Musée d'Orsay: New Acquisitions

New Acquisitions

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.

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.

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.

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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