Musée d'Orsay: New Acquisitions

New Acquisitions

Virginie Demont-Breton, "Young Woman Sewing"

Virginie Demont-BretonYoung Woman Sewing© Musée d’Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand-Palais / Patrice Schmidt
The role played by Virginie Demont-Breton in the progressive inclusion of women in the art world throughout the 19th century makes her an important figure. Born into a family of artists, she led with her husband the group known as "Wissant", named after a village on the Opal Coast, which brought together French and Belgian artists between 1890 and 1900.
She exhibited at the Salon from the age of twenty, and later on she received several medals and was decorated as an Officer of the Legion of Honor. Her works were admired by Van Gogh, who made a copy of her painting Man at Sea.
She became involved in the Union of Women Painters and Sculptors in 1883, which she presided from 1895 to 1901. Thanks to the activism of the Union, the École des Beaux-Arts became accessible to women in 1896, giving them access to the library and to lectures on perspective, anatomy and art history. A year later, they were allowed to sit for entrance exams and take painting and sculpture classes, and in 1900, they finally had access to workshops identical to those reserved for men. Finally, they could compete for the Prix de Rome from 1903 onwards.

Young Woman Sewing is a drawing made when Virginie Demont-Breton was still very young and had just begun to depict figures, but it already demonstrates the sureness of her line and her drawing skills. The great plastic quality of the drawing can be seen in the mastery of the curve, which subtly merges the shoulder with the back of the chair, as well as in the play of draperies and chiaroscuro.
The subject evokes the domestic life of women, a favorite subject of the artist who has often represented peasants and sailors' wives, in their rough and difficult life.

Young Woman Sewing is not related to a painting but seems rather to be an exercise in figure-making that allows to combine study on the spot and classical reminiscences. It inspires a certain sadness, resignation and weariness of the model by its posture, but also a strength, a firmness and a beauty suggesting this theme of the inner struggle of a woman facing the difficulty of life.
The work joins in the collections of the Musée d'Orsay Young Woman Carrying a Child, another charcoal drawing by Virginie Demont-Breton currently on long-term loan at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Arras.

Rosa Bonheur, "La mare aux fées [The fairy pond], Fontainebleau"

Rosa BonheurLa mare aux fées [The fairy pond], Fontainebleau© Musée d’Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand-Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Rosa Bonheur always lived and worked in contact with nature, her main source of inspiration. If she considered herself a painter of figures - mainly animals - she also practiced landscape painting, not as an end in itself but with the aim of studying and "faithfully representing nature". She studied it during her travels, notably in the Auvergne, the Cantal and the Pyrenees, in the 1840s and 1850s, and then from the time she moved to By, during daily excursions to the nearby forest, where she knew all the sites.
The Mare aux Fées [The fairy pond] is a particularly picturesque site. Located on the Etroitures path, this stretch of water that never dried up, surrounded by birch trees, inspired many painters, drawers and photographers. Its name, which evokes fantastic myths and legends, is all the more meaningful in an era marked by industrialization and the development of cities. It was said to come from a legend according to which fairies would have scratched the walls of the surrounding rocks. One also thinks of the famous novel, La Mare au Diable by George Sand, whose so-called country novels, inspired by rural and forest life, have often been compared to Rosa Bonheur's paintings.

La Mare aux fées presents the great originality of featuring a part in color and a part in black and white, like an echo to the photographic technique. Rosa Bonheur did some watercolors on photographs of the forest of Fontainebleau, probably as an experiment and not for sale, applying the color on the black and white photograph used as a frame.
The only watercolor in the Orsay collections was a landscape drawing by the artist, a close-up of an oak tree trunk, which she and Anna Klumpke chose as a gift to the Musée du Luxembourg, and which is among the most representative of the artist's work. It is very complementary to this drawing which gives a broad view of the landscape.
This large watercolor sheds light on this little known angle of Rosa Bonheur's work, adept at large animal paintings but also at light, delicate, vibrant watercolors in an attempt to capture the magical atmosphere of the forest.

In 2022, the Musée d'Orsay, in partnership with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, will hold the first retrospective of the artist in Paris in a century.

Léon Frédéric, "Child in the Brambles"

Léon FrédéricChild in the Brambles© Musée d’Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
This oil on canvas is a study for the left panel of Léon Frédéric's triptych entitled The People will one day see the sunrise (which will dispel the darkness of the world), created in 1890-1891. The final version of this work, which has belonged to the Belgian State since 1962, bears witness to the period when the artist began to mix allegory with the naturalism he was already practicing.
This was also the period when symbolism was emerging on the European scene. The contemporary context of the Belgian anarchic attacks, however, makes it as much a social and humanist subject as a utopian and idealist one. The work thus marks a pivotal point in the themes treated by Frédéric.

The panel for which this study was made represents three naked children fleeing through brambles. In the background, one can recognize Brussels with its collegiate church of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula and its Palace of Justice. In the central panel, a crowd of people is dominated by a wave illuminated by ochre reflections. The right panel, entitled Towards Justice, depicts five children dressed in white robes walking through a sunny, flowery landscape.
These scenes show the three ages of the people through modern adaptations of the Old Testament (the past with the Fall of man; the présent with Exodus and Crossing the Red Sea; the futur with The Golden Age). The triptych can thus be seen as the counterpart of the one kept at the Musée d'Orsay: Ages of the Worker (1895-1897). By choosing this format, Frédéric sacralized the daily life of the most humble by placing it on the same level as religious subjects.

In contrast to the Belgian collections in which the painter is well represented, Léon Frédéric is a rare artist in French public collections. Apart from the Musée d'Orsay, which currently holds four of his paintings and one of his sculptures, the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Lille is the only other French museum to hold one of his paintings. The gift of Mr. Jean-Louis Milin through the Société des Amis des Musées d'Orsay et de l'Orangerie is therefore an exceptional opportunity to strengthen the representation of Belgian social art in the national collections.

Antoine Vollon, "Cliff"

Antoine VollonCliff© Musée d’Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
In the genres in which he excelled (still life, marine, landscape), Antoine Vollon (1833-1900) had success with the critics and collectors of his time who praised his mastery of color and rendering of materials. He exhibited at the Salon throughout his career and received numerous official awards.

This oil on canvas represents a landscape of steep cliffs difficult to locate with precision. It is most likely a site on the Normandy coast that Vollon often visited. The artist was a regular visitor to Villerville, Trouville and Honfleur where he painted alongside Daubigny and Boudin.


The spontaneous technique, leaving visible the brushstrokes, is well present in the landscapes of the artist around 1870, as well as the use of dark tones and shadow effects. If we find in Vollon certain procedures dear to the Barbizon landscape painters (partial execution in the open air, presence of a small character to animate the scene - here a fisherman on foot -), the painter is also close, in the treatment he gives to the cloudy sky, to Eugène Boudin. Both artists painted in Trouville in 1870 before the Franco-Prussian conflict caused Vollon to leave for Brussels, where Boudin joined him shortly afterwards.

The atmosphere of the scene is also reminiscent of Courbet's Stormy Sea presented at the 1870 Salon. In this landscape with dramatic overtones, Vollon chose an original point of view situated on the shore facing the coastline and not the sea. The large dark masses of clouds reflected in the water, the localized impastos opposed to areas where the brushstrokes are very free, the effects of contrasts, the play on textures (rocks, clouds, seaweed on the shore ...) are all demonstrations of the virtuosity of the painter. This work joins the nine paintings by Vollon, mostly still lifes, already in the Musée d'Orsay.

Gift of the Collection de Bueil & Ract-Madoux through the Société des amis du musée d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie.

Roderic O’Conor : "Breton Boy in Profile"

Roderic O’ConorGarçon breton de profil© DR
The Public Establishment of the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie is pleased to announce the acquisition of the painting Breton Boy in Profile by the Irish painter Roderic O’Conor thanks to the generous support of the Société des Amis des Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie (SAMO). The painting will be presented to the public in the Françoise Cachin gallery on the 5th floor as soon as the museum reopens.

Born into a bourgeois family, O’Conor moved to Paris in 1887 to study in Carolus-Duran’s studio and probably visited Pont-Aven for the first time that same year.
In 1891, he went to live for a few months in the Breton village where he met the Swiss Cunio Amiet and the English painter Eric Forbes-Robertson. This stay in the footsteps of Paul Gauguin marked a strong stylistic evolution in the artist, who then turned to synthesizing research. O’Conor was still present in Pont-Aven during Gauguin’s last Breton voyage in 1894. It is from this stay that their friendship dates back.
The meeting with Emile Bernard is another fundamental event in understanding the evolution of O’Conor’s painting. Bernard seems to have been a catalyst for the development of his art, notably by introducing him to the work of Van Gogh. O’Conor lived in Brittany for more than ten years. He permanently left it in 1904 and gradually detached himself from Gauguin’s influence to return to a more academic approach.

Dated 1893, the Breton Boy in Profile belongs to the most singular and probably the most interesting period in O’Conor’s career. The work itself stands out among the large group of landscapes and portraits made between 1891 and 1893. If the artist is situated here in a movement which was already a tradition in the colonies of artists in Brittany, that of the representation of the Bretons in Breton costume, he is also one of the first to invest the male subject and to void it of any anecdotal representation of the costume.
In this portrait, as in four other works depicting a child, the identity of the models remains unknown. These figures, represented out of any context, are meant to be kinds of archetypes of the peasant world. It is at least in these terms that Alfred Jarry describes them: “[…] each distills his own version of beauty. [...] For example, [...] O'Conor the models suggested at siesta-time by local people passing across the triangular public ‘square’ - in his case there is a disdain for making a choice at all, his belief being that the painter is outside time and is, therefore, not concerned with place or space either.”

Breton Boy in Profile stands out from other paintings of young peasants by its great formal radicalism. The artist plays on the complementarity of colors and juxtaposes wide stripes without any fading or softening effect between the different shades.
The modeling is obtained only by optical effect by breaking the orientation of the bands of colors and by creating sharp breaks between the tones. As such, the contrast of light on the young boy’s face is particularly illuminating. Only a slight green circle helps to distinguish this face from the background of the painting entirely built on these same processes. The visual strength of the whole gives this painting a great expressiveness and an assumed decorative character.

Roderic O'Conor est un artiste très rare en collections publiques à travers le monde. Les musées français conservent essentiellement des œuvres graphiques, dessins ou gravures (Rennes, Quimper, Pont-Aven et Orsay). Cette acquisition constitue une occasion exceptionnelle d’enrichir les collections nationales.

A Burne-Jones stained-glass window given by SAMO

Edward Burne-Jones pour Morris & CoEnoch© DR
Morris & Co was created in 1861 on the initiative of William Morris, founder of the Arts & Crafts movement in England and close to pre-Raphaelite painters, including Edward Burne-Jones.
Morris & Co worked regularly for the decoration and furniture of churches, this was the case here for the chapel of the Cheadle Royal Hospital in Manchester, decorated between 1906 and 1915. The stained glass windows were designed from older models by Burne-Jones, made between 1874 and 1876.

Enoch is a biblical patriarch. The Book book of Genesis teaches us that he was taken up to heaven by God to be by his side. Christian tradition considers that the ascent of Enoch to heaven, like that of Elijah, foreshadows the ascension of Christ.
Enoch is mentionned in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "It was by faith that Enoch was taken up, without his having suffered death: he was not found any more, because God had taken him up."
This is a rare iconography, which can be explained here by the proximity to the figure of Noah, of whom Enoch is reputed to be the grandfather, and the system of correspondences with the parts of the decoration evoking the New Testament. The same Burne-Jones design was used for two other stained-glass windows installed by Morris & Co: for Calcutta Cathedral and for Saint Martin Church on Sloane Street in Chelsea.

The composition imagined by Burne-Jones highlights the imposing silhouette of the patriarch and offers a plastic solution to his abduction by God.
We see in fact the hands of Enoch and the Most High meeting in the upper right corner; this gesture testifies both to Enoch's closeness to God during his earthly life and to the divine will to withdraw Enoch from the secular world and bring him close to him.

Both Enoch’s face and its morphology correspond to Burne-Jones’s taste for figures of the Italian Renaissance. The implementation of its design by practitioner George Titcomb recalls the style of stained glass designed by Morris.
We see a search for depth of tones (blue, red, green) rivaling medieval glassmakers but also a more contemporary desire to let light enter the building through a soft background. This background, formed of regular diamonds and decorated with painted floral motifs evoking the mille fiori, brings a decorative dimension to the stained glass window.

This magnificent stained-glass window joined the Orsay Museum thanks to the generosity of SAMO, which has supported the enrichment of our collections for forty years.

Edouard Manet, "Head of a young man after Filippino Lippi’s Self-portrait"

Edouard ManetHead of a young man after Filippino Lippi’s Self-portrait© DR
The Musée d'Orsay is pleased to announce the acquisition by way of pre-emption of a painting by Edouard Manet entitled "Head of a young man after Filippino Lippi’s Self-portrait" (1853).
Early paintings by Manet are rare, the artist probably destroyed or gave away most of his early works, the execution of which hardly satisfied him. We only know about ten remaining copies from the old masters.

The copy executed by Manet is faithful to the sketched rendering of the original (kept at the Uffizi Museum in Florence), more graphic than pictorial. However, Manet has left the details aside in order to focus on the expression of the model, with a questioning and worried look.

The perceptible gap between Lippi's work and the copy (proportions of the face, clothing barely sketched), already testifies to a certain freedom of interpretation.
This is a major acquisition for the Musée d’Orsay, which until now did not own any of the artist's youthful copies, although they are essential to apprehend the rest of his work.


Maurice Denis, "The Green Christ"

Maurice DenisThe Green Christ© DR
The Green Christ, a masterpiece by Maurice Denis, was only shown in public to his visitors, during his lifetime, and possibly also circulated at meetings of the Nabis.

For Denis, artistic vocation and religious sentiment were inseparable. Painted in 1890, The Green Christ brought a period of questioning to a close: while the young man wanted to follow in the footsteps of Fra Angelico and become a monk-painter, the discovery of the life of the “Atelier” with its “frivolity and debauchery" presented him with a profound dilemma. It was in 1889 that he identified the path that would enable him to combine the Cloister and the Studio: "I believe that art should sanctify nature; I believe that Vision without Spirit is futile, and that the mission of the aesthete is to erect things of beauty as everlasting icons".

This painting thus belongs to a group of small pictures on the Crucifixion, created during this change of direction, blending the inspiration of Christ with new visual experimentation, and achieving here a form of abstraction unequalled in Denis’ career.

The strength of the work is in being simple yet mysterious at the same time. The figure of Christ occupies the main part of the composition. It stands out on a yellow cross, against a vivid red background. Lower down, various shades of yellow sketch out figures: angels collecting the blood of Christ, praying and processional figures gathering at the foot of the cross. In the foreground are a few tufts of vegetation evoking Paradise, and a white flower in bloom, the symbol of Resurrection and Salvation. The subject is thus more complex than it seems. Is it a crucifixion scene or the representation of a crucifix or a calvary? Earthly and Heavenly registers are combined.

The colours, a reduced palette, and the lines, do not describe, but act as "visual equivalents" designed to create emotion. The yellows recall the golden backgrounds of icons, but above all, those of the Primitives and Fra Angelico. The yellow also evokes the sacred and the light that emanates from Christ. Green is the colour of the liturgy and hope, and here, as in The Green Trees (1893, musée d'Orsay), it is associated with spirituality.

The Green Christ is certainly the most radical of the artist’s works, and, in this respect, is without equal in his painting and in the art of the late 19th century. Its acquisition enriches the Musée d'Orsay’s collection of Nabi and Post-Impressionist paintings, the most complete in the world, and reaffirms the place of Maurice Denis and the Nabis, only established in the 1960s, in the history of the avant-garde and modern movements.

René Béclu, "Mask of Victor Hugo"

René BécluMask of Victor Hugo© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
René Béclu was a sculptor who prematurely passed away aged 32 in the trenches of the First World War. In Lyon, people strolling through the city’s major park – the Parc de la Tête d’or – can admire an imposing group of figures sculpted in marble: The Secret, a sculpture the French state bought from Béclu in 1913.
This mask is one of countless depictions of Victor Hugo, a leading national figure of France culture and history. In sculpture, Rodin’s work is especially noteworthy, the artist having made over a hundred such portrayals.

As for Béclu, he probably sculpted his mask around the start of the 20th century, about 15 years after the writer died.
To do so, he joined forces with the workshop Émile Muller et Compagnie, which had been making enamelled sandstone works by contemporary sculptors since 1880.

Although only 36cm tall, the face has a monumental aura, giving it remarkable presence. The enamel is fashioned with refinement, even a certain brutality that recalls the works of Jean Carriès (1855–1894). The coloured meshing directly evokes this ceramics artist.
The way the enamel is worked therefore avoids realism, while the poet’s face has a dramatic, sombre tone. By giving blue-turquoise veins to the mask, which is left beige, and by producing a surprising face, Béclu made a work that borders on unease.


Louis Godineau de la Bretonnerie, "Marble temple "

Louis Godineau de la BretonnerieDraft of the planned marble temple, plan© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
In 1856, Jan Hendrick Vriès, nicknamed the ‘Black Doctor’, produced a self-published booklet entitled ‘Order from God to build the temple of the kingdom of Christ, predicted by Solomon (Song of Songs, Chapters VIII and IX), described by Ezekiel (Chapters XI to XLVIII) and shown to Vriès in a vision’ in which he organised a competition open to architects ‘of all nations’ for construction of this temple. The temple would be on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, which he referred to as the ‘centre of the world’, and would be built from alabaster. It would symbolise the coming together of all faiths to blend into a single religion. Vriès stipulated that ‘the artist [...] should not lose sight of the fact that the temple is a sacred edifice dedicated to God, which, in terms of splendour and magnitude, should rival Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, Milan Cathedral, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, Cologne Cathedral, etc.’

Only one architect applied for the competition, and therefore won first prize. This architect was Louis Godineau de la Bretonnerie, a name we know because of the signature on the drawing and mention of him in the era’s articles on the high-profile trial of the Black Doctor in February 1860. Indeed, patients of the Black Doctor quickly denounced him after he took advantage of them, mainly by making them believe he would cure them of their cancer. The two most famous patients of this sham doctor were Adolphe Sax and Hector Berlioz. To thank the doctor, the latter even wrote a ‘Hymn for the consecration of the new Tabernacle’ in 1859, referring to the planned temple for all religions.

Louis Godineau de la Bretonnerie is often confused with his older brother Henry-Alexandre de la Bretonnerie. Indeed, archives show that the two brothers worked together on several projects, the first as an engineer and architect, the second as an architect trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. They both worked on Monte Carlo Casino in 1858 and this collaboration created some confusion.
Louis Godineau de la BretonnerieDraft of the planned marble temple© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

The drawings form a scaled-down version of a drawing that Louis Godineau produced for Vriès, described in the periodical Journal des Débats as a watercolour 3m long and 30cm wide, stretched on a frame and displayed in the hall of Vriès’s apartment. It is described as a depiction of the temple in the middle of the Champs-Elysées, next to the pavilion of the Paris Word Fair (perhaps the Palace of Industry). However, the scaled-down drawing does not show this view of Paris. Rather, the temple is located in an architectural setting that recalls the layout of Place Vendôme, the background showing the towers of the church of Saint-Sulpice and, on the right, a sort of artesian well!

The temple itself does not fail to surprise us, with its colossal dimensions and highly classical style, just like its backer wanted. Its references are wide-ranging: the design draws on antiquity (porticoes and triumphal arches), the Renaissance (Donato Bramante's Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome) and the modern period (Christopher Wren’s Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London). The drawings are produced minutely with a pen nib and red ink like an illumination, with countless pencilled details of the French capital’s urban architecture, still unidentified. The outstanding finish of the drawings and the remarkable story behind this order make this work unique and one that remains mysterious to this day.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela, "Palokärki" / Great Black Woodpecker

Akseli Gallen-KallelaPalokärki / Great Black Woodpecker© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Akseli Gallen-Kallela, to whom the Musée d'Orsay devoted an exhibition in 2012, is Finland’s leading artist, the only one to have achieved truly international recognition during his lifetime, one of the main creators of a Finnish national culture undergoing a major revival at a time of struggle for an independence acquired from Russia in 1917.
Palokärki / Great Black Woodpecker is one of his masterpieces, the first painting by the artist to enter the collections of the Musée d'Orsay and French public collections after the acquisition by the museum in 2006 of a rug produced from his drawings. The painting here has come to represent a leading painter of the late 19th century, who made many visits to Paris and spent long periods here, adding to the panorama of foreign schools and demonstrating their vitality, long ignored in France.

After his first apprenticeship in Helsinki, Gallen-Kallela trained in Paris at the Academy Julian (1884-1889) and the Atelier Cormon (1887-1889), while returning to Finland for the long summer season, which prevented him from truly putting down roots in the Parisian art scene.
In Paris, he would later contribute to the decoration of the Finnish pavilion in the 1900 Universal Exhibition.
Landscape played a crucial role throughout Gallen-Kallela’s career, a symbol of the Finnish cultural identity just like the legends of the Kalevala and the folk costumes and crafts.

It was during the summer of 1892, when looking for somewhere to live in the heart of Finland, in North Karelia, that Gallen-Kallela stayed on the shores of Lake Paanajärvi. Here, he painted his first “pure” landscapes, without any figures at all, the direct expression of a Finnish soul nurtured by its natural environment - its huge area of forests and lakes.

Palokärki / Great Black Woodpecker was painted during this quest for roots. With the presence of the bird, “fire crest” in Finnish, the painter gives the landscape an allegorical dimension, which he described as: "the cry of an individual's life in the silence of the wilderness". A more political interpretation can be made of this motif: a country struggling against the Russian occupier, alone in its adversity.
Gallen-Kallela first made a large gouache drawing of the subject, which did not satisfy him and which he tore up. His wife retrieved the pieces, and the following winter glued them back on to a canvas, and the artist revised his decision (Helsinki, National Gallery of Finland). He then undertook the present version in oil, in the same imposing format (145x91 cm), which he finished in 1894.

In 1895, the artist finally found the place he was looking for, on the shore of Lake Ruovesi, 200 km north of Helsinki, and built a large house with a studio that was traditional in both style and inspiration, incorporating Modernist Art Nouveau elements and which he named Kalela. He further identified himself with the site by adding this name to his Swedish patronymic of Gallen in 1907.
This acquisition was made with the support of the artist’s family, a tribute to Jorma, Pirkko and Aivi Gallen-Kallela.

Main acquisitions by the Musée d'Orsay in 2019

Steinlen’s drawings for "Gil Blas"

Théophile Alexandre SteinlenCarnival Scene© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
The Musée d'Orsay has acquired through pre-emption at auction an exceptional collection of sketches, drawings and watercolours by Alexandre-Théophile Steinlen that are of major interest in regard to the popular culture of the Belle Époque.

The majority of the works are linked to publications of the Gil Blas illustré, a successful weekly journal that published songs, poems and serialised novels with colour illustrations, and to which Steinlen was one of the most prolific contributors.
Three quarters of the drawings in these albums were produced for this magazine, illustrating novellas (Alphonse Allais, Georges Courteline, Guy de Maupassant, Jean Lorrain, Camille Lemonnier, Maurice Donnay,etc.), songs and poetry.

The drawings are mounted on fifty pages gathered into two albums. The acquisition has prevented the breaking up of this collection, which was probably put together during the artist’s lifetime for a bibliophile collector wanting to conserve the drawings produced for magazines.
The edges of these albums are entirely gilded, and their binding is the work of Marius Michel (1846-1925), one of the most important bookbinders working in France at the turn of the 19th century.

Théophile Alexandre SteinlenNight© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
The assembled drawings in Steinlen’s extensive graphic production are of very high quality, and complete the studio collection (2400 sheets) already in the Musée d'Orsay. This came into the national collections in 1970 through a bequest by the artist’s daughter, Colette Desormière.

Although the first eight sheets of the albums are sketches, similar to those in the studio collection, the subsequent drawings are very accomplished.
The artist paid particular attention to the colours, both in watercolour and in crayon, achieving great subtlety of tone in some drawings, in Carnival Scene for example. These drawings show the range of his talent as an illustrator, in dialogue with his contemporaries : between Expressionism (Night, Le P’tiot ), eroticism in the style of Félicien Rops (Against Dogs), the arabesques and synthesis of the Nabis and the dynamic, lively line of Toulouse-Lautrec (Two Washerwomen, a drawing produced for Le Rire).

Like Hermann-Paul, whose drawings for Le Cri de Paris were acquired by the museum in 2017, Steinlen favoured a concise and powerful graphic language in order to caricature his contemporaries and to write incisive satire about social violence.
His illustrations are characterised by a feeling of rhythm, with framings and lighting that add to the dramatic effect without falling into anecdote.

Although the artist contributed to the picturesque view of late 19th century Paris in Montmartre, he imbues his drawings with a power that goes beyond documenting his era, and gives the works a great richness, whose visual language in support of political commitment, in its broadest sense, has not lost its impact.

George Morren, "To Harmony (public garden)"

George MorrenA l’Harmonie (Jardin public) © Musée d’Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
A painter, sculptor and creator of applied objets d'art in the Art Nouveau movement, George Morren was a Belgian artist who is little known in France. Born into a bourgeois family of merchants in Antwerp, he had art lessons from the age of 6 from the painter Emile Claus, a close friend of his parents.
Having abandoned his law studies, he attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp for only a few months, finding the teaching too conservative. In 1887, seven paintings by Seurat (including A Sunday on La Grande Jatte) were exhibited for the first time in Brussels at the fourth exhibition of the XX, a circle of innovative artists.

This event was perhaps the starting point for Morren’s change of aesthetic direction. The following year he moved to Paris, where he was a frequent visitor to the studios of Alfred Roll, Eugène Carrière and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.
His commitment to light colours became apparent during his years in Paris with when he discovered Impressionism.
Towards the end of the 1880s, he was influenced by Renoir, admiring the sensual delicacy of his colours. Later, in the early 1890s, Morren joined the circle of Divisionist Belgian painters represented by Henry van de Velde, Théo van Rysselberghe and Willy Finch.

Painted in 1891, the year of Seurat’s death, To Harmony depicts the Koning Albert Park in Antwerp .
The composition has both vivid and light colours reproducing the feeling of a sunny summer’s day in a sheltered environment. Morren’s painting is closer to the decorative treatment in Seurat’s canvases than to those of the Impressionists or the Nabis, who depicted similar subjects.
His characters seem fixed in a harmonious decor reminiscent of those of in A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. He depicts figures-types rather than portraits, with the exception of the girl with the red parasol, who is the only one with a detailed face.

The characters are spread across the space directing the eye across different planes of the composition, from the nearest to the most distant. The impressive figure of the children’s nurse, in her traditional hat with its long wide ribbon, forms a central vanishing point.
The scene illustrates an idealised world where women and well-behaved children are taking care of one another in a well-ordered setting. The gently curving paths, well-kept lawns, flowerbeds, trees trimmed in geometric shapes and park benches reinforce the euphonious nature of the subject.
Yet there is a strangeness about the relationships between the characters.

The painting, very unusual and of exceptional quality in this artist’s work, shows a certain freedom in the application of the scientific technique of the Neo-Impressionists. Morren did not use optical mixing (the juxtaposition of colours on the canvas that the eye recomposes from a distance) but rather placed dots on a painted background to enliven the surface of his painting.
The dabs of colour are distributed across the painting without being contained in shapes. The yellow dots depicting atoms of light stand out in particular, and make the whole painting shimmer.

To Harmony is one of Belgian Neo-Impressionism’s most representative paintings of the early 1890s because of the vibrancy of the colours and the poetic atmosphere of the subject.
It is the first of George Morren’s paintings to enter French public collections. It thus enriches the Neo-Impressionist collection of the musée d'Orsay, in particular the section on Belgian artists, which includes six paintings by Theo van Rysselberghe and two by Emile Claus. It will be exhibited in early 2020 in the gallery on the 5th floor alongside Signac and Seurat.

Ferdinand Barbedienne : Kantharos

Ferdinand BarbedienneKantharos© DR
Ferdinand Barbedienne became known in Paris in the 1830s for his ability to reproduce the work of sculptors in bronze and in the required format. He made small-scale replicas of many of the sculpted works in European museums, destined to adorn modern interiors. Under a publishing agreement with the artists, Barbedienne also reproduced works by contemporary sculptors, such as Rude, Carrier-Belleuse, Barye, Frémiet, Mercié, etc, and created many bronze furnishings and enamelled pieces.
Whether in sculpture or in the decorative arts, Barbedienne was mainly inspired by antique shapes. He thus produced several works based on Gallo-Roman archaeological discoveries, as well as ornamental bronzes for the Prince Napoleon’s Pompeian house in avenue Montaigne.

This drinking cup is evidence of the collaboration of three of the most important names in the French production of 19th century decorative bronzes; indeed, it bears not only the signature of the prolific Barbedienne, but also that of his famous sculptor-ornamentalist Louis Constant Sévin and that of Désiré Attarge, a metal chaser engraver and ornamentalist whose chasing was said to “change bronze into gold.”

Ferdinand BarbedienneKantharos© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
The strictly decorative repertoire was directly inspired by Classical antiquity, and has an architectural dimension. The vine branches, palm and crown of laurel belong to the Classical-style repertoire.
The main side presents an anonymous romantic scene depicting two people in Roman dress. The leaves of the vine branches are in high relief on the principle side, and wind around the geometric decoration on the neck. The large handles, typical on kantharoi, are imposing and composite.
Two significant technical achievements make this drinking cup an exceptional piece: on the one hand, the quality of Sévin’s engraving; on the other, the virtuosity of the polychromy. This bronze piece is in fact encrusted with gold and silver, and has a very beautiful patina, a quality for which Barbedienne was particularly famous.

This drinking cup is therefore an admirable example of the alliance of art and industry that the organisers of the Universal Exhibitions were calling for, and which, in its time, exemplifies Barbedienne’s work.

Paul Gauguin, "The Red Hat"

Paul GauguinLe Chapeau rouge© Christie's
The Musée d’Orsay is pleased to announce the purchase at auction in New York on 12 November 2019 of Paul Gauguin’s painting The Red Hat(1886), recently presented at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais during the exhibition "Paul Gauguin, the Alchemist".
This acquisition enjoyed the generous support of Léonard Gianadda.

In early July 1886, Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) went to Pont-Aven for the first time, as much to escape the pressure of his creditors as to find new sources of inspiration. The first works painted in Brittany were still in the Impressionist style (The Washerwomen of Pont Aven, Musée d’Orsay). Gauguin only moved away from Impressionist principles gradually, and during his stay in Brittany and on his return to Paris in October, produced several highly innovative artworks, somewhere between still life and portraits of objects.
The Red Hat was part of this series, although we cannot be sure if the painting was produced in Paris or in Brittany. However, the treatment of the wall is reminiscent of the wallpaper in another still life, The White Tablecloth (Pola Museum of Art) which dates from the summer of 1886, when Gauguin was staying at the Pension Gloanec.

Gauguin had previously attempted still life, but around 1886 the genre took on a new dimension. Although the vibrant and broken brushwork here was still in the Impressionist vein, it is the use of bright and contrasting colours and the unusual composition that set it apart. A Symbolist dimension has been added.
In fact, the artist depicts an environment that looks ordinary but is difficult to decipher, as the usual points of reference and hierarchies are blurred. He represents what is certainly a hat upside down on the corner of a table, a red shape dominating the white tablecloth, which would be difficult to recognise without further context. In the background, a pile of three straw hats completes this arrangement. In the foreground, three fruits, probably nectarines or plums, allow the artist both an interplay of red on red and a contrast of complementary colours (the red of the fruits and hat/the green of the leaves).
Gauguin tackles a motif - hats - that Degas had been painting since the early 1880s in his works on milliners.
Some of these scenes of urban life featured in the Impressionist Exhibition of 1886 in which Gauguin took part. It is possible to see a tribute here, albeit indirect and perhaps distorted, to Degas, several of whose paintings Gauguin owned, and who was a key source of inspiration for him.

Beyond the seemingly ordinary motif, everything in this painting is open to interpretation. The hat itself appears malleable, organic almost. The crenellation on the right recalls the artist’s contemporary ceramics. He found an inexhaustible creative source in modelling, and at that time was producing objects in dissonant shapes, intentionally strange and never practical.
The painting is a perfect example of the continual dialogue between Gauguin’s reflections and his practice.

Not without a certain sense of paradox, the inside of the hat, placed in the centre of this composition and dominated by brilliant reds, forms a bottomless black void, which absorbs the viewer’s gaze. Through its intentional ambiguities, The Red Hat is thus part of the nascent Symbolist school, hailed by Jean Moréas’ manifesto published in Le Figaro in September 1886. In it, the poet celebrates "a new manifestation of art", where “the strangeness of the metaphor, a new vocabulary and harmonies blend with colour and line".

With its mystery and its experimental forms and colours, The Red Hat adds a new note to the Musée d’Orsay collection, which already has 26 of Gauguin’s paintings.
This painting will be presented in the recently renovated rooms on the fifth floor devoted to Post-Impressionism. It will benefit from the confrontation between paintings, sculptures and ceramics on which this new presentation of the collections is based. Last year, on 2 October 2018, the Musée d’Orsay bought at auction in London, a vase named "Atahualpa", which has a similar enigmatic dimension.

The acquisition of The Red Hat is in line with an acquisition policy that aims to complete the presence of major artists like Gauguin. In this respect, this transitional work provides the link between the artist’s Impressionist research, like The Washerwomen of Pont Aven (1886) and his most striking paintings produced at Pont-Aven, beginning with the masterpiece The Beautiful Angèle (1889). It also increases the number of still lifes exhibited in the museum, such as Still Life with Fan (around 1889).

The Musée d'Orsay’s recent acquisitions, including two works by Emile Bernard, who was then a close friend of Gauguin, the Self-Portrait with the Painting "Bathers with a Red Cow" and The Pardon, also known as Breton Women in the Meadow reinforce the museum’s status as a reference collection for Post-Impressionist painting.

Émile Bernard, Self-Portrait with the Painting “Bathers with a Red Cow”

Émile BernardAutoportrait au tableau "Baigneuses à la vache rouge"© Christie's
On 18 October 2019, at Christie's in Paris, the Musée d'Orsay pre-empted the sale of Self-Portrait with the Painting "Bathers with a Red Cow" by Émile Bernard.
The acquisition of this work increases the representation of the "Synthetist" movement in our collections, and creates a dialogue with major works like Portrait of the Artist with the Yellow Christ by Gauguin

This striking self-portrait, painted by the young Émile Bernard at the age of 21, depicts him in a three quarters view, staring at us with great assurance, in front of one of his boldest creations of the time, a decoration painted for his studio at Asnières, and of which the Musée d’Orsay possesses one of the three panels (Bathers with a Red Cow, 1888-1889, backdated to 1887 by the artist).
In 1887, the painter turned away from Naturalist and Impressionist principles, and moved towards greater formal simplicity.

During his stay in the Breton village of Pont-Aven in the summer of 1888, along with his older friend Paul Gauguin, he developed "Synthetism”, a new and radical style of painting, the result of their joint research: the painted surface has no modelling or perspective; the line is used to simplify and separate the coloured areas of the painting, and enhances the colour.

In this Autoportrait au tableau "Baigneuses à la vache rouge" [Self-Portrait with the Painting "Bathers with a Red Cow"] Bernard again takes up the results of his experiments in Brittany, in particular the bold range of colours and the simplified flat areas separated by dark outlines.
By posing in front of the reversed image of a detail of the three-panel decoration that he had just finished (probably using its reflection in a mirror), he affirms the importance of decoration in his creative work. This painting is also an accomplished example of the recurrent introspection in Émile Bernard’s work.

An earlier, smaller self-portrait had already placed him in the studio at Asnières; he was then portraying himself in front of what was only a sketch of the future decoration (around 1889, private collection).
A few months later, he would pose once again in front of his composition, with a much closer framing (1890, Musée des Beaux Arts de Brest).

Gustave Caillebotte, "Landscape at Argenteuil"

Gustave CaillebottePaysage à Argenteuil© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Landscape at Argenteuil by Gustave Caillebotte, acquired by acceptance in lieu, has joined the national collections of the Musée d’Orsay.

In 1887, Gustave Caillebotte settled permanently in Petit-Gennevilliers (near Paris), where he drew inspiration for his works. Regattas, gardening and public action in the service of his commune sometimes took time away from his painting. Landscape at Argenteuil dates from this latter period in the artist’s life, dominated by outdoor landscapes.

Here, Caillebotte depicts the village of Argenteuil seen from the plain at Petit-Gennevilliers, on the opposite bank of the River Seine. Following in the footsteps of Monet, Sisley, Manet, Renoir and Morisot, he worked in one of the most iconic Impressionist regions in the first half of the 1870s.
For this painting, Caillebotte set himself up on a small hill, slightly elevated, with a dominant view, as was his preference, and from which he derived such spectacular effects in his urban scenes in the 1870s. In a reversal of hierarchy and the normal rules of composition, two trees form the main motif, relegating the village to the distance.

Caillebotte counters the disorder of the vegetation in the foreground with the fields that stretch out behind the trees. The painter portrays a nature cultivated and transformed by humans (the vegetable crops from the plain were transported to the market halls every evening), even though Landscape at Argenteuil is devoid of any human presence.
In a style characteristic of Impressionism, the light palette, the fluidity of the strokes and the outdoor light transcend the deliberately commonplace and familiar character of the site represented. With this painting, Caillebotte demonstrates his fidelity to the sites and precepts of Impressionist landscapes.

For all these reasons, Landscape at Argenteuil represents an extraordinary addition to the public national collections.

The painting will be visible for several weeks at the Musée d'Orsay as of Tuesday 15 October. It will then conserved at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Baron Gérard in Bayeux. It will join Portraits in the Countryside (1876) which Caillebotte, as with Landscape at Argenteuil, gifted to his first cousin Zoé Fermal, born Caillebotte. The landscape was an engagement gift to the young woman, while Portraits was given as a gift for her wedding in Bayeux.

Jean Daurelle’s works by Caillebotte. An outstanding bequest to the Musée d’Orsay

Gustave CaillebotteLegs Marie-Jeanne Daurelle© Musée d'Orsay / Sophie Crépy
Five works by the Impressionist painter Gustave Caillebotte are entering the Musée d’Orsay collections. This represents a major new asset for the national collections, which only previously featured seven works by the artist. Caillebotte himself was also a generous donor and by equeathing his collection in 1894, he brought works by his Impressionist friends into the museum.
These five works are a bequest from Marie-Jeanne Daurelle (1935-2018), great granddaughter of Jean Daurelle, the Caillebotte family’s butler in the late 19th century.

Like many Frenchmen of his generation, Jean Daurelle (1830-1893), the son of a pit sawyer from the Loire region, left the countryside to seek work in Paris. Records show that Jean was in service with the Caillebotte family from 1870.
After the death of their parents, Gustave and his brother Martial retained him in Paris, at their country house in Yerres, and then in Le Petit-Gennevilliers.

As a servant and a model, he posed for three paintings, two of which are exhibited here. Jean’s son Camille Daurelle (1868-1930) is also depicted here by Caillebotte in two pastels.

The bequest is currently on display (without both pastels for conservation reasons) in the Impressionist Gallery on the 5th floor, Room 31.

The Works

Gustave CaillebottePortrait of Camille Daurelle© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Portrait of Camille Daurelle

Camille Daurelle was nine years old when Caillebotte produced this close-up portrait in the garden in Yerres, which is simply conjured up by the diagonal in the background dividing the space into two strips of white and green.
Reconnecting with the 18th century pastel portrait tradition, the artist revitalises the genre and dynamically captures his model in a candid pose outdoors.

This portrait reflects a close rapport between the artist and the young boy, which flouts the traditional hierarchies of age and social status.

Gustave CaillebotteCamille Daurelle in the Garden in Yerres© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais
Camille Daurelle in the Garden in Yerres

Caillebotte draws the child from a bird’s-eye viewpoint as he pauses in the garden at the intersection of several paths.
The model is not posing, but is captured in an informal attitude on a bend in the path, in a style which is filmic to the modern eye.

The unusual bright blues in these two pastel portraits were noted by critics when they were shown at the fifth Impressionist Exhibition in 1880.
Caillebotte collected pastels by Degas and they shared an interest in this rapid technique which combines drawing and colour.

Gustave CaillebotteTrees in Blossom© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Trees in Blossom
Oil on Canvas

In the late 1870s, Gustave Caillebotte and his brother Martial sold the family house in Yerres, near Paris. In 1881, they acquired a property in Le Petit-Gennevilliers, which was a popular location for boating, a sport which the two brothers enjoyed.

Trees in Blossom is one of the first paintings depicting this property, which they renovated and extended extensively, and it became the artist’s main home in the final years of his life.
Gardens in blossom were one of Caillebotte’s favourite subjects and he was a keen horticulturist, like his friend Claude Monet.

Gustave CaillebotteJean Daurelle© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay)
Portrait of Jean Daurelle, bust
Circa 1885
Oil on Canvas

The artist often used family and friends as models and here he asks his servant to pose for a very honest head and shoulders portrait, executed in a direct manner using a restricted colour palette.

In contrast to Caillebotte’s Impressionist portraits of the 1870s and early 1880s, the sitter is not depicted in a real setting, in an interior, but against a neutral background.
This portrait has never previously been shown in public.

Gustave CaillebotteJean Daurelle, full-length© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Portrait of Jean Daurelle, full-length
Oil on Canvas

Caillebotte depicted Jean Daurelle for the first time in 1876, in a modern genre scene entitled Lunch (private collection).
The butler is depicted waiting at table.

In this picture painted ten years later, there is no obvious difference in social status between the model and the painter. He confers on Jean Daurelle the honour of a full-length portrait, a format which was usually the preserve of the elite.
Just like the members of the Parisian middle class depicted by Caillebotte in his large urban scenes in the 1870s, the model is shown standing with his hands behind his back, wearing a frock coat and top hat.

Second Hays donation to France

Marlene et Spencer Hays© Sophie Crépy
Following the exceptional donation to France of 187 works in October 2016 by the American couple Marlene and Spencer Hays, Franck Riester, Minister of Culture, is delighted to announce the second part of this donation, granted with a life interest, by Marlene Hays to the Musée d’Orsay.
One hundred and six new works (40 paintings, 47 works on paper and 19 sculptures) complete the first set, bringing the total donation to 293 pieces, and making it one of the most generous gifts in the history of the Musée d’Orsay.

The hundred or so works that Marlene Hays is giving to the national collections today – thus continuing the wishes of her husband Spencer who died in March 2017 – are in the same spirit.
Revealing a passion for late 19th century and early 20th century French art, it comprises ten paintings by Pierre Bonnard (including Girl with a Dog, 1894), nine by Edouard Vuillard (including At La Divette, Cabourg, 1911-1913), three by Maurice Denis (including Noli me Tangere, around 1891) and two paintings by Félix Vallotton (including The Cook, 1892) and also a rare relief by Georges Lacombe (Laundry at Ivry, 1894), brilliantly completing the Nabis collection.

It also includes exceptional works by Émile Bernard, Camille Claudel and Odilon Redon. Major paintings by Robert Delaunay (Woman with Bread, 1905), Henri Matisse (Woman in Yellow, 1923) and Amedeo Modigliani (Woman with a Rose, Margherita, 1916), also affirm an openness towards the 20th century, strengthening the link between the collections of the Musée d’Orsay and those of the Musée de l’Orangerie.
Finally, the 47 drawings in this second part of the donation take us into the artists’ laboratory, underlining the Intimist dimension of the collection. Some drawings, like Manet’s exceptional preparatory study for The Balcony and Bonnard’s sketches, form a direct link with the paintings already in the Musée d’Orsay.

Reflecting the first part of the donation, these 106 works add the final touch to a sensitive and personal overview, with the emphasis on the representation of the human figure, French art from the second half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century.

Ringel d’Illzach, "Man mask"

Ringel d’IllzachMan mask© DR
The Musée d’Orsay has acquired a strange, rare work by the Alsatian sculptor Jean-Désiré Ringel, known as Ringel d’Illzach, who was keen on technical experiments, mainly in ceramic and wax.
This Man mask was first presented to the public at the Salon de la Société nationale des beaux-arts art fair in 1895, with eight other “decorative portraits in hard, coloured wax”; hung upon hooks on simple wooden boards. This arrangement tended to underline the macabre dimension of these disconnected heads, which formed sundry portraits of strangers.

Unsold, the Man mask went with Ringel to Strasbourg when he settled there definitively in 1904. It can be seen in a photograph taken in the workshop of the Palais Rohan. Ringel gave the mask to his friend and associate, the ceramist Léon Elchinger, then it ended up in the hands of his descendants.

The bearded man has two tufts of hair shaped like horns, giving him a diabolic look. A close study revealed unevenness in the face: the slightly off-kilter nose and the crookedness of the upper lip suggest a labial slit commonly called a harelip.
This facial malformation highlights the nineteenth-century interest in identifying and classing anatomical pathologies, displayed on boards.

The awkwardness is emphasised by the material Ringel used: polychrome wax, the ultra-realism of which surprised critics at the time. Joris-Karl Huysmans was especially fascinated by the hypnotic strangeness of the Jeune prince Médicis [Young Medici Prince](Strasbourg, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art).
Ringel took an interest in wax from the end of the 1870s onwards, perfecting his technique to make it more resistant and give it a realistic appearance through polychrome. The technique used to produce the work is typical of the artist’s wax oeuvres: in a mould, Ringel cast a thin layer forming the skin, strengthened with several successive layers within the mask.

The Man mask is the first Ringel wax piece to join the Musée d’Orsay collections and provides the chance to display this work alongside that by Henry Cros, the other leading wax sculptor at the end of the nineteenth century.

Emile Bernard, "The Pardon" also called "Breton Women in the meadow"

Emile BernardThe Pardon, also called Bretons Women in the meadow© Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Emile Bernard painted The Pardon when he was just twenty years old, during a period of intense artistic emulation coloured by his friendship with Paul Gauguin.
The two painters met in the Breton village of Pont-Aven in the summer of 1888. As keen innovators, they took an interest in all forms of art and derived a new idiom from medieval enamels, tapestries and stained glass, and both Épinal and Japanese prints.
Their collaboration soon culminated in the development of Synthetism, for which this painting is one of the most radical manifestos. This new style is characterised by simplified forms, pure colours applied in flat areas, and masses separated by dark outlining.

In this painting, Bernard shows unprecedented boldness: the painted surface is deliberately made as flat as possible. Outlining simplifies and separates the coloured areas of the painting and lines are used to highlight colours.
There is no horizon line, sky or perspective. The green background, on which the figures are superimposed in flat areas of colour, creates a sense of restraint, accentuated by the tight framing which truncates some elements of the composition, such as the red umbrella and the two women in the foreground.

The young artist created this painting on 16 September 1888, after attending the Pardon of Pont-Aven, a major religious festival. Several days earlier, Gauguin had begun to paint another masterpiece of Synthetism Vision of the Sermon (Scottish National Gallery). The stylistic affinity between the two works is no coincidence as the two painters worked side by side.

Having taken his leave of Bernard on 21 October, Gauguin brought The Pardon to Arles to show to Van Gogh. The Dutch painter was extremely impressed and made a copy of it (Milano, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna).

This painting, which has been declared a major national heritage artefact, was acquired with the exclusive patronage of the AXA group. On display room 9, level 0.

André Derain, "Still Life with Fruit"

André DerainStill Life with Fruit© Adagp / Christie’s Images Ltd 2019
Acquired at public auction on 4 June 2019, Nature morte aux fruits [Still Life with Fruit] (1920) by André Derain joins the rich collection of works by the artist conserved by the Musée de l’Orangerie, testifying to the ties that bind the painter and the art dealer Paul Guillaume, at the origin of this collection.
Indeed, it was at the Paul Guillaume gallery in 1916 that Derain held his first solo exhibition, on the initiative of Guillaume Apollinaire. In 1922 he signed an exclusive purchasing agreement for his works with the dealer, the start of a prolific collaboration that only came to an end on the sudden death of Paul Guillaume in 1934.
Nature morte aux fruits [Still Life with Fruit] is a natural continuation of the homogeneous corpus of works by Derain held by the Orangerie, composed of landscapes, still lifes, nudes and portraits, and representative of Paul Guillaume’s taste for the artist’s classical genre.

After his instigating role in the Fauve revolution of the early 20th century, Derain’s style gradually shifted. On the eve of the First World War, he confirmed his penchant for the Italian primitives, in emergence since 1911. La Cène [The Last Supper] (Chicago, The Art Institute), painted the same year, reflects this new technique. Drawing on the works of the Old Masters, Derain established his archaic, synthetic and planar aesthetic in this painting, whose matte chromatic counters the excesses of Fauvism.

Called up at the start of the war, Derain returned to his paintbrushes in 1918 while on leave. Posted the following year in Mayence, he discovered the textile industry and the world of theatre, designing sets and costumes for L’Annonce faite à Marie [The Annunciation of Marie] by Claudel, before turning his hand to the sets, costumes and stage curtain of La Boutique fantasque (also known as The Magic Toyshop), presented by the Ballets Russes at the Alhambra Theatre in London on 5 June 1919.
Painted during this period Nature morte aux fruits [Still Life with Fruit] pays tribute to this theatre aesthetic, which reproduces Derain’s pre-war style.
Just like a theatre set, the composition is uncluttered and synthetic. The flat style of the leaves is characteristic of the artist’s work in 1919-1920, as is the cylindrical and high portrayal of the terracotta pot.

Derain’s fascination with the decorative combines with his passion for Quattrocento painting in this work. The light palette and the stylised forms recall the matte colours used by Sienese artists while the bird brings to mind the fresco Prêche de Saint François [Sermon to the Birds] produced by Giotto for the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. This motif can also be seen in Le Joueur de cornemuse [The Bagpiper] dating from 1911 (Minneapolis Institute of Art), representative of the artist’s ‘Byzantine’ or ‘Gothic’ period.

Powerful and abstruse, with great formal simplicity, Nature morte aux fruits [Still Life with Fruit] attests to Derain’s desire to attain the silent truth of things, basing his works on a "spiritual cosmogony".

Emile Gallé, "Heraldic dragon"

Emile GalléHeraldic dragon© Artcurial / Stéphane Briolant
This Dragon is an exceptional piece in Emile Gallé ‘s body of work, a real milestone in his artistic career, as this work, dated 1894, brings together, in this one piece, a whole series of elements that form the creative world of this artist from Nancy: the shape recalling the earthenware works inspired by the repertoire of traditional art, his archaeological and Asian sources, his liking for zoomorphic containers, his interest in working with glass, and the Symbolist aspect of his vases.

In this case he was probably inspired by pieces from the former royal collections that he had seen in the Louvre. Two late 16th century ewers, one in jasper, the other in rock crystal, are particularly similar in shape to this Dragon. These are works in pierre dure, whose various parts are connected by rings in precious metal. Through his work as a glassmaker, Gallé has therefore re-appropriated the secular tradition of using pierre dure as a plastic medium.
He also picks up the heraldic aspect of ancient works. Gallé was familiar with this having produced heraldic table services in his youth, and he retains this “canting” dimension in his most accomplished works. Here, the enamelled ring around the animal’s neck bears the motto "ainsi me devez tenir en vo servage", (thus you must keep me in your service), a chivalrous expression whose interpretation retains its mystery.

Designed as a perfume bottle in the form of an urn, the object expresses the symbolic aspect of the ancient perfume bottle, enclosing an ancient fragrance that evaporates when opened, and which inspired Gallé to produce powerful meditative works on the ephemeral nature of life and the eternity of the world, such as the perfume bottle Raisins mystérieux [Mysterious Grapes], also in the Musée d'Orsay.
The presence of the Dragon héraldique [heraldic Dragon] was confirmed during the exhibition at the Galérie Poirel in Nancy in 1894, which marked the beginning of the Alliance provinciale des Industries d’art de Lorraine, the future École de Nancy, and also during the 1895 Salon and the Universal Exhibition of 1900, proof of the importance that the artist gave to this work.

Charles Nègre, "Model Reclining" and "Hand Study"

Charles NègreModel reclining© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
The Musée d’Orsay has acquired two particularly rare works by Charles Nègre, a pioneer of 19th century French photography: the only listed print of Modèle allongé dans l'atelier de l'artiste [Model reclining in the artist's studio], a print on salted paper that has been excellently conserved, and the negative of a Etude de main [Hand Study] for which there is no known positive picture.
The two photographs were produced at the turn of the 1840-50s, that is to say the time when the young painter who exhibited at the Salon de Paris, a convert to the medium since 1844, abandoned daguerreotype in favour of a paper-based technique.

Model reclining in the artist's studio is part of a clearly identified series of studies of nude and dressed female models. The print - striking in the choice of the almost unerringly natural pose - joins another negative in the collection from another equally unconventional study, Nu allongé sur un lit dans l’atelier de l’artiste [Nude lying on a bed in the artist's studio].

Charles NègreHand Study© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Almost its contemporary, Hand Study has its own distinctive place in Nègre’s production. The fact that it presages a long series of representations dedicated to the same motif garnered it a place in Henry Buhl’s collection for a while, a true history of hand photography from its origins to the 2000s including Neues Sehen and Surrealism.

Since its inception, the Musée d'Orsay has gradually built up what now forms the world’s most representative selection of the photographic works of Charles Nègre.
This selection includes numerous major pieces, several of which are classed as “national treasures”. Beyond their exceptional and rare character, the two photographs recently added to the collections share the same origins, having been acquired in the mid-20th century by the collector André Jammes, directly from the artist’s descendants.

Xavier Mellery, "Girl in Marken"

Xavier MelleryGirl in Marken© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Xavier Mellery, born of a Flemish father and Walloon mother, Prix de Rome 1870, is above all known for his intimate world of silence and solitude, developed in his black and white drawings, where the subtle dialogue between shadow and light create an atmosphere of contemplation.
At the same time, he produced allegoric decorative projects, summaries of his fascination for the frescos he admired during his stay in Italy, from the work of Puvis de Chavannes and Pre-Raphaelite painters.

Petite fille à Marken [Girl in Marken] is part of a series corresponding to his stays in Marken, a Zeelandic island in the province of North Holland, Netherlands, at the time still a wild and rugged land that inspired in Mellery what Brittany inspired in Gauguin: the Marken period was pivotal in the artist’s career as it led him to move away from Academic art once and for all and to focus on an art midway between Realism and Symbolism.

A young girl, wearing traditional clothing, is firmly depicted within the space and dominates the composition. At her feet encircling the girl is a disproportionately large anchor.
Behind her, a beached boat, drawn to a smaller scale, is washed up far from shore.

In the background, a group of young girls dressed like her are dancing in a circle, while further off identical figures in procession are moving away in parallel to a path running along the wooden fishermen’s houses and the masts.
A minuscule cow is grazing on the green shoreline. Grey clouds, stationary like the rest of the painting, litter a sky that occupies just a small portion of the vertical landscape.

The young girl staring at the viewer without blinking is surrounded by an anchor, like a symbol of saints or allegories; the anchor is the traditional symbol of hope and the strength of Christian faith.
An allegory of hope, the personification of Marken, a fishing and farming village frozen in time, she demonstrates her confidence in the permanence of her country’s customs and traditions. But with her anchor and her empty boat run ashore, she could also be an image of death, transposed into contemporary Holland.
The circle behind her represents the circle of life, and the tiny figures are moving along the path of existence.

Whatever the meaning, the image remains mysterious, and the young girl with her threatening tranquillity can be categorised in the same family of troubling children as those of Géricault and Van Gogh, the little girls of Cassatt, Steinlen and Spilliaert, whose lineage continues all the way to the robust little girls/women of Paula Rego.
The juxtaposition of elements on different scales and polysemous creates an impression of a dreamlike strangeness.

In a style faithful to Dutch pictorial tradition, combining attention to detail and anti-spectacular simplicity, this drawing by Mellery joins the many works on paper by the Symbolists, particularly in Belgium, who found in drawing the perfect additive to express their dreams and inner visions.

Carel Adolf Lion-Cachet, armchair

Carel Adolf Lion-CachetArmchair© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
As of 1906, Carel Adolf Lion-Cachet received commissions to furnish liners and worked for big Dutch companies like KPM, the Royal Packet Navigation Co., and JCJL, the Java-China-Japan Line.
This armchair was part of a commission for the Jan Pietersz Coen liner, which set sail on its maiden voyage in 1915. The Netherlands’ largest liners could carry over two hundred 1st class passengers, who were provided with luxurious furnishings and installations.
The ship was in service until 1939, before being scuttled at the entrance to the port of Ijmuiden during the German invasion of 1940 to prevent the German ships from entering.

The use of Macassar ebony, an exotic wood that was highly coveted in the 1920s for its contrasting grain, enhances the decorative and precious aspect of the armchair. This elegance in the decoration and material helps soften the overall shape of this piece of furniture, which is somewhat solid and imposing with its high seat cushion.
The user’s comfort has clearly been taken into account, entirely fitting for a commission for first class furniture on a liner. Indeed, it was during these pre-First World War years that luxury liners emerged, the interior fittings of which were entrusted to decorative artists like Eugène Vallin, Louis Süe, Gustave-Louis Jaulmes and René Lalique.

Lion-Cachet’s decorative repertoire, taking on the batik technique of the 1890s, finds fulfilment here in terms of volume in the sculpted sections of the backrest and armrests.
The decorative motifs are structured around a principle of symmetry, often seen in Lion-Cachet’s work and further emphasised in the 1910s. On the backrest, a Gladius sword in a laurel crown represented in bas-relief corresponds to the coat of arms of Batavia (now Jakarta) as described by Jan Pieterszoon Coen during the 17th century conquest.
This Colonial Empire imagery was very common at the turn of the century in the Netherlands and throughout Europe.

Anonymous, "Draft for a circus"

AnonymousDraft for a circus, elevation© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
These watercolours represent the elevation and section of a building typically used for equestrian circuses. Circus architecture experienced an unprecedented boom in France in the second half of the 19th century, along with more classic performance halls like theatres and operas.
The term ‘circus’ covers a variety of architectural forms, notably with buildings running more or less lengthwise, but the circular shape - inherited from Roman amphitheatres - became the norm when circuses gradually shifted from a temporary structure to a permanent building.
It was the architect Hittorff who gave them their definitive shape with the Cirque d'Eté opened in 1841 on the Champs-Elysées. The overarching principles were a circular plan, cast-iron columns that guaranteed optimum visibility, and antique references for the external architectural (columns, pediment, sculptures, etc.).

This draft plan was produced by a draughtsmen without equal, an expert in performance halls who worked under Napoleon III (the soldiers of the Imperial Guard are recognisable by their uniform).
The style and ideas of Davioud, architect of the City of Paris, who had studied the theatres of London, can be clearly seen: a stately box, a central arena for the performance, and a recess for the choir. Nevertheless, the orderly and rhythmic elevation of the glass panels is a tradition established by Hittorff.

Questions can be raised, however, as to the feasibility of the plan, and its purpose. The lack of horse-based iconography excludes an equestrian circus; the presence of a stage for the choir or orchestra would suggest an orphéon</span">, or choral society, an idea that Davioud had studied extensively.
AnonymousDraft for a circus, longitudinal section© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

In any case, these drawings were without doubt intended to be presented to the Emperor and Empress as part of an ambitious programme, perhaps the 1867 Universal Exposition. The surroundings depicted (a park, corner cupolas) indicate a location along the Champs-Elysées or Place de l'Alma, still very green areas at the time, with a distinctive Haussmannian-style architecture. But this project was never launched.

The acquisition of these two watercolours supplements the Musée d'Orsay collections of Parisian architecture and, more specifically, that of performance venues which already include exceptional drawings by Hittorff, those concerning the planning of the Champs-Elysées, and performance halls, like the Opéra-Comique by Crépinet and the Vaudeville theatre by Magne.

Emile-Auguste Reiber et Christofle, "Double fish vase"

Emile-Auguste Reiber et ChristofleDouble fish vase© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand-Palais / Patrice Schmidt
This Vase aux deux poissons [Double fish vase] is the result of the fruitful collaboration between Christofle & Cie and the decorator Émile Reiber. As Director of the manufacturing workshops, he had the idea of developing a highly original primarily Japanese-inspired collection in the 1870s.
At the 1867 Universal Exhibition, he presented Japanese-style pieces for Christofle like the gilded and enamelled coffee pot by Antoine Tard conserved by the Musée d’Orsay. The Musée d’Orsay collection also contains a ”Japanese clock” and two enamelled candelabras by Tard.

The composition of this extraordinary set draws on elements from the print collection at the Musée Cernuschi, motifs taken from “Mirror for the study of painting: plants and bird varieties” published between 1823 and 1868 by Koyabashi Shimbe in the Edo period.
The decorator also published the Reiber Albums as of 1877, thus playing an important role in the infatuation with Japanism in decorative arts. More specifically, he published pieces from the Musée Cernuschi, which he used for inspiration for the Christofle rabbit Teapot.

The double fish vase is also inspired by the collections of the Asian art museum of Paris and, more particularly, a bronze Japanese vase.
Adapted to contemporary tastes, its delicate polychromy, made from cloisonné enamel, creates a more naturalist aspect. Its remarkable composition renders the piece timeless, a striking example of modernity even today.

In 1874, Reiber presented several pieces composed for Christofle, including this vase, at an exhibition at the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs (now the MAD Paris). The preparatory drawing for these adaptations is conserved in the Christofle archives.
There is little doubt that only a limited number of copies of this model, with its incredible aesthetic, were produced.

Gift of the Société des Amis des musées d'Orsay et de l'Orangerie (SAMO), 2019

Sèvres Manufactory, Greek vase with discs

Sèvres ManufactoryGreek vase with discs© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Designed by Jules Diéterle (1811-1889), this vase is part of a set of Neo-Greek pieces, here an “Etruscan imitation”, produced by the Sèvres manufactory between 1848 and 1849 under the administration of Jacques-Joseph Ebelmen (1814-1852).
Perched on an elongated bell-shaped stem, this bulbous-shaped vase with its wide lip and four handles is a formal analogy of one of the two Apulian nestorides in the Denon collection.

Produced as of the second quarter of the 4th century, Apulian nestorides often have a pouch-like belly (as is the case here) and are frequently decorated with scenes depicting the ritual encounter of a man and a woman.
Diéterle’s talent was his ability to adapt the artisanal and rustic resonances of the original antique form to give it greater sophistication in order to truly enhance the lines and drawing, characteristic of productions by the Sèvres manufactory.
A cultivated interpretation and the latest style in fashion thus contributed to the creation of a series of these vases cast in Sèvres as of 1848.

The grey/blue background is decorated with two scenes from antiquity illustrating the centaur Nessus abducting Deianeira in a ‘pâte-sur-pâte’ — literally ‘paste on paste’ — décor in the style of a cameo.
The décor is not restricted to the limits imposed by a painting; the figures float in a space only limited by the shape of the vase. This very free design of the décor adds to the piece’s decorative power.
This theme of centaurs was particularly adapted to this vase sold to Amable Amédé, Count of Beaumont, President of the Riding Club of Pau, where he lived.

This Greek vase with discs echoes the monumental Hercules vase by Lameire, 1878, conserved at the Musée d’Orsay, which uses the same pâte-sur-pâte décor produced by Albert Dammouse, in the style of a cameo. The artist employs the same free composition to evoke a dream-like antiquity assimilable to the modernity of the Republic.

Gift of the Société des Amis des musées d'Orsay et de l'Orangerie (SAMO), 2019

Serrurier-Bovy, furniture set

Serrurier-BovySilex bedside table© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
This set is representative of the last decade of creation of Serrurier-Bovy and is taken from his home, Villa “L’Aube” in Cointe, not far from Liège, which he designed and fitted himself and where he lived as of the end of 1903.
The Liszt table and its four chairs form the prototype for this series, subsequently developed by the firm “Serrurier et Compagnie”, under Gustave Serrurier and René Dulong. Conceived and produced for the artist's property, the copies held by the Musée d'Orsay have a subtle design with elegant crafting of the wood and joints.

The Silex chair and bedside table, from the bedrooms on the upper floor of the Villa “L’Aube”, reflect the search for rationality and economy explored by Serrurier-Bovy.
Previously presented in the 1895 Chambre d’artisan [Craftsman's Bedroom], this dimension takes on an almost industrial aspect, notably demonstrated in the drawing of the chair.

Serrurier-BovyChair Silex© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand-Palais / Patrice Schmidt
The first version of this furniture was designed for the Château de la Cheyrelle in 1904. The series was then subsequently used and developed by “Serrurier et Compagnie”.

The simple yet subtle construction of the furniture, made from boards cut and assembled using plates and fastener, makes this furniture an icon of the origins of design.
The decorative aspect draws on the furniture’s lines, the gaps in the backrest and the slight curve of the base and cornice of the bedside table, and the touches of colour on the metal parts and the stencil motif.

Lastle, the Wagner bench is one of Serrurier-Bovy’s last creations prior to his sudden death in 1910. According to sources inside the family, it is the only piece of furniture created for the 1910 Brussels International Exhibition.
The bench that composes the main part of the furniture is supplemented by a bookcase and a mirror on the upper section. The structure of the piece of furniture is simple and clear, the wood carefully worked, and the assembly and hinges shown off by the decorative design.

Main acquisitions by the Musée d'Orsay in 2018

Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Richard Guino, "Venus Victrix"

Pierre Auguste Renoir et Richard GuinoVenus Victrix© ADAGP - Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Between 1913 and 1918, Renoir, now old and his hands deformed by arthritis, let himself be persuaded by his dealer, Ambroise Vollard, to "give some advice to a talented young sculptor who would produce something based on [his] paintings." Richard Guino was chosen, a 23 year old Catalan artist living in Paris
For obvious commercial reasons, Vollard subsequently sought to minimise Guino’s role. However, a judgment handed down in 1971 recognised Guino as co-creator of the works because, more than simply working as a technician, he regularly worked independently.

Nevertheless, for the first work in this collaboration, the small model of the Venus Victrix, it appears that Guino had worked under the watchful eye of the master, who might even have modified the head of the preparatory sketch himself.
The subject was taken from the painting of The Judgment of Paris, the second version of which Renoir had just finished (Hiroshima Museum of Art). The Renoir-Guino sculpture cannot however be regarded as a simple transposition: in the sculpted work, the goddess is already holding the apple given by Paris in one hand, and in the other, a flowing drapery that is absent from the painting.
Furthermore, the three dimensional transcription required changes from the small version. Renoir "made the belly and hips heavier, lifted the breasts and thus obtained a small solid stocky woman, all flesh, a small woman-animal with an exceptionally long body." (Paul Haesaerts).

For the large version, Renoir subsequently provided the sculptor with drawings indicating new changes, involving in particular the proportions, the facial expression and the movement of the drapery.
By making a large-scale version of the sculpture, Renoir was aware that his work would be compared to the large Venuses of Greco-Roman art. But although those models served as a benchmark for this iconic work of the classic "return to order" that characterised Renoir’s art at the end of his life, he did not adopt the anatomical perfection of the ancient figures.

He also took his inspiration from artists of his time: with her calm, traditional pose, and ample volumes, the Venus Victrix clearly echoes Maillol’s Pomona (1910) and Summer (1911).

Two vases by Emile Gallé

Emile GalléVase flacon© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Thanks to the donation by Mr Alain Pierre Bourgogne, Emile Gallé’s great grandson, two new vases produced by this artist from Lorraine have entered the Musée d'Orsay collections.
Each one shows the emblematic approach of the glasswork developed by Gallé.

The first, a Vase flacon decorated with bunches of grapes is very similar to a piece in the Suntory Museum in Tokyo. It also recalls Mysterious Grapes, another perfume bottle given to the Musée d'Orsay in 2000 by the artist’s descendants.
It is possible that Mysterious Grapes, created in 1892 for Count Robert de Montesquiou and based on one of his poems, gave Gallé the idea to produce other examples in this shape, which is relatively unusual in his work, and probably influenced by the traditional Chinese hardstone bottles.

Emile GalléRouleau vase with marine decoration© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Bringing these two pieces into our collections enables us to gain a better insight into one of the characteristics of Gallé’s creative approach: the use of subtle variations in different pieces provides a link between series productions and unique works.

The second vase has a marine decorative motif. Although this was not new in his work, Gallé developed this theme in particular in the last years of his life, at a time when the sea and its flora and fauna became a popular theme in the revival of the decorative arts.
For him, the sea was an inexhaustible source of artistic subjects and technical challenges enabling him to use his talents as a glassworker to brilliant effect.

The Musée d'Orsay collections contain only a few of Emile Gallé’s marine-inspired pieces, although they are important examples, like the vase The Sea and the Hand with Seaweed and Shells.
This acquisition, therefore, enables us to increase the representation in our collections of a central theme of his work after the Universal Exhibition of 1900.

Lars Trondson Kinsarvik, Cabinet

Lars KinsarvikCabinet© Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneer
Kinsarvik was one of the leading exponents in the revival of Norwegian decorative arts around 1900. A specialist in woodcarving, from the 1880s on he helped define a national Norwegian style called the “Dragon style” or “Viking style”.
This revived the local medieval art, the decorations of ancient churches and pre-Christian iconography. At the end of the 19th century, Norway tried to liberate itself from Swedish rule, and so the development of a national style also indicated a political commitment, and the Museum of Decorative Arts, founded in 1876, played an important role in the dissemination of this style.

Kinsarvik taught woodcarving at Hardanger and at the School of Applied Arts in Oslo, and was editor in chief of Gamall norsk prydkunst, a decorative arts magazine, which published lists of motifs from the Norwegian tradition.
His work was acclaimed internationally, particularly when he exhibited at the Universal Exhibitions in Paris in 1889 and 1900, where he represented Norway alongside several compatriots. Furthermore, he received the bronze medal at the 1900 exhibition.

The polychromy seen here, with its range of blues and greens enhanced with touches of orange, is characteristic of the artist’s work. The carved and painted décor appears on all the surfaces of the cabinet: we find dragons, friezes of mythological masks, characters from Norwegian legends and traditionally inspired geometric motifs...
The richness and quality of the decorative work here makes this cabinet a spectacular example of Norwegian Art Nouveau, which developed at the turn of the 20th century.

Paul Elie Ranson, Cigar box

Paul Elie RansonCigar box© Christie’s images Limited
The Public Establishment of the Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie used its pre-emptive rights to acquire a work by the artist Paul Elie Ranson on the 15 November 2018 at a public sale at Christie’s.

Paul Elie Ranson was doubtlessly the Nabis painter who took his exploration of decorative arts to the furthest limits. In 1901, he was one of the founding members of the Societé des artistes décorateurs; in the decorative arts world, he was notably appreciated for his contributions to textile art.
Indeed, his most renowned productions are the tapestries that his wife France produced from his cartoons. The Musée d’Orsay has two of these in its collections, Femmes en blanc [Women in White] and Printemps [Spring].
The acquisition of this box supplements this small collection dedicated to Ranson’s decorative works.

Rarer and less well-known outside of his intimate circle, a small number of objects and wood marquetry, like this cigar box, attest to the artist’s interest in diverse techniques.
The object was produced by Alfonse Hérold, cabinetmaker and member of the group “Art dans Tout” from 1898 to its dissolution in 1901, and brother of Ferdinand Hérold, a writer for whom Ranson created book cover templates.

Paul Elie RansonCigar box© Christie’s images Limited
The box’s decoration is primarily composed of a lid top panel featuring a true marquetry ‘painting’, similar to Ranson’s pictorial compositions.
Depicted is a nude woman, leaning against a tree trunk by a river. The immersion in a natural decor is notably conjured up by the lush vegetation: the tree trunks in the background and foliage in the lower section, are characteristic of the symbolist Nabis landscapes.
The composition recalls Ranson’s contemporary paintings, depicting a nude female figure on the edge of a forest alongside a river.

The marquetry technique used plays on textures like tree bark or the water’s surface, similar to the effects obtained by Ranson in his painting.
The box’s decoration, in both its composition and its style, is similar to paintings like the 1896 Trois baigneuses aux iris [Three Bathers among the Irises] (private collection). The imposing tree, the rippled surface of the water and the lush vegetation, a symbol of sensuality, all feature in the foreground.

Paul Elie RansonCigar box© Christie’s images Limited
The water’s surface seems to teem with aquatic vegetation, we can clearly see the water lilies on the preparatory drawing which appear on the box’s interior. This motif of the rippled surface of the water, enhanced by the wood’s rings that are clearly visible on the side panels, follows on from the narrative context of the main panel.
It could also be designed to evoke smoke, alluding to the object’s practical purpose.

A modest yet precious contribution by Ranson to a field with which he was largely unfamiliar, this wood marquetry box strikes a particular chord among the rare objects decorated by the Nabis and perhaps preluded the work of the decorators who were directly influenced by them, such as Maurice Biais and François Waldraff who worked for J. Meier-Grafe. It only has one known equal, the box entitled Femme au panier [Woman with Basket] (private collection), a work produced during the same period, which more closely resembles Ranson’s tapestries.

Léonard Abel Landry, Reclining armchair

Léonard Abel LandryReclining armchair © Azur Enchères-Studio Bazille
Representative of the founding of the Maison Moderne art gallery by Julius Meier-Graefe in 1899, a defining episode in the history of decorative arts, this piece of furniture clearly illustrates the complexity of French Art Nouveau, or more precisely Parisian Art Nouveau, between the openness to diverse European influences and the definition of a new national style.
Architect and decorator Abel Landry, although largely unknown today, was a leading figure of this artistic movement but up until now had not been represented in the Musée d’Orsay collections. This acquisition enriches the collections with a work that attests to his career and environment, as well as the qualities of his creations.

Landry worked for the Maison Moderne alongside artists such as Van de Velde, Follot and Dufrêne. His style in the 1900s was characterised by the use of energetic lines and often taut curves, while his approach to mouldings remained relatively sober, highlighting the general structure.

This armchair closely reflects the artist's identity, its energetic form giving it a spectacular dimension. Its curved frame is discreetly decorated with subtle mouldings.
A sculpted motif in the form of a ginkgo leaf, often depicted on Landry’s furniture, can be seen on the top of the backrest and where the armrests join the lower frame. The armchair was originally covered with engraved leather with a silk appliqué, a fabric often used on the decorator’s chairs but which has sadly disappeared from most.
A piece of Maurice Biais furniture, acquired by the museum in 2016, is very similar to that by Landry. The two were published on the same page in the Documents sur l’art industriel au XXe siècle catalogue of decorative art: both have a reclining structure, wide armrests and a headrest attached by a metal rod on the upper section.

Paul Gauguin, vase "Atahualpa"

Paul GauguinVase Atahualpa© Christie's / DR
On 2 October 2018, the Musée d’Orsay acquired one of Gauguin’s strangest, yet most emblematic, vases at a London auction.

Gauguin was devoted to various disciplines, including pottery. From 1886 onwards, he made stoneware ‘ceramic sculptures’, an uncommon, entirely new art.
This flower vase is known as Atahualpa. It was the critic Félix Fénéon who underlined the tragic dimension of this “Atahualpa dispossessed, his mouth torn into a chasm” during a Parisian gallery exhibition that displayed several of Gauguin’s works in the winter of 1887-1888.

By alluding to the last Inca Emperor, assassinated by Pizarro in 1532, the writer was doubtless referring to Gauguin’s South American origins and to the models who inspired him.
Indeed, the artist drew on diverse, often unpretentious, sources – ranging from Japanese and pre-Columbian Mexican vases to vernacular European ceramics – to produce unique, unsettling works.

The peculiarity of the vase, which represents a human bust, resides in a removed skullcap, replaced by a gaping hole. The space left behind is all the more troubling as a surprising smile contrasts with the brutality of this disappearance.
The attire, decorated with butterflies, sharpens this disparity and introduces a comical, even grotesque, aspect.

Paul GauguinVase Atahualpa© Christie's / DR
Gauguin again expresses his attraction to contrasts : the broad male face’s thick goatee and discreet, engraved tuft of hair are masculine traits, but the bust also features a dimple alongside a close-fitting tunic dotted with butterflies, both feminine, youthful characteristics. Lastly, a sexual connotation in the main aperture cannot be denied: it recalls female genitals, which we find in a work produced several years later, on the back of the famous Oviri.

The vase’s strangeness reaches its height on the reverse side: Gauguin created a hybrid being with enormous ears, masterly exploring metamorphosis and polysemy of shapes.

Unique in Gauguin’s oeuvre, this vase has become iconic. Unusual and radical, it delightfully supplements the already rich collection of seven ceramics at the Musée d’Orsay and provides a fascinating counterpoint to the work Anthropomorphic Pot, a self-portrait vase crafted a year earlier.

Johan Coenraad Altorf, Bench

Johan Coenraad Altorf Bench© DR - Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Johan Coenraad Altorf, the son of a carpenter, learned to work with wood from a very early age, and later enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague in 1897. He met Johan Thorn Prikker who introduced him to Symbolism and Belgian Art Nouveau, and in particular to the work of the artists of Les XX, a group to which J. Thorn Prikker belonged. Through Prikker he was also able to join the DutchArts & Crafts circle.
At the turn of the century, Altorf turned to the applied arts, focusing on furniture and architectural decoration. He was acclaimed when he presented his works at the International Exhibition in The Hague in 1901, and at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Arts in Turin in 1902.
Later, from 1910 on, he specialised in producing sculptures to adorn modern buildings in The Hague. Like many artists from this town, he combined knowledge of the Dutch tradition with Belgian and British influences.

This bench is a beautiful example of Altorf’s work. The simple, clearly defined if somewhat rigid structure of the bench is softened with inlays of ebony and ivory, which give the work a more refined aspect.
This contrast between a traditional rustic material and more precious materials is a typical feature of Dutch Art Nouveau, as is the rigorous structure of the piece, which is reminiscent of H. P. Berlage’s approach.

The animal inspiration is not only typical of the artist, but also of the Dutch Arts & Crafts: K. de Graaff for furniture, J. von Hoytema for illustration, J. Mendes Da Costa for sculpture.
It appears here both in the central relief, consisting of a bird motif framed by the rectangular form of the panel, and on the armrests, each decorated with an elongated and stylised snail coming out of its shell, and a rabbit head at the end.

Finally, at the top of the two lateral uprights we find a carved ebony monkey, which heralds Altorf’s career in producing architectural animal sculptures.
These decorative principles recall the mirror acquired by the Musée d’Orsay in 2014, which is part of the same collection.

Piet Mondrian, “Haystacks III”

Piet MondrianHaystacks III© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Most likely produced between 1908 and 1909, probably in Zelande, a rural and coastal province of the Netherlands, this work by Mondrian corresponds to a crucial period in the artist’s life, who at the time subscribed to theosophical theories.
In the first years of his career, Mondrian followed the stylistic development of late 19th - early 20th century painting. First Naturalist and Academic, he drew his inspiration from Dutch tradition and produced melancholic landscapes in blue and grey tones.
As of 1904, his painting began to change and made way for interior scenes using flat areas of colour. He gradually turned to Fauvism, then Divisionism, while harbouring a passion for Van Gogh’s Expressionism.

It was not what he painted that changed during this transition period, but rather the way he painted. Mondrian discovered his own style, leaving behind “natural colour” in favour of “pure colour”.
He questioned motif, which became a pretext for his experiments with composition and colour, a vessel to express the spirituality of forms.

Although Mondrian presumably studied motif during one of his visits to Zelande and observed the fluctuations in light, the intense palette and the emphasis placed on the lines reveal an artistic agenda that leans more towards Symbolism than Impressionism.
The painter produced several series between 1908 and 1912. Haystacks III and its two counterparts (Haystacks I, unknown location, and Haystacks II, Sidney Janis Familly) could be considered as his first cycle.

This crucial work in Mondrain’s career testifies to his gradual shift to abstraction. It emphasises the importance of international Symbolism and theosophical theories in the movement towards pictorial abstraction.

Edouard Manet, “The Europe Bridge”

Edouard ManetThe Europe Bridge© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Caillebotte, Monet and Manet created images that became icons of Impressionism, a symbol of urban modernity in Paris, the capital of the 19th century: the Europe Bridge.
This drawing by Manet is part of his preparation for The Railway (Washington, National Gallery of Art), a pivotal painting in his career, begun in 1872 and exhibited at the 1874 Salon, his first major composition after the fall of the Empire and the Commune.

As of the early 1870s, the artist lived and worked in the vibrant Europe district of Paris.
He never tired of strolling through the busy streets and this territory transformed by Haussmann’s urban renovation, which he used as inspiration. He most likely produced this sketch in the garden behind 58 rue de Rome, the site of his friend Alphonse Hirsch’s studio.
In the background we can see the outlines of the façades on rue de Saint-Pétersbourg leading almost all the way to the artist’s studio at 4 rue de Saint-Pétersbourg, which he occupied as of 1872.

During the 1870s, Manet spent more time drawing outside, using a sketchbook kept in his pocket to quickly capture snapshot moments.
A few accents and pictograms are all that are required to characterise the décor and the actors of urban life.
The Railway combines a remarkably light stenographic drawing with a solid composition that makes daring use of empty spaces. “The eye, a hand....” as Mallarmé said, citing Manet and paying tribute to him in Divagations (1897): the limpid gaze of the artist sketching on the spot, the rapid movements of the hand that creates a composition, a rhythm, an atmosphere out of nothing.
The unfinished element reflects the fleeting and transitory nature, making Manet the illustrator of modern life, just as Baudelaire dreamed.

Paul Sérusier, “Tetrahedrons”

Paul SérusierTetrahedrons© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand-Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Littered with objects floating in space with no points of reference, the painting Tetrahedrons by Paul Sérusier is part of a series of mysterious paintings that bring Symbolism into the realms of Abstraction.
Something mystic is at work in this piece, which reflects the interest of the “Nabi with a shining beard” in the esotericism of colours and shapes. However, geometry remains above all a tool to render aesthetic needs in Sérusier’s work, in line with his philosophical continuity rather than based on a formal model.

This painting was produced around 1910, when Sérusier was teaching at the Académie Ranson (1908 to 1912). Indeed, his teachings, published in 1921 under the title The ABCs of painting, include a section on numbers and proportions that illustrates the inherent concept of Tetrahedrons which was to reformulate the close connections betweens human beings and the cosmos through Symbolist figuration.

Tetrahedrons, Golden Cylinder (Musée des Beaux-arts de Rennes) and Origins (private collection) form a unique set in Sérusier’s body of work.
During a rare public appearance in 1947 for the Palais Galliera retrospective, these three works were displayed as a triptych on the theme of the origins of life and the universe. Yet Tetrahedrons remains the most abstract of the three.
Unlike Golden Cylinder or Origins which preserve a sense of space in which a horizon can still be seen, the depth in Tetrahedrons is barely pronounced by an atmospheric perspective.

This painting emphasises Sérusier’s constant pictorial experiments in the use of abstract forms, long after Gauguin’s lessons at the Bois d’Amour and the Talisman of 1888.
It embodies a crucial yet little-known milestone in pictorial experimentation as it shifted to the abstract representation of shapes, thus providing a different interpretation of the history of art in the early 20th century.

Jean-François Millet, “La Méridienne” [or Noonday Rest]

Jean-François Millet La Méridienne© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
This study, acquired thanks to the generosity of the Société des Amis des musées d'Orsay et de l'Orangerie (SAMO), is linked to the composition La Méridienne [or Noonday Rest], the final version of which has been lost and which depicts two peasants sleeping in the shadow of a haystack.
They are part of the cycle Four Times of the Day: Scenes of Rural Life, including Morning. Leaving for the Fields, Midday. The Siesta, Evening. The End of the Day and Night, drawings engraved by Jacques-Adrien Lavieille and published in 1860 then in L'Illustration in 1873.
Among the variations on this composition, the most well known is the 1866 pastel Noonday Rest (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts). his image has become iconic thanks to the famous painting by Van Gogh, The Siesta (1889-1890, Musée d'Orsay), which uses “another language, that of colours, to translate the impressions of light and dark into black and white”.

In the study for Midday, the emphasise is place on the sleeping man, rather than the woman, who is merely outlined and of whom the Musée d'Orsay already has a finished study.
Not only are representation of sleeping men much rarer than “sleeping beauties”, but this contemporary sleeper, a labourer, moves away from the tradition of sleeping figures placed in a narrative context that make reference to mythology (The Sleep of Endymion, Psyche and the Sleeping Cupid), the Bible (Jacob’s Dream, Ruth and Boaz), literature (Ossian’s Dream) and allegory (Genius of Eternal Sleep).

Millet used an expressive and synthetic line to realistically draw the sagging of the body, emphasised by the folds of the clothes; the legs splayed and feet turned outwards.

The sleeping peasant is not gracious, his surrender to sleep is not a pretext to observe his beauty unbeknown to him. br />Millet succeeded in creating an image of a simple man lulled by the comfort of sleep, lying on the ground that he labours for a living and which revitalises him.

Frances Benjamin Johnston, collection of photographs

Frances Benjamin Johnston© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Thanks to the generosity of its American Friends (AFMO), the Musée d'Orsay has made a major acquisition in the field of feminine photography, a key focus of its policy of enriching its collections:
a set of works by the American Frances Benjamin Johnston, a figure undervalued in the history of photography despite being internationally recognised during her lifetime as a model professional practitioner.
The first female photojournalist at the end of the 19th century, a portraitist of the political spheres of the federal capital, Johnston also made a name for herself in the field of documentaries and architectural photography and as an advocate of female photographers.

The set of photographs that is now conserved at the museum comes almost entirely from the last residence of this exceptional figure. It includes works inspired by Pictorialism (1890s) as well as the “last photo ever taken of President McKinley”.
Two significant subsets are also associated with Johnston’s activities in terms of education: the 1899 photoreport on public schools in Washington (presented at the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris, it won the photographer a gold medal as well a promotion to the Order of Academic Palms on the one hand, and on the other the photoreport on the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama (1902 and 1906) as part of her work in establishments for Afro-Americans.
Two other groups of prints illustrate Johnston’s later specialisation in architecture: a photoreport on the headquarters Pan American Union in Washington (1908-1910); and numerous interior photos, primarily taken in high society residences in New York and the capital (circa 1909-1915).

This set is one of the most representative of Johnston’s long career, the only one of its kind to now be conserved in a non-American institution.
Its entry into the national collections is even more significant given the different facets of the photographer’s relationship to France: her training as a painter at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1883-1885; her numerous subsequent stays and her close connections with numerous French figures in the world of photography; the official recognition obtained at the 1900 Universal Exhibition; and her concurrent role as an ambassador for female American photographers in raising awareness in France of the accomplishments of feminine photography.

Ferdinand Hodler, Portrait of young Werner Miller (1899) and Portrait of Mathias Morhardt (1913)

Ferdinand HodlerPortrait of young Werner Miller© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
To mark the centenary of the death of the great Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler, the Musée d’Orsay has acquired two of his works: the portrait of young Werner Miller (1899) and that of Mathias Morhardt (1913), writer, poet, playwright and journalist.

The only French museum to conserve works by Hodler, Orsay already housed 3 of his paintings in its collections (The Woodcutter, Andey Peak and Madame Valentine Godé-Darel ill). But none of these evoked one of the major aspects of his work: the combination of a “realistic” portrait and the Symbolist composition found in the image of this boy sat on the grass.

Ferdinand HodlerPortrait of Mathias Morhardt © Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Other than its aesthetic qualities, the “Portrait of Mathias Morhardt” gives us an opportunity to touch on the intellectuals, the go-betweens of cultures, who contributed to the extraordinary vitality of European art in the late 19th century.

Thanks to these two acquisitions, the Musée d’Orsay is confirming its desire to enhance the presence of foreign avant-garde artists in its collections in order to improve our understanding of the 19th century.


Albert Dubois-Pillet, “Field and Factory” or “The Forges of Ivry”

Albert Dubois-PilletField and Factory© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
With the acquisition of this painting, an artwork whose localisation was unknown has now been identified. It is the Forges of Ivry represented in an astonishing framing where the industrial site is set against a field of crops.
The composition presents a summarised view of the transformations that were taking place in the Parisian suburbs at that time as a result of industrialisation. Here, the artist contrasts the warm shades of the crops with the cold blue tones of the factory buildings, with their smoking chimneys polluting the sky.

The landscape is constructed with a skilful assembly of similar or contrasting colours, and through opposing complementary shades. The elongated perspective with the winding shadow in the foreground accentuates the drama of the subject while giving a poetic character to this wide expanse devoid of any human or animal presence.

An army officer and self-taught painter, friend of Seurat, Signac, Luce and Pissarro (father and son), Dubois-Pillet was one of the founder members of the Salon of Independent Artists. He successfully absorbed the teachings of Seurat by adopting the optical contrast and pointillist technique of his revered master.
As his paintings rarely come up for sale, this acquisition has brought to light a work that has not been exhibited since 1888.

Eugène Grasset, Drawing for a Monumental Door

Eugène GrassetMonumental door© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
In 1890, Winnaretta Singer commissioned a monumental door from the sculptor Jean Carriès for the studio in her private residence on the rue Cortambert in Paris. The princess, an amateur artist, held famous soirées there.
Its design was exacting as it was technically hugely ambitious (glazed earthenware) and with complex iconography. Carriès died before finishing it. The elements are conserved in the musée du Petit-Palais along with a maquette, and the Musée d’Orsay has in its collections a frame containing thirteen photographs of the door being made, two of which include the artist.

It was as a friend and neighbour that Eugène Grasset was contacted by Carriès to produce the drawing of his project. It was remarkable for its spatial precision, achieved through an interplay of perspectives of pillars and surfaces, and its lavish iconography.
AnonymousJean Carriès working on the monumental door© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
It included a sort of medieval bestiary mixed in with female heads; in the centre is a statuette that might represent Winnaretta Singer and her passion for Wagner.

On the other hand, although quite different from the work that Carriès produced, this design, several preparatory sketches of which exist on tracing paper, fits perfectly into Grasset’s unusual decorative style (frontispiece “Ville imaginaire” [Imaginary City]: furniture for Charles Gillot). All three protagonists in fact shared a taste for the unusual.

Main acquisitions by the Musée d'Orsay in 2017

Camille Claudel: exceptional acquisitions

The Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie public establishment has exercised its right of first refusal to acquire two items at the sale "Camille Claudel: a treasure in heritage" that took place on Monday, 27 November, 2017, at Artcurial: Study II for Shâkountalâ (circa 1886) and Old woman's head, study for Maturity (circa 1890).

These exceptional acquisitions of works coming directly from the heirs of Camille Claudel's sister, Louise de Massary, allow the Musée d'Orsay, which has so far kept only two works by the artist (Maturity and Clotho's Torso), to enrich the presence of the artist. in the sculpture collections, notably thanks to the remarkable terracotta sketch for Shâkountalâ, one of her major works.

Camille ClaudelStudy II for "Shâkountalâ"© Artcurial / DR
Study II for Shâkountalâ (circa 1886)
Terracotta sketch
H. 21.50; W. 18.50; D. 11 cm

The work is inspired by a drama by the Hindu poet Kâlidâsa, translated into French in 1830 and adapted in ballet by Ernest Reyer on an argument of Théophile Gautier in 1858: following a curse, Prince Dushyuanta forgets his marriage with Shâkountalâ.
The embrace between the two characters illustrates the happy ending of the story, when Shâkountalâ and her husband meet at the Nirvanha.

First work of Claudel adopting a literary subject, Shâkountalâ was conceived during her years of passionate love with Rodin and includes important formal correspondences with the famous Kiss.
The particularly powerful modeling of this sketch, one of the few that remains, testifies, as closely as possible, to the technique of the artist.

Camille ClaudelOld woman's head, study for "Maturity"© Artcurial / DR
Old woman's head, study for Maturity (circa 1890)
H. 11; W. 9; D. 11 cm

This studio plaster is a study for the old woman of Maturity, of which the Musée d'Orsay owns the first bronze copy. The model is an old Italian, Marie Caira, who also posed for Jules Desbois and Auguste Rodin.

The acquisition of this work makes it possible to complete the collections of the Musée d'Orsay with a preparatory study that precedes both Clotho's Torso and Maturity, made from the same face. It belongs to the genesis of an emblematic work by Camille Claudel, in which the pain of breaking up with Rodin is expressed.
This woman with an emaciated face has often been interpreted as an allegory of Rodin's companion, as he was drifting away from the Imploring Woman.

During the sale held on 27 November 2017, twelve lots in total (eleven sculptures and a pastel) were acquired by six French museums. Public collections of Camille Claudel’s works have been immeasurably enriched with this latest ensemble, which will be gathered together at the Musée d'Orsay from 9 January to 11 February 2018, and put on display for the public in the Françoise Cachin Gallery, on level 2.

A set of color photographs by the Lumière brothers

Louis Lumière, Auguste Lumière and other members of the Lumière familyHenri Lumière© Musée d'Orsay, dist RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Louis Lumière, Auguste Lumière and other members of the Lumière family
69 autochromes (glass plates), between 1905 and 1935 (scenes of family life, individual and group portraits, tableaux vivants and landscapes)

Louis and Auguste Lumière, or workers at the Lumière factories
6 trichromatisms (glass plates), 1895-1898 (Composition depicting toys and painting reproductions)

The Musée d'Orsay is bringing together an exceptional set of works on the theme of the inventions of the Lumière brothers in the field of colour photography. It includes rare examples of their first trichromatism process on glass (patented in 1895), an unusual large format (18x13 cm), as well as a large number of experimental works.

This type of slide, with its high-quality rendering, was too complex to produce to allow for market development. Research led to the creation of the autochrome (patented in 1903), the first colour process distributed on an industrial scale and marketed in 1907.

Out of the 69 autochromes acquired, some plates are the result of artisanal production before the invention was made available to wealthy amateurs. This corpus gives us an insight into the private universe of the inventors of the cinematograph (1895). Images of staged family life, portraits, tableaux vivants and landscapes all attest to the influence of diverse pictorial models, at a time when the process was primarily seen as a long-awaited means to devoting oneself to a form of ‘machine’ Impressionism.

The perceptible aesthetic ambitions and achievements are magnified by the recurring choice of the large format, often going beyond the tradition of family photographs. It is these qualities that make this selection one of the most remarkable and vast ensembles known on the colour practices of the Lumière brothers.


Many of the works have never before been displayed, and remained in the hands of Henri’s heirs (1897-1971), the son of August Lumière, up until early 2017. Until now no autochromes resulting from this family production had been conserved in the national collections.

This acquisition is accompanied by a generous donation of 6 monochrome portraits of the Lumière Brothers and their father Antoine Lumière

Charles Nègre, "Young Chimney Sweep"

Charles NègreYoung Chimney Sweep© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Alexis Brandt
In the early 1850s, the painter Charles Nègre made a remarkable entrance into the growing world of Parisian photography, hailed by critics as the inventor of “genre photography” for his images of the ordinary people of Paris.

His series on chimney sweeps is one example of these topics that fuelled his painting and that inspired many of his contemporaries as an extension of prints since the 18th century and, beyond that, a Spanish and Nordic pictorial tradition dating back to the 17th century.

Although Murillo and Rembrandt naturally come to mind when one talks about photographed chimney sweeps, Nègre nonetheless surpasses the problems of genre and the picturesque.

Through the use of the optical system employed for his small, circular prints, the photographer sought to create “snapshots” before the invention of instant photography. This pioneering approach led to an equally pioneering project - that of representing the movement of walking through this new medium.

The reality of exposure times and the choice to prioritise sharpness, however, obliged him to turn to illusion: the three Chimney Sweeps Walking posed in the small version (société française de photographie), and thus in the larger version as well (musée Carnavalet).

The series also includes a shot of the group at rest (negative at the Musée d'Orsay), so that only the youngest worker had the honour of an individual portrait.


The picturesque aspect of the scene has been left out of the frame in order to emphasise the expressiveness of the silhouette, accentuated by the powerful contrasts of shadows, the geometric forms and the pared down decor which echo contemporary paintings by Daumier, a neighbour of Nègre on the Ile Saint-Louis.

Through the acquisition of the only known print of Young Chimney Sweep, an important milestone in the history of photography which has been pieced together in the various French collections.

James Tissot, Jardinière "Cave and body of water"

James TissotJardinière "Cave and body of water"© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Tissot left behind a large number of major and celebrated paintings including The Circle of the Rue Royale and the Portrait of the Marquis and Marchioness of Miramon and their children, conserved at Orsay. Although the artist is best known for his talents as a painter, which earned him a special place in the Franco-English context of his era, he was also at the forefront of decorative arts.

Having learnt to master the difficult enamel technique, he most likely sought the assistance of craftsmen to produce this jardinière (flower box). He seems to have been influenced by or drawn on the skills of founders such as Christofle and Barbedienne, unless he allowed himself to be guided by practicians working for Elkington, a firm that also produced Japanese bronzes made from enamel using the cloisonné technique, like those by Christofle.

What is certain is that the quality of the anonymous gilded bronze castings indicates the expertise of a very high-level professional.

In this specimen, the remarkable decors - view of a cave by the sea and a body of water in a garden - are depicted on both sides in two precisely outlined views through a window flanked by architectural consoles. On both sides, the curved ends that support the handles are designed to imitate a brick wall covered in plants.

The marine cave, evoking the romantic image of the wild yet hospitable nature, contrasts with the pond reflecting a colonnade depicted on the opposite side of the jardinière, a sophisticated vision in reference to the Parc Monceau in Paris and Tissot’s property in England. Like yin and yang, this contrast is a nod to Chinese culture, a great source of inspiration for the artist in the design of this spectacular object.

Gustave Moreau, "The Good Samaritan"

Gustave MoreauThe Good Samaritan© DR
Gustave Moreau painted the parable of the Good Samaritan - taken from the Gospel of St Luke - on several occasions throughout his career, focusing on different moments of the tale and a variety of compositions. This small oil panel was produced around 1865, a period during which the artist primarily drew his inspiration from mythological subjects, as can be seen by his submissions to the Salon.

This painting, with its precious workmanship and colouring, attaches equal importance to the characters portrayed with the eloquent strokes characteristic of the artist, and to the surrounding scenery.

The latter is composed of a tree with a gnarled trunk, rocks with cavities that bear a resemblance to those of Leonardo de Vinci, and a vast plain with a low horizon line that creates a feeling of distance despite the work’s small format. The detail of the donkey staring at a wake of vultures perched on the rocks to the right of the composition adds a picturesque note to the painting.


Gustave Moreau’s small format oils on wood were particularly valued by amateurs as of the 1860s, including Paul Tesse who was the first owner of the work, and Charles Hayem. The Musée d'Orsay notably houses a Calvary taken from the latter’s collection, the date and format of which are similar to those of the Good Samaritan.

Alexandre Cabanel, "Paradise Lost"

Alexandre CabanelParadise Lost© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
This work is the sole example of one of the rare 19th century decors produced by a French painter in Germany. In 1863, Maximilian II, King of Bavaria, commissioned Alexandre Cabanel to decorate the Maximilianeum palatial building in Munich with the biblical story of the original sin.

Emblematic of the enlightened policy of the Kingdom of Bavaria, this decor (lost during a bombing in 1945) is a unique production in the entirety of the career of Alexandre Cabanel, one of the greatest Academic painters of the second half of the 19th century, through both its composition and its dimensions.


The artist had previously represented the biblical tale as his dernier envoi - the final work he sent back to Paris from Rome as proof of his artistic accomplishments at the end of his 5-year stay - The Death of Moses (Dahesh Museum of Art, New York), in which the influence of the Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s The Vision of Ezekiel (Palazzo Pitti, Florence) can clearly be seen. Paradise Lost adopts the same references: Raphaël for the figure of God and Michelangelo (the tomb of Giuliano de' Medici in particular) for the figure of Adam.

By marking the nudity of Eve as the central feature, Cabanel creates a renewed vision of this biblical subject, reflecting the evolution of modern tendencies.

This acquisition is all the more important given that it is the first painting relating to the artist’s decorative activity conserved at the Musée d'Orsay (which has six other works by Alexandre Cabanel in its collections).

Jules Auguste Habert-Dys, jewellery box

Jules Auguste Habert-DysJewellery box© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
This luxurious jewellery box demonstrates Habert-Dys’ interest in illustration and the ‘arts of fire’, but also his master of gold and silver work, applied by his son-in-law Fernand Poisson.

Indeed, the motifs on the enamel plates are very similar to those published in his Caprices décoratifs, while the decorative splendour of the silver work heralds his spectacular creations like the famous vase Ronde de trois cigales depicting three grasshoppers (1905).


The Japanese influence can be clearly seen in the shape and function of the object, as well as in the decorative elements. The use of Macassar ebony is an ornament in itself; this choice allows the natural beauty of the material to radiate in true Japanese style as understood by the protagonists of Art Nouveau.

This is supplemented by the rich decor of the enamel plates in delicate colours with more intense bursts (the heart of the chrysanthemums and the leaf edges). The silver frame is also composed of plant-inspired decorations, in an abundant and structured style that follows the contours of the box.


The interior design is equally meticulous, with silver elements echoing the base of the enamel plates on the back and sides, decorated with the characteristic arabesques of the 1900s.


Mackay Hugh Baillie-Scott, Music Chest

Mackay Hugh Baillie-ScottMusic Chest© DR
The English architect Baillie Scott, an advocate of Arts and Crafts, was called upon to work for the Grand Duke Ludwig de Hesse in the artists' colony founded by the latter in Darmstadt in 1899. Baillie Scott’s works thus provide one of the fundamental and sustainable links between the English Arts and Crafts movement and the Germanic secession movements.

In 1905, Hans Bacmeister, director at the Dresden Opera house, commissioned a set of furniture from him, including this music cabinet as well as the two armchairs that were incorporated into the Musée d’Orsay collections in 2005.
This exceptional furniture set is one of the rare examples of the luxurious pieces designed by M-H. Baillie Scott, many of which disappeared during the War.

The music cabinet is representative of the exchanges established between the major Art Nouveau centres. Black furniture was favoured by creators of Arts and Crafts, as well as among artists with a penchant for rectilinear geometric shapes, emphasising the orthogonal architecture of the furniture as seen in works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Scotland and Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser in Vienna.
Here, the simplicity of the shape is the result of both a taste for orthogonality, a certain conception of ‘functionalism’ dictating a simple and clear structure, and its English heritage (the four exposed hinges on the cabinet doors).

The decorative dimension of the ring handles and the inlaid decor in the upper section are reminiscent of the graphic explorations of architects from Munich and those of Josef Maria Olbric who also stayed in Darmstadt.
The interior decoration on the inlaid doors, for its part, echoes the Venetian style with its geometric design and the use of precious materials.

Anders Zorn, "Figure for a fountain, II"

Anders ZornFigure for a fountain, II (Fontänefigure, II)© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Painter, renowned engraver and sculptor, Anders Zorn was one of the most well-known Swedish artists of the second half of the 19th century, a central figure of a modern and virtuoso international style that emerged at the turn of the century.
Sculpture was always a subject of fascination for the artist, and it was in this discipline that he enrolled in the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in 1875 in addition to his work on watercolour and painting. After moving to Paris between 1888 and 1896, he triumphed as a portrait painter, but kept his hand in with sculpture thanks to his friendship with Rodin.

Zorn’s sculptures are fully in keeping with an international naturalism, which he also applied to his work in the material of Swedish popular art, wood. Zorn explored all aspects of sculpture in his era, through portraits, decorative statuettes and public monuments, which sometimes exhibited French influences (Injalbert, Rodin) following his stay in Paris.

The Musée d’Orsay houses three paintings by Zorn: Fisherman at Saint Ives, acquired by the State in 1889, on loan to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Pau, Nude Woman Arranging Her Hair acquired for the Musées Nationaux in 1906, and the Portrait of Alfred Beurdeley, lgift of Marcel Beurdeley in 1979, but no sculptures.
The rare sculptures by Zorn up for public auction are in small format and are generally anecdotal. Fontänefigur, II (Figure for a fountain, II), a monumental female figure in true naturalism style, is the second version of two fountain motifs produced by Zorn between 1909 and 1911.

The acquisition of this large bronze represented a unique occasion to supplement the Nordic art collection in general, and the collection of European sculptures from the 1910s in particular.

Léon Augustin Lhermitte, "Around Les Halles"

Léon Augustin LhermitteAround Les Halles© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
The corpus of drawings and pastels produced by Léon Augustin Lhermitte, a prolific artist who practised drawing throughout his life, is estimated at over two thousand works. Educated at the Ecole Impériale de Dessin and in particular under Lecoq de Boisbaudran, who had developed an original teaching method based on memory, Lhermitte learnt to draw without a model, thus allowing him to compose at his own pace from the comfort of his studio, producing skilful large format pictures that acquired their own independence from his paintings.

Although he drew with charcoal, in classic style, as a means of preparing his oil paintings, he placed his large charcoals on sale: these magnificent drawings were popular with private amateur, such as Charles Hayem, an important collector of watercolours by Gustave Moreau and a donor to the Louvre. It is from his collection that Around Les Halles is taken. Charcoal “is Lhermitte’s preferred technique, with which he established his reputation”.

Around Les Halles is dated 1881, that is to say one year before the dazzling success of Paying the Harvesters, the painting that officialised Lhermitte’s fame. This drawing demonstrates the urban inspiration of an artist more commonly associated with the rural life he most often represented.
Although Lhermitte drew other market scenes, they were of provincial markets, which is what makes this drawing a rare iconography for the artist in his portrayal of the modern architecture that had become emblematic of Paris.

Thanks to the bold framing, Lhermitte guides the viewer to the heart of a street scene on the edges of the Belly of Paris immortalised by Zola in 1873. The approach to the iconography of Les Halles is original in that it is not the opulence of the market products that is depicted in the scene, but rather a flea market or bric-à-brac sale of art objects and paintings.
The main road is much less crowded and animated than in the painting Les Halles (Paris, Petit Palais) where fruit and vegetable sellers jostle one another in a lively atmosphere. Gone is the “picturesque clutter” of the painted version, replaced by a clear organisation shown through several outlines that converge at the vanishing point in the exact centre of the paper.

Amedeo Modigliani, "Portrait of Paul Guillaume, mid-thigh"

Amedeo ModiglianiPortrait of Paul Guillaume, mid-thigh© DR
Between 1915 and 1916, Modigliani produced four portraits of his patron. The first of these, conserved at the Musée de l'Orangerie, proclaims the special relationship between the art dealer and the artist in early 1915. Paul Guillaume, then aged just 23, posed for the painting in the apartment of Modigliani’s mistress, Beatrice Hastings.

Modigliani inscribed the art dealer’s name, as well as the humorous manifesto: Paul Guillaume, "Novo Pilota", new helmsman, in capital letters as common in advertisements and the canvases of his futuristic compatriots. Like a racing car driver or a aviation pioneer, he was depicted as taking over the helm of modern painting.
On a more personal note, Modigliani assigned the art dealer the role of artistic guide in his life: in the midst of war, at a time of great destitution, Paul Guillaume played the part of material and moral support.

Other than his painted portraits, Modigliani also produced several drawings of his art dealer and patron including the one acquired during the sale at the Ader auction house, directly related to the painted portrait.

The Portrait of Paul Guillaume, mid-thigh, with its clear lines, depicts the nonchalance of the model portrayed as an elegant young man, one hand on his collar. Although differing in its composition from the canvas conserved at the Orangerie, the inscription “NOVO PILOTA” in capital letters in the bottom left, topped by a cross in exactly the same place, establishes the link between the two. Although the drawing is not dated, these specific elements lead us to believe that the drawing was produced around the same time as the painting.

The acquisition of this work from the Paul Guillaume collection is a rare opportunity for the Musée de l’Orangerie as it has remained in the family of Domenica Walter, but also due to its close ties to the painted portrait already conserved at the Orangerie.

The Donation Hays

Edouard VuillardYoung Girls Walking© Photographie John Schweikert
In October 2016, Marlene and Spencer Hays confirmed the donation to the Musée d’Orsay, with reserve of usufruct, of their collection, some 600 pieces from the second half of the nineteenth century.
Exceptional by its size as well as by its consistency, this is the most important donation received by a French museum from abroad since 1945.

This donation will become effective in stages, the first comprised of 187 pieces of art, including 69 by Nabi artists. This first ensemble corresponds to the paintings presented during Spring 2013 in the Musée d’Orsay as part of the exhibition "A Passion for France. The Marlene and Spencer Hays Collection".


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