Musée d'Orsay: Restoration of Schenck's Orphan

Restoration of Schenck's Orphan

In 2017, the Musée d'Orsay is continuing its campaigns of restoration for works in its collections; it is prioritizing artworks that were not put on display in the museum galleries when it opened in 1986.
These restorations are part of its policy on the preventive conservation of the artworks, one of the museum's fundamental missions.

The operation showcases paintings from the Academic and Symbolist schools, with the restorations taking place in situ in the exhibition spaces.
Visitors can thus follow the work of the art restorers who are under the direction of the museum's conservators and experts from the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France (C2RMF). The process of restoration is a combination of artistic technique and technological innovation.

"The Orphan" (circa 1885) by August Schenck


August SchenckThe Orphan© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Stéphane Maréchalle
August Schenck, Danish by birth (the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were, at that time, dependencies of Denmark), and a pupil of Léon Cogniet at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, made several trips to England and Portugal, before settling in Ecouen where he spent the rest of his career.
Although he was regular exhibitor at the Salon from 1857 (medal in 1865), and made a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur in 1885, the artist's career is still relatively unknown.

He specialised in animal subjects in a landscape – usually snow-covered – in which he arranged horses, dogs and sheep in a tight composition. The proximity to the subject encourages empathy in the viewer in scenes that have a sentimental quality.
Thus, The Orphan is depicted as a frail lamb whose mother has just died at his feet, while a determined flock of crow contemplates the scene.

There is a feeling of muffled oppression, the naturalism of Rosa Bonheur mixed with a touch of fantasy.
It is worth noting that Schenck painted an alternative version of this work, Anguish, in which, this time, the ewe watches over the body of a dead lamb, encircled by a mass of menacing black crows.

This initiative is supported by a restoration fund sponsored by Crédit Agricole Ile de France, Great Patron of the Musée d'Orsay.

Glass enclosure built with the generous support of:

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