The Jewish Funeral by Alessandro Magnasco acquired by the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme

Alessandro Magnasco (1667-1749)
The Jewish Funeral
Oil on canvas - 87 x 117 cm
Paris, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme
Photo : Galerie Canesso

15/12/10 – Acquisition – Paris, Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme – While the Musee du Louvre seems to have definitively given up purchasing 17th and 18th century Italian paintings [1], we are happy to announce that a Parisian institution, acting unexpectedly in this field, has acquired a superb painting by Alessandro Magnasco (ill.) from the Canesso Gallery in Paris.

The subject naturally justifies the purchase as it illustrates The Jewish Funeral and the museum is of course no other than the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme [2]. However, we regret that this canvas which had been reunited with its companion piece, Homage to Pluto, by the previous owner will once again find itself separated. Understandably, the museum was only interested in the first which was declared “a work of major importance to heritage” by the Commission des tresors nationaux. It was the only one which could thus benefit from a contribution by a patron (who has for the time being remained anonymous), making it possible for it to join the museum collections.

The pairing of the two subjects, one representing a pagan ceremony, the other a Jewish rite, corresponds to the artist’s (and perhaps the person commissioning) wish to illustrate two non-Catholic religious events although their association may seem a bit strange. Despite the fact that this seems to be the only known scene of a Jewish funeral by Magnasco, the painter also represented synagogue interiors on various occasions such as, for example, in a painting held in Cleveland. Didier Rykner, Tuesday 14 December 2010

Notes 1. 2.

Didier Rykner, mercredi 15 décembre 2010


[1] Unless we are mistaken, the last purchase by the Louvre is a study by Tanzio da Varallo in 2003 (see news item, in French, of 16/5/03), except for a small Tiepolo, declared “tresor national”, in 2006 (see news item, in French, of 29/1/07). The beautiful Luca Cambiaso purchased in 2008 (see news item of 2/4/08) is a 16th century work and although some Settecento paintings have also been acquired, these are all donations.

[2] See Veronique Damian’s entry in the catalogue for the exhibition, Sweerts, Tanzio, Magnasco et autres protagonists du Seicento Italien, Galerie Canesso, February 2009, pp. 48-59 and Laurence Sigal-Klagsbald, “Funerailles juives, un chef-d’oeuvre d’Alessandro Magnasco”, La revue des musees de France-Revue du Louvre, December 2010, no. 5, pp. 9-12.

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