Several Important Donations by Mrs. Charles Wrightsman to the Metropolitan Museum


26/5/12 - Acquisitions - New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art - At the age of 93, Jayne Wrightsman, the widow of Charles Wrightsman, continues the patronage which she and her husband (who died in 1986) have always pursued towards the Metropolitan Museum.

This American institution has thus received a donation of a bronze L’Antico, a painting by Louis-Léopold Boilly and no less than nine portraits drawn by Ingres.


1. Pier Jacopo Alari-Bonacolsi, called L’Antico (c. 1460-1528)
Spinario or Boy Removing a Thorn
Bronze - 19.7 x 7.5 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum


The small statue of L’Antico reproduces one of the best known antique models, the Spinario or Boy Removing a Thorn (ill. 1). This is not a surprising subject for a Mantovan artist, Pietro Jacopo Alari Bonacolsi, who owes his nickname for his tendency to execute works after Greek and Roman sculptures. The Metropolitan already owned three small bronzes by him, including a figure of Paris whose beautiful patina and gilt hair are very close to those of this new acquisition.


2. Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845)
Crowd looking at the
Napoleon’s Crowing by David at the Louvre, 1810
Oil on Canvas - 61.6 x 82.6 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

3. Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845)
Crowd looking at the
Napoleon’s Crowing by David at the Louvre, 1810
Detail : Autoportrait of Boilly
Oil on Canvas - 61.6 x 82.6 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum


The painting by Louis-Léopold Boilly (ill. 2) represents a crowd at the Louvre intent on seeing Napoleon’s Crowing, exhibited three times between 1808 and 1810. Thanks to a brochure, the visitors are trying to recognize the persons in David’s painting while Boilly, in an amusing "picture within a picture" invites the spectator of his own canvas to identify the figures he illustrated, some of which are portraits, notably his own on the far right of the composition (ill. 3).


4. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Portrait of Henri Lehmann, 1850
Pencil - 31.7 x 23.8 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

5. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Portrait of Charles-Victor Famin, 1836
Pencil - 22.3 x 17.7 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum


All nine Ingres portraits are of remarkable quality and represent diverse models, all of whom have been identified except for a woman who remains anonymous for the moment.
These include two artists : the painter Henri Lehmann (ill. 4) who was one of his best students and the architect Charles-Victor Famin (ill. 5), prix de Rome in 1835, the same year Ingres became director of the Académie de France.


6. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Portrait of Armand Bertin, 1842
Pencil - 31.2 x 22.8 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

7. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Portrait of Madame Armand Bertin, 1843
Pencil - 34.2 x 26 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum


Armand Bertin, the son of Monsieur Bertin immortalized by Ingres in the famous painting at the Louvre, was sketched by the artist in 1842 (ill. 6) in a drawing with a more traditional pose, dedicated to his wife. She also was portrayed, a year later in a sheet (ill. 7) dedicated by Ingres to her husband this time. Both sheets are part of Mrs. Wrightsman donation.


8. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Portrait of Madame Alexandre Lethière and her Daughter Letizia, 1815
Pencil - 23.1 x 20.2 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

9. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Portrait of General Louis-Étienne Dulong de Rosnay, 1818
Pencil - 45.1 x 34.3 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum


In 1815, Ingres had drawn Alexandre Lethière, the son of the painter Guillon-Lethière, and his wife and daughter, Letizia, in a companion piece. The first sheet resides at the Musée Bonnat in Bayonne, while the second (ill. 8) is now at the Metropolitan Museum. Three years later, Ingres portrayed General Louis-Etienne Dulong de Rosnay, another work also in Mrs. Wrightsman’s donation (ill. 9).


10. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Portrait of Paul Grand, 1834
Pencil - 34.3 x 26 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum

11. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Portrait of Jean-Joseph Fournier, 1815
Crayon - 24.2 x 16.6 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum


Finally, the donation includes three other drawings by Ingres : the portrait of the lawyer Paul Grand (ill. 10), that of Jean-Joseph Fournier (ill. 11) and that of an unidentified young woman (ill. 12).


12. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Portrait of Lady
Pencil - 27.6 x 19.9 cm
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo : Metropolitan Museum


Although the Metropolitan Museum makes welcome additions to its collections regularly thanks to the generosity of its many donors or to the often remarkable purchases of its curators (we will soon return to discuss the many drawings acquired recently), we would however like to point out that it is also losing some of its artistic wealth through sales. Indeed, the museum is to auction off several old master paintings on 6 June 2012 at Christie’s New York in order to increase its acquisitions budget. We have often expressed here our incomprehension of the deaccessioning policy of American museums. This is all the more perplexing when the paintings are of excellent quality as is the case for some of those to be sold at Christie’s. For example, we are shocked to find there these two small tondi by Hubert Robert, but even more so a very beautiful landscape by Jan Frans Van Bloemen, still presented in the Metropolitan database and which appears to be, if we are to believe the information provided, the only painting by this artist residing at this institution...

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Didier Rykner, mardi 29 mai 2012



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