Naigeon Drawings Acquired by Several Museums

1. Jean-Claude Naigeon (1753-1832)
Study of a Prophet
Black and White Chalks - 58.5 x 44 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Galerie Nathalie Motte Masselinck

7/6/12 - Acquisitions - Louvre, Ensba and National Gallery in Washington - Some time back, we had mentioned an exhibition of Jean-Claude Naigeon drawings at the Nathalie Motte Masselinck gallery. For many visitors, it was the first time they had ever heard of this Neo-Classic artist from Dijon. The sheets on view came directly from his heirs and several museums took the opportunity to make purchases.
One is a museum in the provinces which acquired no less than a dozen works we cannot discuss now as the operation must first be validated by the regional commission for acquisitions (although a simple formality). The other establishments are the Louvre, the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the National Gallery in Washington.

The drawings selected by the Louvre, of two different types, were among the most beautiful in the exhibition. The first is a Study of a Prophet (ill. 1). There is no information concerning who this prophet is nor the composition it prepares. No doubt a more thorough study of Naigeon’s work will allow us to answer this question, unless this is purely an exercice with no direct connection to a specific painting. The monumental character of the figure is remarkable as is the quality of the draperies and the reflections of light which seem to add movement to these.

2. Jean-Claude Naigeon (1753-1832)
Orestes Plagued by the Furies
Pen and Brown Ink, Grey Wash - 30 x 44.5 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Galerie Nathalie Motte Masselinck

The second sheet acquired by the Louvre is an overall study in pen and wash for a mythological scene which was perhaps not painted : Orestes Plagued by the Furies (ill. 2). As stated in the catalogue published by the gallery, the style as well as the violent, intense character of this scene recalls English painters such as Blake or Flaxman. Naigeon’s technique in this work also evokes French artists like Philippe-Auguste Hennequin who in fact painted the same subject in a work residing at the Louvre.

The Ensba purchased a large composition representing Orpheus Charming Pluto and Proserpina into Hell (ill. 3). Although the central scene is treated in a very classical manner, the damned figures, watched by Cerberus on the edge of the sheet, are closer to the inspiration found in the preceding work.

3. Jean-Claude Naigeon (1753-1832)
Orpheus Charming Pluto and Proserpina into Hell
Pen and Brown Ink, Grey Wash - 45 x 61.2 cm
Paris, Ecole nationale supérieur des beaux-arts
Photo : Galerie Nathalie Motte Masselinck

4. Jean-Claude Naigeon (1753-1832)
Timoleon and the People of Syracuse
Black Chalk - 28.5 x 39.2 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Photo : Galerie Nathalie Motte Masselinck

Finally, an American museum, the National Gallery in Washington, added a black chalk drawing to its collections : Timoleon and the People of Syracuse (ill. 4). Timoleon’s gesture pointing a finger towards heaven while the peopleof Syracuse thank him for restoring democracy, recalls that of Socrates in David’s The Death of Socrates. In 1780 - thus seven years before David - Naigeon had also painted a Death of Socrates held today at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nancy.

Version française

Didier Rykner, vendredi 8 juin 2012

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