More Fabre works and other recent acquisitions in Montpellier


1. François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837)
Ulysses and his nurse
Oil on canvas - 100.5 x 148 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Frédéric Jaulmes /
Musée Fabre, Montpellier Agglomération

18/12/2007 — Acquisitions — Montpellier, Musée Fabre — Between 1980 and 1990 several major British and American museums acquired the few beautiful Fabre paintings available on the art market. Since being appointed head of the Musée Fabre, Michel Hilaire has obtained about ten works of this student of David for the collections, as revealed by visiting the current exhibition devoted to the founder of the establishment. The city of Montpellier’s remarkable and stimulating policy of acquisitions is characterized by a diversity, in both old and modern art, which could easily serve as an example for other cities in the provinces [1]. A year ago, it was able to purchase on the international art market an important canvas of the artist’s painted while in Italy, Ulysses and his nurse (ill. 1), its whereabouts unknown until now (but documented by an engraving and a study). Montpellier then acquired at auction from Christie’s New York, 25 January 2007 a Study for the Group of Achimelech and the children (ill. 2), a preliminary drawing for Saul’s Vision (Musée Fabre, 1803), for $16,800, that is 13,000 €.

2. François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837)
Achimelech and his sons, 1795
Black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash -
18.5 x 23.4 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Christie’s

3. François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837)
Portrait of the Young Edgar Clarke de Feltre, 1802
Oil on canvas - 144.8 x 103 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Sotheby’s


However, the most spectacular feat was the acquisition of the Portrait of the Young Edgar Clarke de Feltre (ill. 3), thanks to the patronage of Rambier Immobilier, at Sotheby’s New York last June 8th for $336,000 (that is 250,400 €). The oldest son of the French Chargé d’affaires in Florence is shown at the age of three chasing a butterfly in the forest. The flowers, vegetables and draped fabric are treated with the same finished porcelain look of the Dutch School. Offered at the Brame and Lorenceau Gallery in Paris in the early 80’s from which it entered the Stephen Hilbert Collection in Manhattan, this masterpiece then remained on the market for a while [2]. Its return to France represents a significant enrichment for national collections since it joins his father’s full-length portrait held in Nantes and his mother’s surrounded by her children in carnival costumes at the Musée Marmottan in Paris (1810). Just as in the Salon de 1810, the three paintings have been reunited in the present retrospective and are one of its major attractions. Across from them one can admire some other very touching likenesses of children from the ?iurlionis de Kaunas Museum ; the comparison with the portraits of the young Trioson by Girodet seems, at this point of the visit, inevitable.

4. François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837)
Ulysses and Neoptolemus Taking Hercules’
Arrows from Philoctetes
, 1800
Oil on canvas - 289 x 463 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : CICRP

5. François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837)
Ulysses and Neoptolemus Taking Hercules’
Arrows from Philoctetes
, 1800
Oil on canvas - 28 x 44 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Frédéric Jaulmes /
Musée Fabre, Montpellier Agglomération


Last but not least, the museum received a deposit from the Louvre of a large format, Ulysses and Neoptolemus Taking Hercules’ Arrows from Philoctetes (ill. 4) painted in 1800 for Lord Bristol. The government bought it in 1826 for 4000 francs and sent it to the French Embassy at the Vatican. It returned to Paris in 1980, but remained rolled up probably due to its monumental size (there was not even a color reproduction). Now restored by the CICRP in Marseilles, and cleaned, the canvas is one of the show’s revelations and sparkles with its limpid colors under the blue sky of its classical legend, having found its rightful home in Montpellier next to the study donated by the Spanish bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentina two years ago [3] (ill. 5). The excellently designed exhibition is a pleasant surprise ; it reveals a first-rate painter, barely a notch below the genius of his friend and rival Girodet, much more varied and stronger than might have been expected. A major artist who is now thoroughly represented in his city and who one day deserves to have a work in the Louvre’s galleries if this institution truly wishes to accurately reflect French painting. On condition that the “bulimic” museum in Montpellier leave something for the others....

The François-Xavier Fabre exhibition will be at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier from 14 November 2007 to 24 February 2008 and the in Turin from 11 March to 1st June 2008 at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e contemporanea.

The following are some of the acquisitions made over the last few years by the Musée Fabre :

— A Penitent Mary Magdalen by Jacques Blanchard (1600-1638), acquired in 2005.

— A preliminary drawing by Antoine Coypel for the figure of Anchises in the Descent of Aeneas into Hell from the former décor of the Palais Royal, which entered the collections in 2004 (ill. 6). The museum in Montpellier now owns three large canvases from this décor (the restoration of the Descent of Aeneas into Hell, in very poor condition, which belongs to the Louvre and might be deposited in Montpellier, is very complex). The drawing was acquired at Christie’s Paris on 27 March 2003 (sold for 1,500 €).

6. Antoine Coypel (1661-1722)
Study for Anchises, 1716
Black chalk, red chalk,
heightened with white - 22.9 x 12.3 cm
Montpellier , Musée Fabre
Photo : Frédéric Jaulmes /
Musée Fabre, Montpellier Agglomération



— Two drawings by Joseph-Benoît Suvée (1743-1807) in preparation for The Birth of the Virgin, the first was bought at the Ladrière Gallery in Paris in 2006, the second in 2007 directly from a private collection.

— A View of San Vito near Subiaco by Nicolas-Didier Boguet (ill. 7) acquired in 2004 from the La Scala Gallery in Paris.

7. Nicolas-Didier Boguet (1755-1839
View of San Vito near Subiaco, 1823
Tempera on canvas - 79 x 131 cm
Montpellier , Musée Fabre
Photo : Frédéric Jaulmes /
Musée Fabre, Montpellier Agglomération



— The Death of Hippolytus by Joseph Désiré Court (ill. 8), probably a study for the painting exhibited at the Salon de 1827.

8. Joseph Désiré Court (1797-1865)
The Death of Hippolytus, 1825
Oil on canvas - 35 x 46 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Frédéric Jaulmes /
Musée Fabre, Montpellier Agglomération



— A drawing by Ernest Michel acquired in 2002 (lead ... ; 45 x 30 cp.), a study for Knowledge Triumphs over Ignorance.

— Twilight at Palavas by the Montpellier painter Jean-Pierre Monseret (ill. 9) acquired from the Laura Pêcheur Gallery in 2004.

9. Jean-Pierre Monseret (1813-1888)
Twilight at Palavas, 1885
Huile sur toile - 35 x 54.8 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Frédéric Jaulmes /
Musée Fabre, Montpellier Agglomération



— A drawing by Dominique Papety representing Jugurtha in prison (ill. 10) from the Patrice Salet Gallery in Saint-Ouen end of 2005, which joins the important series of religious watercolors from the Sabatier donation by this disciple of Ingres from Marseilles

10. Dominique Papety (1815-1849)
Jugurtha
Pencil - 35 x 25 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : D. Rykner



— The Angel and the Child by Octave Tassaert, acquired from a private collection in 2006 (see News of 12/7/07) and which we reproduce here after its restoration (ill. 11). This canvas — or another version — is the one seen on the artist’s easel in the painting Bruyas in Tassaert’s Workshop already in Montpellier and donated by Bruyas himself. It illustrates a poem by the poet-baker from Nîme, Jean Reboul [4].

11. Octave Tassaert (1800-1874)
The Angel and the Child
Oil on canvas glued on a panel
(after restoration) - 57 x 41.2 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : D. Rykner



— Two paintings by Frédéric Bazille : Flowers (ill. 12) and Ruth and Booz (ill. 13) acquired in 2004 are among the most important additions. They come from the artist’s family, the first one after the sale at PIASA (Paris-Hôtel Drouot) of 21 June 2006, at which the museum was able to purchase two other works by the painter, The Young Street Singer and A Nude Male Reclining on the Grass.

12. Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870)
Flowers
Oil on canvas - 62.5 x 48 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Frédéric Jaulmes /
Musée Fabre, Montpellier Agglomération

13. Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870)
Ruth and Booz
Oil on canvas - 138 x 202 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Frédéric Jaulmes /
Musée Fabre, Montpellier Agglomération


— Eugène-Ernest Hillemacher : Clotilde de Surville, a large oil on canvas (ill. 14) dated 1853 and exhibited at the Salon the same year, acquired at public auction in Lille (Etude Mercier) on 12 June 2005.

13. Eugène-Ernest Hillemacher (1818-1887)
Clotilde de Surville, Salon of 1853
Oil on canvas - 259 x 187 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Frédéric Jaulmes /
Musée Fabre, Montpellier Agglomération



Falling outside The Art Tribune’s chronological span, we should point out the highly publicized Soulages donation, purchases of works by Jean Hugo and Simon Hantaï ; acquired thanks to the Société des Amis du Musée in 2006, after fundraising, of a sculpture in bronze by Germaine Richier, The Spider, while a landscape by Joseph Sima, bequeathed to the MNAM in 2007 on condition it be deposited at the Musée Fabre is already on display ;there are also works on loan from private collections (Joan Mitchell, Judith Reigl,...)

Version française


Michel de Piles, mardi 18 décembre 2007


Notes

[1] The musée Fabre which buys very important works at international prices, both at auction and from dealers, in France as well as abroad, also has acquired interesting objects related to its collection for just a few thousand euros.

[2] The painting was put up for auction on 24 January 2003, without attracting a buyer. The Musée Fabre benefited last June from its reputation as “burnt”, which in no way diminishes its quality. It is interesting to remark, for a history of taste, that the amount paid by the Musée Fabre is practically the same as that which the Parisian gallery asked for in 1986 ! Without taking into account the inflation over the twenty-year period, one can only imagine how the value of a Picasso, a Schiele or a David costing 250, 000€ in 1986 would have progressed.

[3] This study was put up for public auction in Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Etude Beaussant-Lefèvre on 17 December 2000 then on the American art market.

[4] Bruno Foucart and Didier Rykner, “The Angel and the Child, iconographie d’un thème romantique sous l’inspiration de Jean Reboul”, Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art français, Année 2003, p. 257-282.



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