The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon Launches a Fundraiser for an Ingres

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Aretino and Charles V’s Envoy, 1815
France, Private Collection

13/9/12 - Fundraising drive - Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts - The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon has just launched a fundraising drive to acquire a magnificent painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres representing Aretino and Charles V’s Envoy (ill.).

At the 1855 Salon, corresponding to the Exposition Universelle, Ingres was one of the four painters, along with Delacroix, Vernet and Decamps to enjoy a massive presence : no less than forty or so paintings not to mention the stained-glass cartoons, a veritable retrospective of the aging artist. Among troubadour style works there were two companion pieces narrating episodes from Aretino’s life. One of them showed, according to the catalogue’s title, "The Poet Aretino Disdainfully Welcoming a Gold Chain Sent by Charles V" ; the other represented Tintoretto and Aretino. Ingres had already painted a pair of works with exactly the same figures, though introducing a few differences, in 1815 and 1818. While the latter still reside together in a private collection [1], the companion pieces painted in 1848, belonging to the Marcotte-Genlis collection, were separated in 1875. The one the Lyon museum is attempting to purchase today from the Bayser gallery in Paris remained untraceable for a long while (but was known thanks to a photograph).

Charles V was often represented in the 19th century as demonstrated by Dominique Lobstein in a study published on the French site where he had in fact reproduced this painting. The episode illustrates a legendary scene in which an envoy of the Emperor presents a gold chain to Aretino to acquire his services. The poet disdainfully rejects it saying : "that is a very small gift for such great foolhardiness.". Furious at this reaction, the emmissary places his hand on his sword, ready to punish such insolence. Aretino’s dismissive manner reflects his indifference to Charles V’s power. In the background, two nude young women are watching the scene from behind a curtain, alluding to the licentious reputation of the author of the Lust Sonnets. There are also two paintings on the walls : a probably Self-Portrait by Titian, telling us that the scene takes place in Venice, and a Virgin with Child.

The fundraising drive is open until next 15 December. The requested price of the work is 750,000€ but the sum corresponding to the public appeal is only 80,000€. The balance will be funded by the city of Lyon, the companies in the Club du Musée Saint-Pierre, individual members of the Cerce Poussin and the FRAM (Ministry of Culture-DRAC, Région Rhône-Alpes). Donations can made directly through a specially created site, starting at 1€ and of course qualify for a 66% tax deduction [2].
If acquired as hoped, the work would be a spectacular addition to the Ingres holdings in the museum which already owns two painted studies for Homer’s Apotheosis and five drawings including an overall study for The Golden Age. It would also fit in perfectly with the very rich 19th century painting collections, next to many other troubadour works (we should remember that Lyon was the home town of Fleury-Richard and Pierre Révoil) as well as Ingres’ disciples from Lyon, notably the Flandrin brothers, Hippolyte, Paul and Auguste.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 17 septembre 2012


[1] This is in any case the conclusion drawn after consulting a recent bibliography on Ingres.

[2] Other advantages are also included (see here).

imprimer Print this article

Previous article in News Items : A Canvas by Thérèse Moreau de Tours Acquired by the Musée de Bretagne

Next article in News Items : Jacques Moulin Appointed Architect of the Gardens at Versailles