Latest Acquisitions at the Musée des Augustins

1. Jules Garipuy (1817 - 1893)
Climbing to the Hermitage of Divino Amore, 1846
Oil on canvas -
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Musée des Augustins / Daniel Martin

30/4/14 - Acquisitions - Toulouse, Musée des Augustins - Legend goes that he discouraged his more timid students : "In that way, he did a great service to both art and artists" [1]... Jules Garipuy taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse and directed the Musée des Augustins which today holds seven of his paintings ; one was purchased in 2013, from Jordi de Nadal in Barcelona : entitled Climbing to the Hermitage of Divino Amore, it was painted in 1846, probably at the end of his stay in Italy or shortly after returning to Toulouse (ill. 1). Italian peasants are making the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Divino Amore, a sanctuary in Rome built in 1745 after a picture of the Virgin saved a pilgrim from an attack by mad dogs. The painter depicts the regional costumes of the travelers in a picturesque manner, showing them at all ages of life ; he places the viewer on the road with them, as if he were setting out to meet them. In the background, we see the Roman countryside bathed in a cold light and dominated on the left by the dome of Saint Peter’s.
An article in Le Journal de Toulouse of 13 September 1846 evoked an exhibition of six paintings by Garipuy : a sleeping bacchante, a woman improviser, two paintings after old masters - Profane Love and Sacred Love after Titian (residing at the Augustins in Toulouse) and the Portrait of Cesare Borgia after Raphael - as well as a "group of peasants walking" whose description could easily correspond to this recently acquired canvas :
"In Rome, Mr. Garipuy has worked hard and the six paintings he has submitted for our evaluation are brilliant evidence of it. [...] One first notices a Group of Peasants Walking in the Roman Countryside[...] One must be in Italy to grasp these pronounced type of inhabitants from the Roman states with such veracity. These are indeed the villagers such as we had imagined them, with their faces tanned by the sun, their black and untamed beards, their brown capes and their hats with large rims and conic form !...And these young girls, [...] these short colorful dresses showing their naked legs as tanned as their complexion, but remarkable in their firm contours and the powerful bulges of their muscles...But have we nothing to say about these older women which add to the harmony of the painting !...[...]the harsh work of the fields have slackened their features[...]This is the idea which Mr. Garipuy has rendered with his faithful brush and which he allows us to savor by means of the prestige of the bright colors, well thought out and enhanced with details of the location... The countryside is a bit cold and sad but this is its character in Rome." The dual theme of the walk and the Italian peasants can be found in The Stop (1883), a later painting by Jules Garipuy, also residing at the Augustins and which, compared to the new acquisition, reflects the evolution in his style. the museum collections in fact reveal the diversity of his painting, from Attila’s Departure after the Sacking of Aquileia to Baby Puppet...

2. Agostino Tassi (1578-1644)
Troy Burning
Oil on canvas
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Musée des Augustins / Daniel Martin

An unpublished painting, Troy Burning by Agostino Tassi (1556-1644) joined the collections in 2012 (ill. 2) after being acquired directly from a private individual. Its attribution to Tassi as suggested by Axel Hémery was confirmed by Patrizia Cavazzini (from a photograph) and the work was restored by Jessica Coppieters. Old repainted additions were removed, though some were maintained and missing areas restored. The artist produced many night scenes of battles and sieges of cities, particularly at the end of his life. Here we see a city in flames, its outline backlighted, along a river, made up of differing architectural elements. At the top left of the composition, Aeneas is seen carrying Anchises on his shoulders, with the young Ascanius at his side ; the figure left behind them is probably Creusa. On the bottom right, a superb soldier with feathered helmet, is walking towards a boat, accompanied by a female figure, goddess or human. In the sky, a goddes observes the scene, next to him two animals - Aphrodites’ swans ? Hera’s peacocks ? - while the winged and helmeted figure behind her might be the spirit of war. The fire enables the artist to deploy dramatic light effects, at the same time underscoring the many small human figures highlighted in white. The colors of the draperies in blue and red bring order to the chaos of the panicked crowd.
This canvas is quite similar to another painting by Tassi presented by the Galerie Canesso although the reference to Troy is less obvious : in any case, we see the same theme of a walled city surrounded by water, attacked from the outside, beset by fire on the inside ; the motif of the bridge with its many arches is also repeated here along with the figure of the goddess overlooking the scene from the clouds above, draped in an ample robe inflated by the wind, this time accompanied by Cupid. According to the entry for the painting provided by the Galerie Canesso, this could be an illustration of the capture of Antwerp by Alexander Farnese (545-1592).
Two marbles by sculptors from Toulouse joined the collections in 2013 : a bust of a young man by François Lucas, acquired from Talabardon and Gautier (ill. 3). François Lucas trained alongside his father, Pierre Lucas (1692-1752) before entering the school of the Académie royale des arts in Toulouse where he won first prize in sculpture in 1761 for his bas relief David and Abigail. After becoming a member of the Académie toulousaine in 1763, he was appointed professor in 1764, and had among his students Bernard Lange, Jean-Pierre Vigan and a certain Dominique Ingres. He received many commissions for décors in Toulouse, such as for the mouth of the Canal des Deux-Mers, an order made by the Etats du Languedoc in 1771. He spent time in Florence and Rome in 1766 then again in 1773-1774, bringing back antique pieces as well as Greek and Roman medals. Considering that Antiquity was an essential model for training young artists, he participated in the creation of the museum in Toulouse which opened its doors in 1795. This charming portrait of a child, in fact inspired by antique busts, rounds out the already rich terracotta collection by this artist at the Augustins - a Warrior, a Zephyr... The collections also include portraits in medallion form - Marie Leczynska and Louis XV, President Roux de Puyvert -, but few marble busts except for a strange one of Louis XVI transformed into Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau.

3. François Lucas (1736-1813)
Bust of a child
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Musée des Augustins / Daniel Martin

4. Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900)
Susanna Bathing
Marble - 67 x 42.5 x 35 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Musée des Augustins / Daniel Martin

Alexandre Falguière, a native of Toulouse, delved extensively into mythology seeking pretexts for female nudes : the Woman with Peacock, the Huntress Nymph, Diana of course ; all these sculptures can be seen at the Musée des Augustins. Biblical subjects are much more scarce in his art, though he did treat the theme of Susanna bathing : a marble acquired by the museum from the Esitir Gallery (ill. 4) presents the young woman turning her head, no doubt alerted by a sound ; she has not yet caught sight of the two old men. Other sculptures by the artist and a painting exhibited at the Salon of 1879, illustrate different moments of this same episode, showing Susanna standing, sitting, her hair either pulled back or loose. The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Narbonne owns one version, the Musée Rodin holds a painted study presented on their website as a study for Diana.

5. Fragment of the antiphonary of Mirepoix, 1533
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Musée des Augustins / Daniel Martin

Finally, in 2013, seven fragments of the Mirepoix antiphonary - notably lettrines or "drop caps", large initials marking the beginning of a text - were pre-empted for 8,000 euros at an auction organized by Art Valorem on 14 October 2013 (ill. 5). An antiphonary - from the Latin antiphona - is a book of liturgical songs containing the text and the musical notes for the antiphons sung during services. The one produced between 1533 and 1535 for Philippe de Lévis (1466-1537), Bishop of Mirepoix, a generous art patron who commissioned many works, is made up of two volumes today held at the Bibliothèque municipale in Foix ; it was presented at the exhibition "Trésors enluminés de Toulouse à Sumatra" (see the article). The rich illuminations which blend the medieval models with the allusions to Antiquity characteristic of the Renaissance - columns and pilasters, candelabra, draperies, bodies inspired by Antiquity - reflect the skill of the artist, still anonymous and nicknamed the "Master of Philippe de Lévis-Mirepoix" by Dominique Cordellier. Unfortunately, this manuscript was cut up and all of its recorded initials and lettrines scattered. In 2003, the Louvre acquired the letter D in which we see the Baptism of Christ ; Ecouen has the letter S illustrating Pentecost ; three lettrines belong to the Bibliothèque in Foix ; the Musée d’Art et d’histoire in Narbonne also owns an S found at the time of the exhibition. Until now the Augustins owned five initials, plus two assembled with various elements and fragments of borders decorated with candelabra which round out these new elements, particularly the letters A, D and H which contain horns of plenty, a sphinx and other imaginary animals, fruit and foliage, ideal for illustrating a poem by Rimbaud if only he had not used simply vowels.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mercredi 30 avril 2014


[1] L’Art Méridional, 1st April 1898

imprimer Print this article

Previous article in News Items : The LACMA Acquires the Small Odalisque by Ingres

Next article in News Items : Van Dyck’s Self-portrait Joins the National Portrait Gallery