Two Acquisitions for the Musée des Avelines in Saint Cloud

6/2/13 - Acquisitions - Saint Cloud, Musée des Avelines - The cuts in acquisition budgets now afflicting museums is no reason to stop all purchases. Turning to patrons and/or launching fundraisers is another way to remedy the state’s lack of commitment, but it is also possible, even for small museums, to enrich their collections thanks to extremely reasonable prices in some cases.

1. Charles Monnet (1732-1808)
The Day of Saint Cloud,
the 19th Brumaire year 8

Wash - 32.5 x 49 cm
Saint-Cloud, Musée des Avelines
Photo : Musée des Avelines

2. Isidore-Stanislas Helman (1743-1806)
after Charles Monnet (1732-1808)
The Day of Saint Cloud,
the 19th Brumaire year 8

Bibliothèque nationale de France
Photo : Bibliothèque nationale de France

Thus, the Musée des Avelines in Saint Cloud, with help from a donation made by the Société des Amis, was able to acquire a drawing by the Neo-Classical painter Charles Monnet, a student of Jean Restout and Prix de Rome in 1753 with Nebuchadnezzar Ordering Zedekiah to Be Blinded and his Children Massacred.
This wash in large format (32.5 x 49 cm), in good condition and of obvious importance, represents The Day of Saint Cloud, the 19th Brumaire year 8 [1], which took place in the Orangerie of the château and which shows Lucien Bonaparte, at the tribune, trying to calm the Parliamentary Members. In the assembly, Napoleon is seen encircled while two PM’s threaten him with a dagger (ill. 1). The work was acquired from a private collector for only 1,800€.
This sheet is preparatory for an engraving by Isidore-Stanislas Helman (ill. 2) which is part of a series of fifteen depicting "The Principal Days of the Revolution". Fifteen watercolors by Charles Monnet had come up for auction at the Hôtel Drouot on 12 April 1954 (Etude Etienne Adler auctioneer). Each one had been damaged by a fire, as indicated in the entry, (and the missing portions completed by a photograph of the corresponding work !). This is a repetition rather by Monnet of his compositions, as it is unlikely that a watercolor be used as a model for an engraving in black and white. The drawing acquired by Saint Cloud is therefore without a doubt the one which served for executing the engraving.

3. Eugène Fichel (1826-1895)
The Fair at Saint Cloud, 1875
Oil on Canvas - 92 x 150 cm
Saint-Cloud, Musée des Avelines
Photo : Musée des Avelines

The museum also received a donation, from Mrs. Bigo-Descamps, in the form of a painting by Eugène Fichel representing The Fair at Saint Cloud, dated 1875 (ill. 3). The identification of the subject was made thanks to a mention dating from 1881, when the painting had just been acquired by the donor’s family. This large canvas was probably the one presented at the Exposition Universelle in 1878 with the title A Funfair in 1776. It is true that Saint Cloud was the venue for one of the four major funfairs of the Parisian area along with the one at Neuilly, the "fête des Loges" and the "foire du Trône." On the same subject, we are all familiar of course with Fragonard’s painting which today resides at the Banque de France (see news item, in French).
Though little known, even if many museums hold works by him, Eugène Fichel was a genre painter, a student of Paul Delaroche and Martin Drolling. The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux owns a painting entitled Ramponneau’s Cabaret, representing the inside of a tavern in the 18th century, where the style, the subject and the size are very similar to those of the canvas donated to the museum in Saint Cloud.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 7 février 2013


[1] It bears a mistaken inscription saying it is the 18th Brumaire.

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