Custom private tours of France

Monet the Collector

From September 14, 2017 to January 14, 2018
Marmottan-Monet museum

The Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris is showing 77 paintings, watercolors and sculptures owned by the artist in an exhibition titled “Monet Collectionneur” (“Monet the Collector,” ending Jan. 14).

Many come from the museum itself, which owns the world’s largest number of Monets, as well as countless other artworks that once belonged to the artist and that were donated by his second son, Michel. Other lenders include New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art; the National Gallery of Art in Washington; and museums in Brazil, Japan and Germany.

Monet’s motivations in acquiring art were very different from those of the average buyer. “There’s a big difference between an artist collecting and a rich person collecting,” said Ann Dumas, a curator at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. “It was rare for artists to buy as an investment. Their overwhelming concern was admiring what another artist had done. They often really loved other artists’ work and using it as an example and an inspiration. It was much more personal and tied to their own creative process.” Ms. Dumas said that the other great artist-collector of the period was Edgar Degas (she curated exhibitions of his collections at London’s National Gallery and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1996 and 1997-98). When these were posthumously auctioned at sales in Paris in 1918, the National Gallery in London made numerous purchases that now form the core of its 19th-century collection.

Many works formerly owned by Degas were displayed in a 2016 exhibition titled “Painters’ Paintings,” which also featured artworks owned by Anthony van Dyck, Matisse and Lucian Freud. “Looking at an artist’s collection can be compared to entering a mind, and accessing a usually overlooked dimension of his or her activities, yet it is one of the most essential, as it offers clues for a correct, deep and multifaceted understanding of their art,” Anne Robbins, a curator at the National Gallery, wrote in the exhibition catalog. “Painters’ paintings represent the very continuation of their artistic production.”

For the Marmottan, putting on an exhibition about Monet the collector proved difficult. “Monet didn’t speak about his private life. His art collection, like his family life, was kept deeply private,” said Marianne Mathieu, the show’s curator, who in 2014-15 curated a groundbreaking Marmottan show on “Impression: Sunrise,” the 1872 Monet painting that engendered the term ‘Impressionism.’ Ms. Mathieu said that at Giverny, the collection hung in the private apartments upstairs, and was “rarely shown.” Nor did Monet keep records of his art collection, unlike Degas.

As a result, curating the exhibition was “like a police investigation,” she said. Complicating matters further, the inventory of Monet’s belongings at Giverny, which was drawn up at his death in 1926, was destroyed during World War II.

The Marmottan team has nonetheless managed to document 120 works as having unequivocally belonged to Monet. The earliest portrait in the show is a caricature of the young Monet by his friend Charles Lhuillier, produced in the late 1850s when the 20-year-old artist had just left the northwestern port of Le Havre for Paris. Monet kept this and other portraits of his youth.

As Monet settled into his new life in Paris, he befriended Manet and Renoir. They produced numerous portraits of Monet and his wife Camille, an artist’s model. Some were produced at Monet’s new house in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil, where he organized picnics and outdoor gatherings in the garden or along the banks of the nearby Seine. On one occasion, for example, Manet convinced Monet and Camille to pose together (something they had not done before) in Monet’s bateau-atelier, or studio boat. “The Painter Monet in his Studio” (1874), which Monet also kept his whole life, is on loan to the Marmottan exhibition from the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany.

Renoir painted individual portraits of the Monets and gave them the more artistically original ones, Ms. Mathieu said. One example is “Madame Monet and Her Son” (1874), on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, which shows Camille seated on the grass as her young son lies beside her and a rooster looks on. Once Monet could afford to buy art, he focused initially on works by his immediate forerunners: Delacroix (“Cliffs near Dieppe,” 1852-1855, a watercolor) and Corot (“Ariccia, Palazzo Chigi,” 1826-27, a view of a hilltop Italian town).

He bought at auctions or from art dealers, discreetly. At the posthumous 1891 sale of works by Johan Barthold Jongkind, for instance, he had a friend buy on his behalf. He made exceptions at public auctions where his notoriety could help the sale, such as when Alfred Sisley’s collections were auctioned after his death to benefit his struggling children, or when Cézanne’s “Neige fondante à Fontainebleau” (1879-80, now at MoMA), came up for auction. Monet paid 6,750 francs for it, a record for a Cézanne at the time.

By 1890, Monet was rich and famous, and he concentrated his purchases on two artists: Renoir and Cézanne — no doubt, according to Ms. Mathieu, because their art complemented his. He acquired masterpieces by each, such as Renoir’s “The Mosque (Arab Festival)” (1881), showing crowds spilling out of a North African mosque; and Cézanne’s male “Bathers” (1890-92, now at the St. Louis Art Museum).

“The collection resembles Monet himself: It’s the eye of Monet, it’s his selection,” said Ms. Mathieu, adding that while he was admiring of masters of the immediate past, he was also very much “of his time.” “Monet also collected works that were nothing like him: works by Cézanne, by Renoir, bold paintings by Pissarro, and Signac paintings of the early period, even though people described him as being hostile to neo-Impressionism,” she said. “The collection reveals another reality: an artist with a very open mind.”


The Hansen's Secret Garden The Ordrupgaard Collection

From September 15, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Jacquemart-André museum

As is the case with the Musée Jacquemart-André, the Ordrupgaard Collection was assembled by two art lovers, the Danish couple Wilhelm (1868–1936) and Henny (1870–1951) Hansen. A businessman and art connoisseur, and an independent and visionary man, Wilhelm Hansen assembled in only two years (between 1916 and 1918) a collection—which was quite unique in Europe—of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works from the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A selection of more than forty works will be presented for the first time in Paris, at the Musée Jacquemart-André.

The exhibition will include works that are relatively unknown in France, ranging from Corot to Cézanne and Matisse, the changing landscapes of Monet, Pissarro, and Sisley, and the tender portraits of Renoir, Morisot, and Gonzalès. The works of emblematic artists such as Degas, Manet, and Courbet, will also be exhibited, ending with a finale devoted to the vibrant and sensual art of Gauguin.

After the Musée Jacquemart-André, the exhibition will be presented in other major museums in Europe and around the world, such as the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa.

Born in Copenhagen on 27 November 1868, Wilhelm Hansen forged a remarkable career in insurance. An independent and visionary man, he developed a passion for the arts, and French art in particular, which he succeeded in popularising in Denmark, thanks in particular to major exhibitions held in Copenhagen that presented works loaned from major French museums.

He met his wife Henny in 1887 during a performance at the Danish Royal Theatre. They got married on 30 October 1891 and adopted their son, Knud Wilhelm, in 1908.

Wilhelm Hansen’s passion for art began when he was a student: his friend Peter Hansen, who became one of the members of the Danish painters’ collective Fynboerne, introduced him to the artistic milieu. Some of these artists became close friends with Wilhelm and Henny, who, throughout their lives, enhanced their collection with paintings by Danish artists and the major works of the French Impressionists.

An imposing and charming mansion located north of Copenhagen, the Hansens’ private residence housed an art gallery that was open to the general public after its inauguration on 14 September 1918. In accordance with their wishes, the mansion of Ordrupgaard was left to the Danish state, which turned it into a museum in 1953. Between 2003 and 2005, a modernist extension designed by Zaha Hadid was added to the building’s structure. Its mineral appearance reflects the surrounding natural environment, providing an exceptional setting for the museum’s marvellous collection.


Rubens Royal portraits

From October 4, 2017 to February 15, 2018
Luxembourg museum.

This exhibition has two heroes: a queen and a painter. The former, Marie de Medici (1573- 1642), widow of Henry IV and mother of Louis XIII, is a key figure in the political and diplomatic history of the first third of the 17th century.

The latter, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), was the most famous painter of his time. Their influence extended throughout Europe. Marie de' Medici was connected to all the ruling dynasties through her family origins and the alliances forged by her children. Through his travels, and more than any other painter in the Baroque period, Rubens worked in every major centre of art, at times mixing creativity with diplomacy.

This exhibition reveals a little-known yet essential part of the artist's vast, multifaceted body of work: his portraits of kings and queens, princes and princesses. The Musée du Luxembourg is the setting here, within the walls of the palace that Marie de' Medici had built in 1615 and for which she commissioned Rubens to create a series of monumental paintings for its walls to illustrate her life.

The exhibition also serves as a Marie de' Medici family album. Portraits painted by rivals of Rubens, using the same models and with similar dates, reveal the master's originality in an arena as codified as it was prestigious.


André Derain 1904 – 1914. The radical decade

From October 4, 2017 to January 29, 2018
Pompidou Centre.

The Centre Pompidou is presenting André Derain 1904 - 1914. La décennie radicale (The Radical Decade), which takes a fresh look at the work of this major 20th century artist, tracing the various stages of his career before the First World War, when he was involved in the most radical avant-garde movements. Some remarkable groups of work have been brought together for the exhibition: his 1905 summer pieces painted in Collioure; a series of London scenes, and his very large dance and bather compositions.

The art of André Derain has not been the focus of any major monographic exhibitions since the 1994 retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris – in other words, for over twenty years. This French painter played a crucial intellectual role in the emergence of two major avant-garde movements in the early 20th century: Fauvism and Cubism. Early on, he made a solitary return to realism, foreshadowing all the figurative movements of magic realism from the Ingrism of Picasso to the metaphysical painting of De Chirico and the New Objectivity of Germany. Derain’s daring, highly inventive pre-war work is fascinating. Derain, who was close to Maurice de Vlaminck and Henri Matisse, and then Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, engaged forcefully with Fauvism and Cubism, developing a powerful body of work up to the First World War. He experimented visually in many ways, tackling painting, drawing, xylography, sculpture, ceramics and film, and practised photography throughout his life, along side his painting.

The exhibition focuses on an exploration of Derain’s hitherto unexhibited archives – his photographs, collections of prints and artwork reproductions, writings and correspondence – and for the first time sheds considerable light on some of his most iconic works through strong visual counterpoints: the photographs he took and his atypical artistic references, including Epinal’s engravings, the Maori objects he copied at the British Museum in 1906, and the African sculptures in his collection. The exhibition presents around seventy paintings, a large number of works on paper (watercolours, drawings, sketchbooks and engravings), sculptures and some fifty photographs, as well as Maori and African sculptures and ceramics.


Gauguin the alchimist

From October 11, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Grand Palais.

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was one of the great French painters of the 19th century and one of the most important precursors of modern art.

The exhibition at the Grand Palais retraces his exceptional career that led him to explore art in its diverse forms: painting, drawing, engraving, sculpture, ceramics, etc.

The masterpieces on display highlight the artist’s work with materials as well as his creative process: Gauguin forged his art on the repetition of themes and recurring motifs, constantly pushing the boundaries of each medium in an obsessive search for the primitive.

With a display of over 200 of the artist's works, Gauguin the alchemist is an exceptional journey into this major artist’s fascinating creative process. It is the first exhibition of its kind to study in depth the remarkable complementarity of the artist’s creations in the field of painting, sculpture, graphic and decorative arts. It focuses on the modernity of Gauguin’s creative process (1848-1903), and his ability to constantly push the limits of each medium.

This exhibition is organised by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, the Etablissement Public des musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, and the Art Institute of Chicago.


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