portrait of Hélène de Kerjac
or The Beauty of Kerjac, 1924
Oil on Panel - 55 x 44.5 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent
Photo : Musée d’Art et d’Industrie


The portrait of Edmond Cau (ill. 7), added in 2012, was donated by one of his descendants, Mr. Cau. The son of one of Weerts’ friends, the Roubaix industrialist Joseph Cau, he posed for one of the figures in The Charter of the Drapers at City Hall and his sister sat as the model for one of the women in the decor at the Hotel de la Monnaie. A fourth small portrait, of Helene de Kerjac (ill. 8), who was one of the artist’s favorite models, was donated by the Societe des amis du musee in 2012 after having purchased it from the painter’s heirs.


9. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
Portrait of Mr Fanyau-Bonnave, 1870
Oil on Canvas - 92 x 73 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Insustrie André Diligent
Photo : Musée d’Art et d’Industrie

10. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
Portrait of Ms Fanyau-Bonnave, 1870
Oil on Canvas - 92 x 73 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Insustrie André Diligent
Photo : Musée d’Art et d’Industrie


The two large canvases donated by the models’ descendants are more severe and austere family portraits. They represent a Roubaix industrialist, Mr. Fanyau-Bonnave and his wife (ill. 9 and 10).


11. Jean-Joseph Weerts (1846-1927)
Study for a Monk
(for the Legend of Saint François d’Assise), circa 1877
Graphite and Black Chalk - 32 x 24.6 cm
Roubaix, Musée d’Art et d’Insustrie André Diligent
Photo : Musée d’Art et d’Industrie


Finally, a collection of 80 drawings in lead pencil (ill. 11), preparatory for various compositions, was acquired in May 2012 from the Tucker gallery in Mont-de-Marsan [6].

Curators : Chantal Achere, Amandine Delcourt and Alice Masse.

Collective work, Les Jean-Joseph Weerts de La Piscine, 2012, Editions invenit & La Piscine, 400 p., 24 euros. ISBN : 9782918698326.


Visitor information : Roubaix, La Piscine - Musee d’Art et d’Industrie Andre Diligent, 23 rue de l’Esperance, 59100 Roubaix. Tel : + 33 (0)3 20 69 23 60. Open every day except Monday, from 11 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Thursday, from 11 am to 8 pm on Friday, from 1 pm to 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Admission : 7 euros, 4.50 euros (reduced).

Version française


Didier Rykner, jeudi 26 juillet 2012


Notes

[1] This catalogue is to be published any day ; we were able to read it only in PDF format.

[2] All of the acquisitions will be included in the database currently being developed.

[3] May & Duhamel, auction held on 8 June 2009.

[4] Acquired for the very modest sum, given its quality, of 900 euros (without charges) during the Camard & Associes auction held on 24 June 2011 at the Hotel Drouot.

[5] We will one day have to take a closer look at the absolutely scandalous history of this national museum located in Roubaix before being abandoned by the government, with collections which were largely vandalized just a few decades ago...

[6] Although this does not fall in the domain of The Art Tribune, we would also point out that La Piscine is offering an exhibition highlighting the contemporary and extremely talented ceramic artist, Thiebaut Chague at the same time as the Weerts presentation, a visit we highly recommend.



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