The Hornstein Donation to Montreal (1)


1. Jan Lievens (1607-1674)
Old Scholar in his Study, c.1630
Oil on Panel - 63 x 52 cm
Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : MBAM

29/5/12 - Acquisitions - Montreal, Musée des Beaux-Arts - A few weeks ago we had announced the exceptional donation made by Michal and Renata Hornstein of their collection of old master paintings to the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, and the upcoming construction of a new wing to house them [1].
Since the works have not yet joined the museum which is however, currently studying and photographing them, we cannot provide a complete account here. We will nevertheless include a list of some of the artists at the end of this article. We fear it might be a bit fastidious to present all 70 paintings [2] in a single article (which would no longer be a news item) and also, they practically deserve to have one each.
We shall therefore publish this donation in a series, with no precise order but in an attempt to vary the genres each time.

Of all the photographs we have seen so far, the work which we found to be the most important represents an Old Scholar in his Study by Jan Lievens (ill. 1), the companion - and rival - of the young Rembrandt. This panel in fact dates from around 1630 when the two artists were still close. We should also point out that the museum already held a Portrait of a Young Woman by Rembrandt (dating from 1665, thus much later), whose attribution has been recently confirmed by the Research Rembrandt Project.


2. Pieter Claesz (ca 1597-1660)
Vanitas, 1645
Oil on Panel - 39 x 61 cm
Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : MBAM


The donation, composed essentially of Flemish and Dutch paintings, also contains of course several still-lifes. Notably it brings an absolute masterpiece of this genre to the museum collections, a Vanitas by Pieter Claesz (ill. 2), dated 1645. The subtle composition is particularly remarkable, with the different objects, each symbolozing the fragility of life and the passing of time, themselves placed in a delicately balanced position : the glass seems on the verge of falling and breaking at any moment.


3. Jan Steen (1626-1679)
Return of the Prodigal Son, c. 1668-1670
Oil on Canvas - 119.4 x 95.2 cm
Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : MBAM


In a very different category this time, the donation also includes a Return of the Prodigal Son by Jan Steen (ill. 3), dating from the 1660’s. This is a religious scene treated almost as a genre painting, but with much more reserve than the usual colorful details found elsewhere in this artist.


4. Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1682-1754)
Penitent Mary Magdalene
Oil on Panel - 62.2 x 52 cm
Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : MBAM


We will conclude this first article with one of the few works which is not from Northern Europe, a Penitent Mary Magdalene by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (ill. 4) although it shares a certain realism with the preceding painting in the representation of a religious scene. The lack of wings on the putti reinforces this impression.

Non-exhaustive list of the artists represented in the Hornstein donation :

- Willem Van Aelst
- Jan Asselijn
- Ludolf Backhuysen
- Osias Beert
- Claes Berchem
- Abraham Van Beyeren
- Herri met de Bles
- Ferdinand Bol
- Bartholomeus Breenbergh
- Quirin Van Brekelenkam
- Jan Brueghel de Velours
- Rosalba Carriera
- Pieter Codde
- Adriaen Coorte
- Albert Cornelis
- Allart Van Everdingen
- Georg Flegel
- Jan Fyt
- Jan Van Goyen
- Joris van der Haagen
- Cornelis Van Haarlem
- Jan Hackaert
- Jan Van der Heyden
- Adrian Isenbrandt
- Johann König
- Jacques Linard
- Christiaan Luykx
- Nicolas Maes
- Willem Van Mieris
- Joos de Momper
- Caspar Netscher
- Adam Pijnacker
- Cornelis Van Poelenburgh
- Jacob Van Ruisdael
- Floris Van Schooten
- Gerard van Spaendonck
- Hendrick Van Steenwijck
- David Teniers le Jeune
- Willem Van de Velde le jeune
- Claude-Joseph Vernet
- Simon de Vlieger
- Cornelis Vroom
- Philips Wouwermans
- Francesco Zuccarelli

Version française


Didier Rykner, mercredi 30 mai 2012


Notes

[1] We should also remember that the Hornsteins had already donated no less than thirty old master paintings and 330 drawings by Hodler over the past few years !

[2] Actually 69 as the seventieth is a Claude Lorrain already donated last year (see news item of 2/10/11 in French).



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