Some acquisitions and a new attribution for the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse

15/3/08 — Acquisitions — Toulouse, Musée des Augustins — Despite a restricted acquisitions budget, the museum has managed to continue its policy of enriching the collections [1] including, among several other pieces, a study by Baccicio, added in 2006 (see news item of 12/6/06 in La Tribune de l’Art in French). The following are some of the major works purchased or donated since 2005.

The first painting we would like to point out is a Deposition (ill. 1) due to a little-known artist, Ferdinand Storm, known as Hernando Esturmio [2].We have not read the article.]]. This canvas reminds us that many Flemish artists who worked in Spain during the XVIth century would stop in Toulouse on their journey south. The work was acquired in 2007 from the Pardo Gallery in Paris.

1. Ferdinand Storm, known as
Hernando Esturmio
(c. 1500-1556)
The Deposition
Oil on panel - 63 x 54 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Daniel Martin

2. Marguerite
Gérard (1761-1837)
The Visit
Oil on canvas - 40.5 x 32.5 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Daniel Martin

3. Etienne Parrocel
called Stefano Parrocel (1696-1775)
Saint Francis Regis Interceding
for the Plague Victims
, 1739
Oil on canvas - 57.5 x 34 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Daniel Martin

The Visit (ill. 2) by Marguerite Gérard is typical of the works by Fragonard’s sister-in-law who painted innumerable small genre scenes inspired by both XVIIth century Dutch art and by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, often treating as did the latter moralizing subjects. Some figures often reappear in an identical manner in other paintings, even when the subject changes. Thus, the woman standing here shows practically the same attitude as the figure in The Children’s Bed Time [3]. This canvas, purchased in 2005 from the La Scala Gallery in Paris, consolidates even further the rich holdings of the museum in Toulouse of late XVIIIth and early XIXth century French painting.

Several XVIIIth and XIXth century French studies entered the collections as well. The first is a preliminary study by Etienne Parrocel (ill. 3) for a painting at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Marseille, and executed for the Jesuit church in the Mediterranean city [4]. Still, this identification is not totally obvious : although the subject indeed represents Saint Francis Regis Interceding for the Plague Victims during the plague of 1616 in Toulouse (this iconography thus justifies its acquisition by the Musée des Augustins), the composition here, in reverse, is very different from that of the painting in Marseille. In particular, the figure of Christ sitting in the clouds is replaced by a crucifix. Another study, much closer to the final work, was shown by the Joseph Hahn Gallery in 1972 [5]. A preparatory drawing for the figure of Saint Francis Regis was acquired last year by the British Museum (see news item of 26/3/07 in La Tribune de l’Art, in French). Etienne Parrocel is well known for his bold studies which appear often on the art market (see news item, in French, of 24/04/07).

4. Pierre Peyron (1744-1814)
Cornelia, Mother
of the Gracchi
, 1779
Oil on canvas - 24.5 x 32 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins

A study by Pierre Peyron for Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi(ill. 4) was acquired in 2007 from the Terrades Gallery in Paris. It prepares the large painting already hanging at the Musée des Augustins with its pendant Belisarius Receiving Hospitality from a Peasant. This pair had been commissioned by the Abbot François de Pierre de Bernis. The National Gallery of London has two signed versions (Cornelia and Belisarius) of these canvases. A rival of David’s (Peyron was in fact awarded the Prix de Rome in 1773, one year earlier than he), Pierre Peyron already reveals here in a canvas dating from 1779 (David’s Belisarius is from 1781), a fully Neoclassical composition.

5. Jean-Baptiste
Regnault (1754-1829)
The Education of Achilles by the
Centaur Chiron
, 1783
Oil on panel - 22.2 x 17 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Daniel Martin

Another study by a contemporary of David’s was acquired from the La Scala Gallery in 2007. This is The Education of Achilles by the Centaur Chiron (ill. 5) in preparation for the painting in the Louvre, which was his reception piece for the Académie in 1783 and for which there are other versions (Musée Calvet in Avignon, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg). It was part of the Ciechanowiecki Collection, some of which was acquired by the LACMA in Los Angeles (see interview with J.P. Marandel) and the rest sold in Paris on 28 June 2002.

Two studies by artists from Toulouse of the second half of the XIXth century were purchased by the museum. The First Mourning by Edouard Debat-Ponsan (ill. 6 ; acquired in 2006 from La Scala) prepares a painting exhibited at the Salon de 1874 which is lost today. The first mourning refers of course to Adam and Eve grieving over the death of their son Abel, killed by his brother Cain. As for Antigone and Polynices (ill. 7), purchased from a private individual in 2007, it is by Jean-Joseph Constant, better known by his pseudonym Benjamin-Constant.

6. Edouard Debat-
Ponsan (1847-1913)
The First Mourning
Oil on panel - 50 x 61 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Daniel Martin

7. Benjamin-Constant (1845-1902)
Antigone and Polynices
Oil on panel - 33 x 41 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Daniel Martin

Although he was born in Paris, he was brought up in Toulouse by his aunts after the death of his mother. He attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts there before entering Alexandre Cabanel’s workshop in Paris. Given its style and format, this is probably a work for a contest for painted studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The Musée des Augustins already owns several paintings by the artist, including a very large format, Mahommed II’s Entry into Constantinople.

8. Félicie de
Fauveau (1799-1886)
Funeral Bust of a Child
Marble - H. 43 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Daniel Martin

9. Victor Segoffin (1867-1925)
Thérèse Combarieu
Marble - 88 x 33 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Daniel Martin

10. Victor Segoffin (1867-1925)
Denise Combarieu
Bronze - 44 x 18 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : Daniel Martin

Three XIXth century sculptures have also entered the Musée des Augustins. A marble by Félicie de Fauveau (ill. 8), an artist who already has two other works here, probably representing a Funeral Bust of a Child, was acquired in 2007 from a private individual. Félicie de Fauveau, a fervent legitimist, is better known for her decorative bronze works such as The Dagger acquired by the Louvre a few years ago but she also worked with marble as shown by this strange commemorative sculpture.

The other two pieces are busts by Vicotr Segoffin, a native of Toulouse who was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1897 and who received many official commissions (he participated notably in the decoration of the Louvre). This marble and this bronze (ill. 9 and 10), donated to the museum in 2007, represent two members of the same family, most likely sisters, Thérèse and Denise Combarieu. The Musée des Augustins already owns several works by the artist.

We conclude by mentioning two XVIIth century canvases which are in fact veritable discoveries. The first is in the process of being acquired from the art dealer in Amiens Stéphane Grodée (ill. 11). This is the only known canvas to have been signed by Antoine Dieu, more famous as a draughtsman. It is not known where the work, Christ Dead, a grisaille, which was presented at the exhibition that opened recently [6] and which we will soon talk about, will end up.

11. Antoine Dieu (1662-1727)
Dead Christ
Oil on canvas - 56 x 144 cm
This painting is bought
by the Musée des Augustins
Photo : D. Rykner

12. Jacques Blanchard (1662-1727)
Lamentation Over the Dead Christ (during restauration)
Oil on canvas - 115 x 200 cm
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins
Photo : D. Rykner

A new and prestigious attribution is also another form of enrichment for the museum. The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (ill. 12) has been in the collection for quite some time. Kept in storage, it was considered to be from the circle of Jacques Blanchard but, no doubt due to its condition, excluded from the artist’s catalogue [7]. But the cleaning and ongoing restoration have now revealed a masterpiece. Axel Hemery who showed us the painting during the restoration process (ill. 12) ascribes it without a doubt to Blanchard, an identification which does indeed seem beyond all question. The work will soon take its place foremost among an already rich body of XVIIth century French paintings and is a fitting reward for the museum’s very active restoration policy. We can only hope that the establishment’s project for renovation and expansion, on hold for some years now, will soon be carried out.

Finally, before closing this news item, let us also point out that as Alain Daguerre de Hureaux will be leaving his position as director of the Musée des Augustins, Axel Hemery has been named interim director starting in April.

Version française


Didier Rykner, dimanche 16 mars 2008


[1] The permanent loss of the Francesco Guardi is to be deplored. It was returned to Otto Jaffé’s heirs in 2005 and then acquired by the Getty Museum (see news item of 19/7/05 in La Tribune de l’Art in French).

[2] Very little has been written on him. However, this painting was published recently : Nicole Cacos, Ao Modo de Flandres, International convention, Lisbon, 11-13 April 2005, p. 211-220, fig. 1, p. 212.

[3] Was auctioned in Monaco on 21 June 1991 (45 x 38 cm)

[4] The study was acquired at auction for 4000 € (without charges) at Tajan on 26 October 2006. About the painting in Marseille, see the Catalogue-guide for the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille, 1990, p. 96 (notice by Olivier Michel).

[5] Catalogue La peinture narrative en France 1500-1800, Galerie Joseph Hahn, Paris, 3-31 mars 1972).

[6] Axel Hemery, Pas la couleur. Rien que la nuance ! Trompe-l’œil et grisailles de Rubens à Toulouse-Lautrec, exhibition at the Musée des Augustins from 15 March to 15 June 2008.

[7] Jacques Thuillier, Jacques Blanchard, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, 1998, n° R22, p. 297.

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