Publication of "La recherche au Musée du Louvre 2011"

30/12/12 - Museum - Paris, Musée du Louvre - A little over a year ago, we had welcomed (see news item in French) the publication by the Musée du Louvre of a hefty volume devoted to its scholarly activities. We regretted the fact that it was not for sale as the information provided (and the quality of its editing) would have no doubt ensured its success. We found out later that it would be made available online.

We now have good news, which is that it has indeed been posted, though without any fanfare. Readers can now download it here in several PDF files, to obtain the entire contents of this journal (the links appear to the right of the page).

There is still more good news in that the 2011 edition, listing all the events occurring or organized that year, has just appeared on paper, still not for sale but which will most likely be available online to all soon.

Among the many items of information contained in this journal (some of which have of course already appeared in articles on this site), we would point out notably, though not in an exhaustive way, the following :

- The actual launching (the research had been going on for some years already) of a database of 16th century French paintings. Directed by Cécile Scailliérez, it will be structured much like that of RETIF, the database for Italian paintings in French collections [1]. Its aim is to eventually list the ensemble of 16th century French paintings, residing either in France or abroad, in order to establish the most complete corpus possible. Sixteenth century Dutch paintings previously attributed to the French school will also be included so as to help in setting up perhaps a comparable project for 16th century Dutch paintings belonging to French collections.
We should point out here that two years ago the Louvre started an equivalent inventory for Iberian paintings held in France, BAILA (Base d’Art Ibérique et Latino-Americain) [2], directed by Guillaume Kientz. This database, developed in collaboration with the INHA, will also appear on their AGORHA platform.

- The study of two unpublished collections of plaster medals by David d’Angers. The low esteem for 19th century plaster casts no doubt explains the little knowledge of the collections held in French museums of medallions by this sculptor in this material, until recently. After the rediscovery and publication by the Bibliothèque nationale of its own collection (see article in French), today two other ensembles are being studied and restored to result in the development of a database which we hope will be published and/or posted online.
The first collection, of 118 medallions (ill. 1), comes from the study of the founder Louis Richard. An inventory had not been established as it had been acquired in 1921 for the cast collections. However, these are in fact original works, from which the bronze medals were founded. The second collection is made up of 143 medallions and was deposited between 1913 and 2001 at the Musée de la Monnaie. The provenance and date of entry into the collections is unknown (!), as well as their status (cast, original ?). According to Béatrice Tupinier-Barrillon who is carrying out this project along with Isabelle Leroy-Jay-Lemaistre, their study should allow them to "result in a certain number of definitions, that of ’platre original’, and ’platre de reference’ and’ tirage de diffusion’ ".

1. Pierre-Jean David-d’Angers (1788-1856)
Medallion of Jacques-Louis David
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : RMNGP/P. Philibert

2. Ary Scheffer (1795-1858)
The Patriotic Devotion of
the Six Bourgeois of Calais in 1342

Oil on Canvas - 300 x 600 cm
Paris, Assemblée Nationale
Photo : C2RMF/G. Dufresne

- The restoration of a little-known painting by Ary Scheffer representing The Patriotic Devotion of the Six Bourgeois of Calais in 1342 (ill. 2), dating from 1819. The work was rarely seen as it was deposited by the Louvre, probably around 1820, at the Assemblée Nationale, then since 1968 in the Parliament rooms at the château in Versailles. The painting was once again hung at the Assemblée Nationale after it was restored. Although this is a deposit from the Louvre in a building which is not a museum (thus supposedly not permitted by law), the fact that this is practically its original location (the Salle des Conférences) justifies such a return, especially since it is now relatively easy to visit the Palais Bourbon as it is open to individuals from Monday to Saturday when the Assembly is not in session and on Saturday when it is.

3. Arch at the Palais des Tuileries
reinstalled in the Tuileries Gardens
Photo : Didier Rykner

In concluding, although we mentioned the reinstallation of an arch at the Palais des Tuileries inside the Louvre (see news item in French), we had not pointed out a second arch in the Tuileries Gardens (ill. 3). Less well preserved than the first, this one was located along the terrace at the Jeu de Paume until 1989 before being taken down. Now restored, it is visible along the terrace of the Bord-de-l’Eau on the north side of the Tuileries Gardens.

Version française

Didier Rykner, dimanche 6 janvier 2013


[1] This means, alas, that it will be housed on the INHA’s AGORHA system which we have already stated on several occasions is not very user-friendly. However, we have been told it will be improved...

[2] The initial title, GRACIA (still found on the Louvre’s internet website) was dropped.

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