Saint Peter’s Denial by the Le Nain brothers joins the Louvre

Antoine (c. 1600/1610-1648) or
Louis Le Nain (c. 1600/1610-1648)
Saint Peter’s Denial (before restauration)
Oil on canvas - 92 x 118 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : D. R.

4/6/09 – Acquisition – Paris, Musée du Louvre – We have already mentioned Saint Peter’s Denial by the Le Nain brothers several times and its ongoing acquisition by the Louvre. Until now we only had a poor black and white photograph dating from its rediscovery at an auction in eastern France.
The one published here is in colour but shows the painting before its restoration (ill. 1). Nonetheless, the document reveals its quality and importance already.

To have a better knowledge of this painting’s eventful history, we refer our readers to the news item of last 14 August. It has finally joined the Louvre thanks to patronage from Axa. According to our sources, the purchase price set during the fund-raising drive, 11,500,000€ is barely higher than what the insurance company had paid when first buying it from the Bailly Gallery. The difference will go to covering the interest corresponding to the few years it was held by the firm. Obviously, it would not have been normal for the company to sell it to itself [1] at a profit then deduct the amount from its taxes up to 90%, as accepted by patronage laws for important heritage works. This is not the case here and we would go so far as to say that Axa has performed a major service to the Louvre by allowing it to keep the painting given that no other patrons had come forward. This sets an example which could be followed in the case of other national treasures which might leave the country.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 4 juin 2009


[1] This in fact comes down to the same thing as Axa provided the funds to buy the work from Axa.

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