The Trials and Tribulations of a Thuillier Landscape Recovered by Amiens

Pierre Thuillier (1799-1858)
The Old Via Tiburtina, near Tivoli, 1843
Oil on canvas - 126 x 183 cm
Amiens, Musée de Picardie
Photo : Musée de Picardie

19/12/13 - Unusual - Amiens, Musée de Picardie - Readers might remember that a landscape by Pierre Thuillier, which was supposed to go on the block in Reims, had been identified as a work missing from the Musée de Picardie, thought to have been stolen from the Fire Station where it resided (see news item of 26/11/13).
The story is in fact a bit more complicated than that : this painting was never taken ! Initially placed on deposit at the headquarters of the Eighth Infantry Division of Amiens, it had been transferred (without notifying either the museum of the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, the owner) to the Ecole d’état-major then located in Compiègne. During an inventory in 2002, the FNAC discovered another painting L’Appel Suprême by Etienne Beaumeté, known as Henri Charles Etienne Dujardin-Beaumetz, which had also undergone the same haphazard fate. However, there was no trace of the Thuillier, so the conclusion was that it had been stolen.

However, thanks to the auction house in Reims, Alban Gillet et Chativesle which reacted promptly in the affair, we now know a bit more about the circumstances surrounding this reappearance. The Ecole d’état-major moved from Compiègne to Saumur in 2012 and certain buildings were subsequently razed. The Thuillier painting was recovered by the company who carried out the demolition and sold for a few hundred euros to the person selling it in Reims, without knowing that the canvas belonged to the French State. Fortunately, the entrepreneur understood that the work - which was tucked away in some unknown corner by the army - had a certain value. As for the Dujardin-Beaumetz, it followed the Ecole to Saumur in 2012, but was placed on deposit at the Musée de la Cavalerie in this city.

The Old Via Tibertina, near Tivoli is now hanging until the month of January at the Musée de Picardie in the Puvis de Chavannes gallery. It will then undergo a thorough restoration. The museum has addressed a request to the FNAC to renew the deposit.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 19 décembre 2013

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