Reopening, Acquisitions, Appointment : An Update on the Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie in Senlis


5/10/12 - Museum opening, acquisitions, appointment, publication - Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie - The director of the museums in Senlis, Bénédicte Pradié Ottinger, who passed away last 18 July, experienced the joy, a few days earlier, of attending the reopening of the Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie in Senlis (ill. 1) to which she had devoted all her energy. The former bishopric housing the museum was modernized and exhibition spaces were added so as to allow for the display of more works, also regrouping notably the ensemble of Thomas Couture paintings in the collection.


1. The Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie
of Senlis in the Former Bishopric
Photo : Didier Rykner

2. Georges Lallemant (1580-1636)
Christ Found in the Temple
Oil on Canvas
Senlis, Former Cathedral
Photo : Didier Rykner


3. France, first quarter of the XVIth c.
Pieta
Limestone, Polychromic marks - 116.7 x 89 x 44.5 cm
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie
Photo : Didier Rykner

Several large canvases which had been rolled up in storage for some time are also on view now in the old cathedral. These include works by Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre, Jean-Simon Barthélémy and Joseph-Benoît Suvée. Museum goers should thus round out their visit by going to this religious site where they will also discover a painting by Georges Lallemant, Christ Found in the Temple (ill. 2), some beautiful 19th century stained-glass windows as well as sculpted groups from the Middle Ages and, in the choir, a Baroque polychromatic Virgin with Child surrounded by two angels. However, a Pieta, which was displayed in the church but belonged to the museum has returned and can be found amid the collections (ill. 3) along with several paintings from the cathedral still exhibited in the museum, such as a superb Saint Ambrose by Claude Vignon. We can understand that small sized works like this must be protected from potential thieves although it is always sad to deposit church works in a museum.


4. Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie of Senlis
Medieval rooms
Photo : Didier Rykner

5. Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie of Senlis
Old masters and 19th century room
Photo : Didier Rykner


6. Philippe de Champaigne
Flight into Egypt
Oil on Panel - 57.5 x 133.5 cm
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie
Photo : Musées de Senlis

The visit begins under the vaulted ceiling of the basement (ill. 4), with notably a remarkable presentation of an ex-voto collection. There is also the beautiful Pieta mentioned above as well as a certain number of antique and medieval objects.
Going back up to the ground floor, after a section on Naif painting (Camille Bombois, André Bauchant, Séraphine...), old masters and 19th century works, some of which have been restored, are now presented together in a large room (ill. 5). This is a small collection of uneven quality but which nonetheless contains some gems. Besides Claude Vignon’s Saint Ambrose of very beautiful quality, visitors will be sure to notice a Flight into Egypt by Philippe de Champaigne (ill. 6), The Miraculous Healing of Saint Roch by Carle van Loo (also a deposit from the cathedral) and several Italian canvases (a Ribera-like Luca Giordano, an attribution to Lorenzo Pasinelli, another one close to Francesco Solimena...). The 19th century is well represented by minor artists but beautiful paintings, by Francis Tattegrain, Eugène Thirion, Théodule Ribot and Fernand Pelez. Finally, we should point out a landscape by Corot, Landscape in the Forest of Fontainebleau.


7. Thomas Couture (1815-1879)
Portrait of a Woman, c. 1845
Oil on Canvas - 66 x 55 cm
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo : D. R.

8. Thomas Couture (1815-1879)
Study of Zouave Pants
Black Pencil and White Chalk Heightenings - 43.5 x 30 cm
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo : Musées de Senlis


The Thomas Couture works are one of the museum’s strong points. Bénédicte Ottinger, who was preparing the catalogue of his oeuvre, had succeeded in adding to the holdings over the last few years. We had in fact provided regular updates of these acquisitions (see here in French and here) to which several drawings and a painting were added very recently.
The painting is a Portrait of a Woman (ill. 7) for whom the model has not been identified. This was a donation made by Thierry Cazaux (who has now taken over the work on the Couture catalogue), as a tribute to the memory of Bénédicte Ottinger.
Thierry Cazaux had also donated a few months ago a drawing from a Drouot auction [1] (ill. 8).


9. Thomas Couture (1815-1879)
Study of a Left Arm
Black Pencil with White Heightenings
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo : Musées de Senlis

10. Thomas Couture (1815-1879)
Study of Court for Pierrot Trial
Black Pencil
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo : Musées de Senlis


11. Thomas Couture (1815-1879)
Etude of a Female Arm
Black Pencil
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo : Musées de Senlis

12. Thomas Couture (1815-1879)
Study of Ivy
Black Pencil
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo : Musées de Senlis


13. Thomas Couture (1815-1879)
Female Nude
Black Pencil (back of ill. 14)
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo : Musées de Senlis

14. Thomas Couture (1815-1879)
Man Seated (back of ill. 13)
Black Pencil
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo : Musées de Senlis


At this same auction, the museum had acquired five other drawings sold in a single lot [2]. One of these (ill. 9) is preparatory for Drummer Boy at the Detroit Museum of Art and another (ill. 10) for Pierrot in Criminal Court (Cleveland Museum of Art), while the last three (ill. 11 to 14) have not been yet linked to known works.


15. Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie of Senlis
Thomas Couture Room
Photo : Didier Rykner


16. Pierre Puget
Puget Mausoleum
Marble (before restoration)
Senlis, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo : Musées de Senlis

The Couture paintings now have their own space in the chapel of the Chancelier Guérin (ill. 15) which served as a storeroom before. This is in fact a return to its original purpose as this former chapel was used by Couture for his studio when he came back to Senlis in 1860. We especially noticed the close hang of the canvases (some have been deposited by other museums) evoking the atmosphere in a studio but also a Salon exhibition where Couture participated regularly. Unfortunately, a partition was placed in front of a wall, consequently hiding the windows.

When the museum reopened last summer, another museum space, the Renaissance gallery, was still being refurbished. It will open in late October and should present notably an ensemble of 25 sculpted panels from an early 15th century Antwerp altarpiece.
Among the works which will also return to the collections, we would point out the Puget Mausoleum, a large sculpted monument by Pierre Puget (ill. 16) just restored by the C2RMF.

Appointed as interim director after the death of Bénédicte Ottinger, Marie-Bénédicte Astier-Dumarteau, a young curator who recently graduated from the Ecole du patrimoine has been confirmed as permanent head and will be in charge of ensuring the future of the Senlis museums.
Finally, we would like to mention the publication of a collection guide which presents, though not in an exhaustive manner, an extensive selection of the works exhibited at this newly reopened museum.

Collective work, Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie Senlis. Catalogue Guide, 2012, Mare et Martin, 158 p., 19€. ISBN : 9782849340974.

Version française


Didier Rykner, mardi 9 octobre 2012


Notes

[1] Piasa auction, 28 March 2012. This corresponded to the sale of part of the holdings from the La Scala gallery after the death of its founders, Marie-Christine Carlioz and Hélène Bucaille.

[2] For 1275€ including charges.



imprimer Print this article

Previous article in News Items : The Louvre Purchases a Painting by David Wilkie

Next article in News Items : Some Useful Websites on Internet