Sylvie Beguin passes away

Sylvie Béguin
May 2005
Photo : Matthias Schäfer

24/3/10 – Obituary – Sylvie Beguin, a renowned specialist of French and Italian Renaissance painting, former chief curator for the paintings department at the Musee du Louvre passed away on 20 March 2010 at the age of 91.

After studying philosophy, Sylvie Beguin entered the Ecole du Louvre from which she graduated in 1946 before entering the Louvre itself in 1947 as a research fellow. She was to spend her entire career there, retiring in 1985. While at the museum, she was also head of documentation for paintings between 1965 and 1972.
Her countless contributions to art history represented fundamental works which included books, articles and exhibition catalogues. The author of a dissertation on Nicolo dell’Abate which she defended in 1950, she was curator for the retrospective highlighting this artist in Bologna in 1969 and, much more recently, for the exhibition Nicolo dell’Abate, Storie dipinte nella pittura del cinquecento tra Modena e Fontainebleau in Modena in 2005. If we were to quote just one exhibition however, it would be that of 1972 for which she was co-curator with Michel Laclotte at the Grand Palais, one of the very first huge shows (over 700 works), on the Fontainebleau school with an accompanying catalogue which remains the essential reference even today. Another memorable exhibition, in 1983-1984, Raphael dans les collections francaises, again at the Grand Palais, stands out particularly for her sensational identification shortly before the opening, of a Rapahel painting representing An Angel Holding a Religious Banner, a fragment of an altarpiece from the church of Sant’Agostino at Citta di Castello. Thanks to her labors, the Louvre was thus fortunate enough to acquire another work by the Urbino master.

In concluding, we would also like to pay tribute, not only to her sense of humor but also to Sylvie Beguin’s sense of curiosity which often led her down paths and into fields not necessarily connected to her specialty. She wrote, for instance, on Isaac Moillon, but also, more unexpectedly, on Gauguin. Few art historians have had such long careers as she remained active for twenty-five years after retiring : her last text, a preface to an article collection by Mario di Gianpaolo [1], one of her closest friends who passed away in 2008 (see news item of 17/8/08) appeared on 24 March 2010.

Didier Rykner, mercredi 24 mars 2010


[1] Scritti sul disegno Italiano, 1969-2008 de Mario di Giampaolo

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