The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy buys a Claude


Claude (1600-1682)
Marine with Combat on a Bridge
Oil on canvas - 73.5 x 96.5 cm
Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts

28/12/2007 — Acquisition — Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts — The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nancy (France) had waited until 1980 to acquire its first painting by Claude, a native of Chamagne where he was born in 1600, not far from the capital city of the dukedom of Lorraine. The work, a delightful Landscape with a Flute Player, was not entirely characteristic of the painter’s style however, due to both its vertical format and subject. This is why the addition of (ill.) to the Nancy collections is a major event, especially since the artist’s works are rare in French museums. Amusingly enough, in 1983 this painting which was present in the Claude retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris, appeared in the catalogue immediately after the Landscape with a Flute Player. They date from the second half of the 1630’s, although the last digit on both canvases is illegible. The reproductions appeared opposite one another, a placement that can now be permanent.

This purchase, on the American market for a total of 475,000 € with the help of public fundraising, enables the painting commissioned by a French patron to return to its homeland. According to an inscription on the Liber Veritatis — Claude’s sketchbook where he drew most of the compositions that he parted with, and now held at the British Museum — the canvas was ordered by the secretary to François-Annibal d’Estrés, marquis de Coeuvres, the French ambassador to Rome from 1638 to 1641. After being in British collections, it had been acquired by the Wildenstein Gallery, then sold in 1983 to the collection of Mr. and Mrs. J. Seward Johnson. The museum in Nancy, in turn, bought it from the Wildenstein Gallery. The subject has not been identified. The composition takes place on three main levels : in the background, a port ; in the middle (one can barely make it out in the photo), a battle unfolds on a bridge, and in the foreground a group of peasants accompanied by children and cattle appear to be fleeing the fighting.

Version française


Didier Rykner, vendredi 28 décembre 2007



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