Musée d'Orsay: Restoration of Schenck's Two Mothers

Restoration of Schenck's Two Mothers

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

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

"Two Mothers" (1888) by Maxime Faivre

Maxime FaivreTwo Mothers© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
The second half of the 19th century took a great interest in the origins of France, its proto-history and prehistory, which it sought to identify by using recent advances in a still imprecise science.
Many artists would attempt to explore – and interpret – these far off epochs, for example the sculptor Frémiet, and painters Cormon, Paul Jamin and Maxime Faivre.

In Faivre's work, the theme of confrontation was recurrent, as in The Invader (Vienna, Museum of Fine-Arts and Archaeology), where a man clad in animal skins tries to fight his way into a cave.

The dramatic tension in Two Mothers is in the confrontation of two maternal instincts: that of the woman and that of the animal.
The fierce Medea-like cavewoman will, this time, defend her offspring against the intrusion of a female bear that can be made out in the background.
The group of children also recalls the allegories of Charity found in classical painting.

This exaltation of maternal feelings, present since time immemorial, would certainly be encouraged by the Third Republic, which had put the family at the forefront of its institutions.

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

Glass enclosure built with the generous support of: