Art market Magazine December 2016

 
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© All rights reserved © ADAGP, Paris 2016…
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© All rights reserved © ADAGP, Paris 2016

Albert Marquet (1875-1947), “Les Bas rouges”, 1912, oil on canvas, 81.3 x 65 cm (detail).

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DONATION

The charisma of a donation

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t all began in the 1970s, when Marlene Hays gave her husband an ektachrome of a painting by the 17th century Dutch painter Bartholomeus
Maton to decorate their New York apartment. "Why did you buy such an expensive 'image'?" he asked her, sceptical. The story shows that the couple now donating their modern art collection to the Musée d'Orsay were very much beginners in this area. "Their collection, whose first painting was bought relatively late on, is the result of a long, slow maturing of taste," says Yves Badetz, the museum's head of acquisitions. "Their thinking reveals a francophile bias that is not very common. What's more, in their home, their collection is housed in a traditional French interior." So after some early purchases focused on American art, the collection became a group of French paintings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bonnard, Degas, Vuillard, Fantin-Latour, Dufy, Gauguin and Pissarro feature prominently in the list of works donated to the French State on 22 October this year. It's a dazzling array that includes a rare oil on canvas by Aristide Maillol before he turned to sculpture, Odilon Redon's "Le Buisson rouge", once owned by Maurice Denis, and better-known masterpieces like Albert Marquet's "Les Bas rouges" (1912) and Amedeo Modiglia-

ni's portrait of "Chaïm Soutine" (1917). "The unifying factor is 19th century Paris," says Isabelle Cahn, curator at Orsay. "The collection marvellously complements the museum's own, which has no small formats from this period, for instance."

The world's largest collection of Nabis
This historical donation with usufruct will take place in several stages. The agreement finalised at the Élysée concerns an initial group of 187 works. The entire collection (between 600 and 700 works) will only be officially donated in the next few years. "Between the decision to make the donation and its actual arrangements, there is a lot of work to be done in terms of checking the works' provenances," says Yves Badetz. "It infers that the collection is not complete. Future purchases will be added to future donations." The core of this first group is undeniably the Nabi and Symbolist movements, represented by 69 paintings and a wealth of drawings. "We love people, and that's what interested the Nabis. That's what drew me to them," says Spencer Hays. Paul-Elie Ranson, Ker-Xavier Roussel and Paul Sérusier are lined up alongside magisterial works by Pierre Bonnard, with a rare Japa-

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Art Market Magazine December 2016
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