Several preemptions at the sale of Lefuel collection architectural drawings


20/7/08— Acquisitions — French Museums — On 26 June, Millon & Associés sold an exceptional collection of architectural drawings at the Hôtel Drouot, the whole accompanied by a luxurious catalogue. The owner had been the expert Olivier Lefuel, who died in 2004 (and a descendant of Hector Lefuel, the architect for Napoleon III). French museums were extremely active, pre-empting (or buying directly) a total of 20 drawings for the sum of 491,907€ (including charges).

Versailles

The château of Versailles purchased almost all of the drawings related to it. The first (ill. 1) is a view of Jules Hardouin-Mansart’s Trianon de Marbre due to someone by the name of Cayeux who might be the sculptor, Philippe Cayeux (1688-1769).

1. Cayeux (late 17th- early 18th c.)
Elevation of the château royal du
Trianon, the colonnade seen from the Garden

Watercolour, pen
and black ink, gray
and brown wash - 38 x 190 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés



Several projects are entries in the contest for reconstructing the château, launched in 1780 by Louis XVI. It was never carried out, mainly for financial reasons, but also because of the Revolution. One of these (ill. 2) is by Pierre-Adrien Pâris and Louis-Jacques Durameau, the latter having done the small figures seen in the drawing. As for all of these projects, regardless of the architect, the Cour de Marbre, that is the original portion of Louis XIII’s small castle, no longer appears. Indeed, the program required a unified architecture for the façade.

2. Pierre-Adrien Pâris (1745-1819) and
Louis-Jacques Durameau (1733-1796)
Reconstruction project for Versailles presented to King Louis XVI, around 1781
Watercolour, pen and black ink, white gouache highlights – 23.5 x 60 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés



The second project pre-empted at the sale (ill. 3), and which is by Marie-Joseph Peyre, is highly original, as it combines the Neo-Classicism of the façades with a Baroque arrangement. The two concave wings end in a colonnade which is in part reminiscent of the one at Saint Peter’s in Rome by Bernini (but without the sculptures surmounting it).

3. Marie-Joseph Peyre (1730-1785)
Versailles surrounded by a colonnade like
Saint Peter’s in Rome

Watercolour, pen
and black ink – 40 x 90 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés



The participants in the contest were Pâris, Marie-Joseph Peyre but also Etienne-Louis Boullée, Nicolas-Marie Potain, Damandun and Antoine-François Peyre, known as the Younger, and brother of the first. Jean-François Heurtier, Inspector of the Royal Buildings at Versailles, also left some projects for this reconstruction, three of which were up for auction and were all acquired by Versailles (ill. 4 and 6). Two of these show Jules-Hardouin Mansart’s grille (it disappeared during the Revolution) which the architect meant to keep.

4. Jean-François Heurtier (1739-1822)
Façade project
for Versailles
ornated with great
rostral columns

Watercolours, pen
and black ink, gray wash
and watercolour
highlights – 32.5 x 63 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés



5. Jean-François Heurtier (1739-1822)
Façade project
for the château de Versailles

Watercolours, pen and black ink, gray wash
and watercolour
highlights – 30.5 x 60 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés

6. Jean-François
Heurtier (1739-1822)
Transformation
project for the Versailles courtyard

Watercolours, pen and black ink, grey
wash and
watercolour highlights – 30.5 x 62 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés


Napoleon I also dreamt for a long time of reconstructing Versailles and turning it into an imperial residence. His architect, Fontaine, in association with the one in charge of the château, Alexandre Dufour, presented several projects, three of which were acquired by Versailles (ill. 7 to 9).

7. Alexandre Dufour (1760-1835)
and Pierre-
François-Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853)
Façade project for the Versailles
Palace, entrance side

Watercolours,
pen and black ink,
gray and brown wash - 36 x 65 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés



8. Alexandre Dufour (1760-1835) and
Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853)
Façade project
for the Versailles Palace seen from the city

Watercolours, pen
and black ink, gray
wash - 32 x 91.5 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés

9. Alexandre Dufour (1760-1835) and
Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853)
Façade project
for the
Versailles Palace seen from the city
(the two fold-outs on
each end are not reproduced)
Watercolours, pen
and black ink, gray
wash - 27 x 170 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés


The last two watercolours pre-empted by the château are attributed to Heurtier, the architect who did several of the reconstruction projects mentioned above, and Hubert Robert. These are two remodelling projects for the group of Apollo’s Baths. The first (ill. 10) is very close to the completed version [1]. The second (ill. 11) represents the same group inside a small round Doric temple, similar to the one (although of Ionic order) which Richard Mique built for Marie-Antoinette.

10. Attributed to Jean-François
Heurtier (1739-1822) and Hubert Robert (1733-1808)
The Apollo Grove
Watercolour with gouache, pen and
black ink, gray wash - 31 x 42.3 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés

11. Attributed to Jean-François Heurtier (1739-1822) and
Hubert Robert (1733-1808)
The Apollo Temple
Watercolour with gouache, pen and
black ink, gray wash - 31 x 42.5 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés

Sceaux

The Musée de l’Ile-de-France pre-empted three watercolours (from two lots) by Fontaine (ill. 12 to 14). They all deal with the château de Neuilly, a domain belonging to the Orléans family transformed, at Louis-Philippe’s request, by this architect, one of the most active of the 19th century, who started his career under Louis XVI, and then worked for all the sovereigns from Napoleon I to Louis-Philippe dying finally at the beginning of the Second Empire.

12. Pierre François Léonard
Fontaine (1762-1853)
The arrival of the Duc d’Orléans at
the château de Neuilly
, 1835
Watercolour, pen and black ink, gray,
brown and red chalk
wash - 30 x 46 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés



13. Pierre François Léonard
Fontaine (1762-1853)
A review in
front of the grille
at
the château de Neuilly

Watercolour, pen
and black ink, gray, brown and red chalk
wash - 328 x 45.5 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés

14. Pierre François Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853)
The marble
temple on the island in front of the château
de Neuilly

Watercolour, pen
and black ink, gray, brown and red chalk
wash - 23 x 43 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
de Versailles
Photo : Millon & Associés


Brunoy, Musée Municipal

This museum in the Essonne department south of Paris was able to purchase a watercoulour by Boffrand representing the décor of the Salon of the château de Brunoy (ill. 15) as well as a view of the Parisian hôtel particulier of the Marquis de Brunoy (ill. 16), built by Etienne-Louis Boullée in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré and destroyed in the 20th century after WWI.

15. Germain Boffrand (1667-1754)
Panelling for
the Salon de Brunoy
, around 1740-1745
Watercolour, pen and black ink,
heightened with
white gouache -
21 x 40 cm
Brunoy, Musée Municipal
Photo : Millon & Associés

16. Jean-Baptiste Maréchal (active in
France until the end of the 18th century)
The hôtel de Brunoy in a
landscape with figures

Watercolour with gouache, pen and
black ink - 16 x 22 cm
Brunoy, Musée Municipal
Photo : Millon & Associés


Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale

The project acquired by the BnF for an annex of the library (ill. 17) is also by Fontaine. This was a commission by Napoleon I but which was never executed.

17. Pierre-François Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853)
Project for an annex for the Bibliothèque Impériale
Watercolour, pen
and black ink, brown wash, heightened
with white gouache -
31 x 44 cm
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France
Photo : Millon & Associés



Paris, Musée d’Orsay

Orsay acquired two watercoulours. The first, for which we have no illustration, is a View of a Temple with a Hay Cart in Front by Félix Duban, the second is a Project for a Gothic Fireplace (ill. 18) by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

18. Eugène-Emmaneul Viollet-le-Duc
(1814-1879)
Project for a
gothic fireplace with a woman standing on
the left

Pen and black ink,
grey wash and watercolour - 20,5 x 26 cm
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo : Millon & Associés



Archives de Bordeaux

19. Attributed to
Louis Combes (1737-1816)
A view of the port of Bordeaux, layout
of the quais

Watercolour with gouache, pen and
black ink - 30 x 45 cm
Bordeaux, Archives
Photo : Millon & Associés



Fontainebleau

The château de Fontainebleau purchased a project for a Neo-Classical ceiling (26 x 26 cm) by Georges-Alphonse Jacob-Desmalter (1799-1870) for which we do not have a photograph.

Paris, Musée Carnavalet

20. Jean Nicolas Sobre (? - ?)
The marché des Innocents seen
from the Batave house
, 1804
Watercolour, pen and black ink, grey
wash, heightened
with white gouache -
41 x 33 cm
Paris, Musée Carnavalet
Photo : Millon & Associés



We conclude this article by raising a question concerning the Musée Carnavalet’s sole acquisition (ill. 18). There is no question that this view of the Marché des Innocents seen through the Batave house, built by Jean Nicolas Sobre and Célestin-Joseph Happe and destroyed when the Boulevard Sébastopol was laid out, is indeed interesting. Its historical and documentary value (it is by Sobre himself, a student of Ledoux) also carries with it real aesthetic qualities. But the fact that this was the museum’s only purchase (for the modest sum of 2,231€) is a bit worrisome. The auction was full of masterpieces representing the capital which should have drawn the Musée Carnavalet’s interest, notably a Project for a Palace on a Quai attributed to Etienne-Louis Boullée and Jean-Michel Moreau le Jeune, projects by Jean-François Chalgrin for the Collège de France, for Saint-Philippe-du-Roule and for temporary décors, an exceptional Transformation Project for the Arch of Triumph on the Place de l’Etoile, to the Glory of Louis XVIII by Jean-Nicolas Huyot (1780-1840) along with other marvellous pieces. The museums of the City of Paris seem to be on a strict budget and cultural heritage is clearly not at the forefront of the municipality’s concerns. We will no doubt return to this subject soon enough.

Version française


Didier Rykner, dimanche 20 juillet 2008


Notes

[1] Let us point out that the sculptures by Girardon, Coustou and Marsy are to be removed and brought indoors in the next few days before being replaced by copies in the restored grove.



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