Art market Magazine February 2014

 
MEETING 
 
The legacy of Delacroix 
n 1900, he bought…
MEETING

The legacy of Delacroix
n 1900, he bought Manet's "Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe" for 55,000 francs, in view of giving it to the Louvre. This alone would have justified museums'
immense gratitude for his generosity, which manifested itself again when he donated his collection to the State in 1906. But the merit of Étienne MoreauNélaton (1859-1927) also lay in other gifts of works by Delacroix, Corot, Manet, Renoir and Monet, now in the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. An extraordinary figure, he was also a painter and art historian. At 29 he developed a keen love of the Impressionists – "thus crossing swords" with his parents, as he wrote. He did not yet buy them, but exhibited with them at the Salon des XX in Brussels. Like his collection, the books he devoted notably to the painters Jongkind, Millet, Corot, Manet and Daubigny, and to an architectural heritage severely damaged during the 1917 war, evinced a genuine instinct to pass works on and preserve them. A tireless collector of archives, he amassed letters, autographs and drawings to substantiate his books. His father, Adolphe Moreau (1827-1882), had left Delacroix's "La Barque de Dante" to the Louvre, and published the first catalogue of his works in 1873. Étienne carried on

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his research with "Delacroix raconté par lui-même", in which he also related the memories and anecdotes of his father and grandfather, who had known the artist. He belonged to a generation who could not acquire without wanting to understand, analyse and index. Étienne Moreau-Nélaton had several lives, all imbued with his love of art. When he tragically lost his mother and wife in May 1897 in the fire at the Bazar de la Charité, he found his salvation in art. A few days after the tragedy, he bought a painting by Manet, soon adding works by Monet, Renoir, Berthe Morisot, Sisley and Pissarro. He later donated them, in 1906 and 1919. This was followed, nearly ten years later, with a bequest of thousands of drawings by Corot, Millet and Jongkind, as well as fifteen albums and over fifteen hundred drawings by Eugène Delacroix. To this we can add a few more paintings, all his photographs, his library and his archives. As though yearning to fill the void and exorcise his grief, he collected with the pleasure of donating. The idea of celebrating him came from the Musée Delacroix. "Admiration for the Romantic painter was passed down from generation to generation, like his paintings, drawings and etchings," says Dominique

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Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), "Jewish Musicians in Mogador", oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm (detail). Musée du Louvre, donated by Étienne Moreau-Nélaton in 1906.

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©
RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre)/Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Art Market Magazine February 2014
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