The Students at the Ecole du Louvre Take Up Fund Raising

1. France, 1682
Saint Anne Altarpiece
Gilded and Polychrome Wood - 800 x 620 cm
Commana, Saint-Derrien Church
Photo : D. R.

16/6/13 - Fundraising - Churches - About four months ago we had pointed out the launching of a fundraising operation to find money for restoring art works residing in churches, initiated by La Sauvegarde de l’Art Français and the Junior Entreprise de l’Ecole du Louvre.
With the following slogan : "Let’s help the biggest museum in France", the project consists in pinpointing objects in poor condition, then finding a patron who will help to restore them. The first stage of the project is now over and the students are setting out on the second : raising the needed funds.

Our article had set off a certain number of reactions from curators in charge of heritage or antiquities and art objects (see article, in French) who felt sidelined in their prerogatives or, even worse, pointed out by an accusing finger, as if there were any implication they were not doing their job (see here and here). We hope this unfortunate misunderstanding has now been cleared up. The purpose of this project is to make French residents more aware of art works they did not know existed close by and provide additional help where needed. This is also an excellent exercise for the students who will one day probably see to the conservation of art works in the course of their professional career. We can only express our approval of any initiative seeking to enhance art objects residing in churches, often endangered due to widespread ignorance, indifference and lack of money.

2. France, 1648
Eucharistic Tower
Stone, Black and Red Marble - H. 720 cm
Marquette-en-Ostrevant, Saint-Martin Church
Photo : D. R.

The students have thus searched in their native regions and a specific website has been posted where the public can see the works selected, each accompanied with a short comment. We would venture to say that in many cases these comments might have been developed a bit further and with more research. This is perhaps the first chance these students have to write an entry and we would suggest they improve them (some technical data is missing) and adopt a uniform format. They should also include a bibliography when the work has already been published.
The fundraiser has been launched on the specialized site Kisskissbankbank but appears to be lost among all the other appeals (it would be better to go directly here). Furthermore, contributors are asked to vote for the objects they prefer to see restored first but the voting system does not seem to be working correctly yet (in any case we did not find it). This should improve in the next few days.

Among the many works which are presented, some are very important, others more modest. For Olivier de Rohan, president of Sauvegarde de l’Art Français, as for the students from the Ecole du Louvre, it is important to show their diversity and explain that they all deserve to be restored. They are right but we will nevertheless make our selection, picking those which we think fall under the category of true fine arts. Hence, we point out (though not exhaustively) here a few objects which we would gladly vote for (almost all in fact - some are not yet posted - are visible on the operation site). They can be seen on the website corresponding to the operation as well as on the Facebook page for Junior Entreprise.

3. Central Europe (?), XVIIIth century
Christ on the Cross
Pontrieux, Church
Photo : D. R.

At the church of Saint Derrien, in Commana, Finistère, a superb altarpiece in polychrome sculpted wood from the late 17th century is offered (ill. 1). In Sélestat, in the church of Saint Georges there is a composite pulpit created in the 17th century but modified in the 19th ; in the church of Saint Martin de Marquette in Ostrevant, a small city in northern France, a rare eucharistic tower (ill. 2) ; the town would like to undertake the restoration with the help of the DRAC but more money is needed.

Among the sculptures, we would point out a magnificent 18th century Christ on the Cross (ill. 3) probably from Central Europe, thus making it a rare object for a French church. Recently found in the attic of the church of Pontrieux in the Côtes d’Armor, it is in very poor condition and the restoration will cost almost 12,000€. We should note that each appeal is limited, quite modestly, to only 3,000€. Let us hope that the public’s generosity will go well beyond this limit...

4. Martin van Heemskerck (1498-1574)
Crucifixion, 1557
Oil on Panel
L’Oudon, Saint-Martin Church
Photo : D. R.

For paintings, we would choose a discovery made in 2012 : a painting by Martin van Heemskercke representing a Crucifixion (ill. 4). The work, residing in the church of Saint Martin, in Fresnaie, Calvados, had been listed as anonymous in 1988. The signature was later found thanks to a photography campaign.
In Saint Hymer, again in the Calvados region, two paintings by Jean Restout, The Charity of Saint Martinand Saint Hymer Praying have been selected [1], in a church which also appears to be in very poor condition. We would also note a large Descent from the Cross in the church of Saint Valérien de Châteaudun recently attributed to Quentin Varin by Guillaume Kazerouni in the catalogue for the recent exhibition at the Musée Carnavalet featuring paintings from Parisian churches in the 17th century.

Parisian works are also on offer. But how is one to choose in a city where the list of endangered churches continues to grow ? In any case, we approve the one presenting a chapel - and a church - which we have often called to readers’ attention due to its disastrous state, even though it was recently restored. We are referring to Notre Dame de Lorette and the chapel on the left of the entrance painted by Merry Joseph Blondel. We discuss it here. Alas, the restoration will require more than the 3,000€ appealed for.

We remind potential donors among the readers at The Art Tribune that their contributions, handled by La Sauvegarde de l’Art Français, will qualify for a tax deduction.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 17 juin 2013


[1] We would like to say that contrary to what is written in the brochure presenting the operation, and if we are to believe what Christine Gouzi asserts in her monograph on Jean Restout published by Arthena, Restout did not produce six paintings for this church, only two ; that the paintings which disappeared in 1976 were copies of those two residing in the priory at Saint Hymer and that only one painting has resurfaced, purchased by the Art Institute in Chicago with the name of Restout, but rejected by Christine Gouzi. We should also point out that this last painting, which moreover is listed, thus finds itself in the United States illegally.

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