Recent acquisitions of the Musée départemental de l’Oise in Beauvais (France)

1. François Bouchot (1800-1842)
Mary Magdalene Witness of the Death of Christ
Oil on canvas - 24 x 52 cm
Beauvais, Musée départemental de l’Oise
Photo : Musée départemental de l’Oise

5/05/2007 — Acquisitions — Beauvais (France), Musée départemental de l’Oise — Certain small museums are constant proof that it is possible to enrich a collection with only limited means at their disposal. This is the case of the one in Beauvais which applies a wise policy of acquisitions, as demonstrated by the following works, which entered in 2006 and beginning of 2007.

The decorative mural of the church of the Madeleine in Paris, turned down by Delaroche, was divided in 1836 among several painters, Jules Ziegler for the “cul-de-four” in the apse and six artists for each of the six arched compartments at the top of the walls of the nave. François Bouchot, a student of Regnault and Lethière, winner of the Prix de Rome in 1823 (tied with Auguste-Hyacinthe Debay) completed his last work here, passing away shortly after having finished, at the age of 41. He signed it : “Bouchot jam moriens pinxit” (“Bouchot, already dying, painted it”).
The museum has acquired [1] one of his studies painted for this piece (ill. 1). It seems to belong to the early stages of conception as the work presents many variations with the final painting, even if the general lines of the composition are already in place. The Virgin’s gesture and Mary Magdalene’s expression reflect more pathos and expressivity than in the definitive version. Bouchot demonstrates here a true romantic temperament.

2. François Bouchot (1800-1842)
Mary Magdalene Witness of the Death of Christ
Oil on canvas - 30.2 x 63
.5 cm
Present whereabouts unknown
Photo : Sotheby’s

2. François Bouchot (1800-1842)
Mary Magdalen Witness of the Death of Christ
Oil on canvas - Unknown size
Present whereabouts unknown

There are at least two other similar studies by Bouchot, both belonging to a later period. The first, signed and dated 1838, was sold at Sotheby’s in New York on June 21, 2006 [2] (ill. 2). The second (ill. 3), very close to the final work, was on the Parisian art market some years ago ; it bore a fake Delacroix signature.

The Beauvais Museum had acquired in 2001 a preparatory sketch for an aborted project by Paul Delaroche. Studies for some of the other compartments, painted or drawn, are held in various French museums : The Death of Mary Magdalene by Emile Signol (Roubaix, oil on canvas), Mary Magdalene in the House of Simon the Pharisee by Auguste Couder (Louvre, large drawing), The Holy Women at Christ’s Tomb by Léon Cogniet (Orléans, several drawings and paintings) [3].

4. Charles Landelle (1821-1908)
The Angels of Christ’s Passion Bearing the Chalice, 1847
Oil on panel
Beauvais, Musée départemental de l’Oise
Photo : Musée départemental de l’Oise

The Angels of Christ’s Passion Bearing the Chalice by Charles Landelle [4] (ill. 4) was engraved in 1847 with, as its pair, The Angels of Christ’s Passion Bearing the Cross of Thorns. These two compositions were the source of many signed reproductions by the artist, as well as copies, as often happened in the case of Landelle. An almost identical painting, which at the time was part of a private collection in Dijon [5], was shown at the retrospective of the artist in Laval in 1987. The work is typical of Landelle’s style, infused with a softness that is never affected, of Corregesque influence.

5. Léon Bonnat (1833 - 1922)
View of the Lake
at Gérardmer
, 1893
Oil on canvas - 46 x 65 cm
Beauvais, Musée départemental de l’Oise François Bouchot
Photo : Musée départemental de l’Oise

6. Pierre-Victor Galland (1822-1892)
Forest Clearing at Night
Oil on board - 28 x 36.5 cm
Beauvais, Musée départemental de l’Oise
Photo : Musée départemental de l’Oise

Two atypical works have joined the French Symbolist collection which has been patiently built up since the 70’s and is one of the most complete in the provinces. They are two “mysterious landscapes” by two famous “pompier” painters, Léon Bonnat and Pierre-Victor Galland [6]. But we shall not dwell here on what at first glance might seem to be a contradiction : the most academic painters can often surprise us and are capable of freer and more modern pieces than the label put on them by art critics. In fact, starting in 1880, Léon Bonnat was able to escape from his reputation as a fashionable portrait artist with “pochades”, quick sketches full of sensitivity, using light strokes in a calligraphic style à la Whistler, Stevens or Boldini (View of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, Bonnat Museum, Bayonne). In a range of colors reduced to only black, white and bluish-gray, the View of the Lake at Gérardmer (ill. 5), signed and dated in 1893, possesses an evanescent light, an unreal starkness in the outline of the trees and a Japanese influence in the layout which link it to the Symbolist atmosphere, somewhere between Pointelin and Carrière. Another painting, in a similar vein, hangs at the Musée Départemental Georges de la Tour Vic-sur-Seille (France), but dates from 1884 [7].

7. Pierre-Victor Galland (1822-1892)
The Return of the Prodigal Son
Oil on canvas - 50 x 42 cm
Beauvais, Musée départemental de l’Oise
Photo : Musée départemental de l’Oise

8. Benedict Masson (1819-1893)
Scene from the History of Hannibal
Oil on canvas - 71 x 58 cm
Beauvais, Musée départemental de l’Oise
Photo : Musée départemental de l’Oise

Visitors to the recent Pierre-Victor Galland retrospective in Roubaix and Beauvais discovered a new painting depicting a forest clearing at night (ill. 6), unlisted, and rightly so since it has just been acquired by the museum. Here again, an uneasy atmosphere, the monochrome Whistler aspect seem to link Galland, nicknamed the French Tiepolo for his decorations of private mansions, to another style altogether, that of “painters of the soul” and of Rosecrucians, such as Dulac, Guilloux or Lacoste [8], already well represented in the collection…

Another canvas had already been bought by the Museum shortly before the exhibit and is listed in the catalog. It is a study which seems to represent the return of the prodigal son (ill. 7). It is possible to identify it as such, although the protagonists are dressed in the contemporary fashion transforming the biblical scene into a theatrical one. The style is close to that of Thomas Couture as is sometimes the case for Galland.

Two donations by Jacques and Elisabeth Foucart entered the museum in the last few months. The first is a painting by Benedict Masson [9] (ill. 8), an unknown artist, who had also done heads of Christ and the Virgin in a strange expressionist style. It depicts a scene from the history of Hannibal and seems to be related to another painting, of a different composition, held at the Chambéry museum, representing Hannibal Crossing the Alps and shown at the Salon of 1861.

9. Hippolyte Lazerges (1817-1887)
Christ in the Garden of Olives, 1867
Oil on panel - 18 x 12.5 cm
Beauvais, Musée départemental de l’Oise
Photo : Musée départemental de l’Oise

10. Picardy (Beauvais or Abbeville), c. 1500-1510
Saint Mary Magdalene
Oak - 115 x 29 x 22 cm
Beauvais, Musée départemental de l’Oise
Photo : Musée départemental de l’Oise

The second is a small religious panel by Hippolyte Lazerges, Christ in the Garden of Olives [10] (ill. 9), bequeathed to Jacques and Elisabeth Foucart by Patrick Roger-Binet ; the couple have offered it in his honor. We take this occasion to evoke here the memory of this french art dealer whom we learned passed away last January, after a very long illness which had forced him to abandon his work some years ago. A specialist of the 1830-1930 period, Patrick Roger-Binet was responsible for the rediscovery of many artists which he exhibited in his gallery Rue Saint-Honoré [11]. An erudite, he enjoyed sharing his knowledge and it was always a pleasure talking with him. He had sold several works to Marie-Thérèse Laurenge whose collection recently entered the Beauvais Museum [12].

We will conclude this article by mentioning the only acquisition which is not from the XIXthC., a Saint Mary Magdalene in wood, dating from about 1510-1520 (ill. 10) which rounds out a collection of sculptures crafted in Picardy, another direction being developed by the museum.

Version française

Didier Rykner, samedi 5 mai 2007


[1] From the Normant Gallery in Paris

[2] Sold for $2,000

[3] Abel de Pujol and Jean-Victor Schnetz are the other two artists who participated in the decoration, Jules Zeigler was in charge of painting the “cul-de-four” in the apse.

[4] The painting was bought at the Elstir Gallery in Paris.

[5] See Didier Pillon, Charles Schaettel, catalog for the “Charles Landelle 1821-1908” exhibit, Laval Museum, June-September 1987, n°13, p. 60.

[6] Bought in 2006 at the Thierry Mercier Gallery in Paris. The information in this paragraph is taken for the most part from the dealer’s September catalog (drawn up by Jérôme Montcouquioul).

[7] See Catherine Bourdieu-Weiss, Jean-Pierre Cuzin, Gabriel Diss, Catalogue des peintures, musée départemental Georges de la Tour, Vic-sur-Seille, 2003, n°78.

[8] About this artistic current and these artists see the “review” of the exhibit Un país ideal. El paisatge simbolista a França on the website La Tribune de l’Art.

[9] The painting had just been bought by the donors at the Lécuyer Gallery in Paris.

[10] The painting was auctioned in Abbeville, by the offices of William Le Calvez, December 17, 2000 (lot n° 89, sold for 1,013.18 euros). On the back, it is dedicated and dated July 12, 1867.

[11] Among which : Alexandre Bida, Alphonse Osbert, Emile-René Ménard, Melchior Doze and many others.

[12] See : Josette Galiègue, Hervé Cabezas, Dominique Lobstein, Jérôme Montchal, François de Vergnette, De l’école de la nature au rêve symboliste : l’esprit d’une collection. La donation Mariet-Thérèse Laurenge au Musée départemental de l’Oise, Somogy Editions d’Art, Paris, 2004

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