Lyon Wishes to Acquire Two Fragonard Works, Listed as National Treasures

8/12/12 - Fundraising drive - Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts - The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon is closing its fundraising drive for the purchase of an Ingres painting on 15 December, but it is continuing its ambitious acquisitions policy as announced yesterday in the Journal Officiel with the launch of a new appeal for 1.5 million euros, addressed only to business companies this time, for a pair of landscapes by Jean-Honoré Fragonard which are listed as national treasures [1] (ill. 1 and 2).

1. Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1805)
The Rock, c. 1763-1765
Oil on Canvas - 53 x 62 cm
Paris, Art Market
Photo : Galerie Jean-François Heim

2. Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1805)
Watering Place, c. 1763-1765
Oil on Canvas - 51.5 x 63 cm
Paris, Art Market
Photo : Galerie Jean-François Heim

Of similar size, the two works were executed closely in time and the subjects are complementary. However, there is no proof that they are companion pieces. In fact, Watering Place, whose provenance can be traced back to the 18th century (held in the collection of Madame de Saint-Sauveur and auctioned off in 1776), was perhaps associated with another landscape, Stormy Weather. The Rock was documented only in the second half of the 19th century, appearing in the collection of Hippolyte Walferdin where it joined Watering Place. Later sold separately, they were reunited in the collections of first, G. de Lauverjat and then Arthur Veil-Picard before being parted again.

We can only hope that these two superb paintings which have been brought back together and are being offered by a private collector through the Jean-François Heim Gallery will be acquired by the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. We should point out that over the past few years French museums have added several Fragonard works to their collections : in 2004, the Louvre received a donation of "acceptance in lieu" (see news item in French) consisting of two canvases from the Veil-Picard collection while two sketches belonging to Hippolyte Walferdin, the greatest Fragonard collector in the 19th century, joined the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Angers the same year (see news item in French).

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 10 décembre 2012


[1] To be precise, these are not strictly speaking national treasures and as such have not been denied export license. As Claire Chastanier, from the Services des Musées de France was gracious enough to explain, these two paintings are "cultural assets considered to have ’major heritage interest’ " . From a fiscal standpoint, the impact remains the same.

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