Acquisitions Display

Spring 2021

Regularly, the showcase in the Hôtel Turgot’s vestibule is filled with a new arrangement of works of art picked among those newly acquired by the Fondation Custodia. Guided by the inspiration of the moment, this choice often derives from a specific feeling evoked by a work and unfolds through the wish to tell a story with and around the pieces thus selected. Just as in a full-fledged exhibition, the artworks gathered engage in a dialogue that is visual, iconographic, technical, or across eras – or even all at once.

Acquisitions display
Hôtel Turgot, April 2021

At the centre of this display are two miniature portraits gifted to the Fondation by a friend from Brussels. In Year VIII of the French Republic (1799-1800), Pierre de Saint-Pierre and his wife, née Marie Texier, were depicted in profile against a dark background, as was the habit of the miniaturist Charles Bourgeois, who was also a physicist and a chemist. A window within a window, the frame harboring them is lined with a slightly faded reddish-brown velvet which adds the perfect final touch to their precious and refined natures.

Albert Besnard (Paris 1849 – 1934 Paris), A pair of slippers
Watercolour, 127 × 245 mm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2021-T.1

From portraits of a presence to portraying through absence. With his sensitivity as a naturalist painter, Albert Besnard, for his part, devoted all his attention to a humble and ordinary subject, an object that is par excellence intimate: a pair of slippers. In a few strokes of brown, grey and green watercolour, he instilled life into the house shoes, their heels flattened for comfort and effortless use, worn through the years, and warped by their wearer’s feet.

Attributed to Jan Baptist Weenix (Amsterdam 1621 – 1659/61 De Haar), Study Sheet with Sandals and a Hunting Horn
Black chalk and white chalk, 190 × 314 mm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2021-T.3

From indoor shoes to outdoor shoes. The Dutch painter Jan Baptist Weenix, two centuries earlier, had also spent some time contemplating a pair of shoes that he’d seen while traveling through Italy. The sandals, drawn vigorously in black chalk, belonged to a hunter who had not only removed his shoes but also deposited his hunting horn nearby. Could it be that he’d crossed paths with a deer, or perhaps with the goddess of hunting herself?

Anonymous, School of Fontainebleau(?), XVIth century, Diana
Chiaroscuro woodcut, 115 × 158 mm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2020-P.51

The latter is represented above, in a chiaroscuro woodcut. Sitting in a languorously reclining posture, leaning on a vase from which water gently flows, and surrounded by numerous animals, this Diana calls to mind the large bronze sculpture executed by Benvenuto Cellini upon Francis I’s request, for his château in Fontainebleau (and found at the Louvre today). This rare print – there are only two other impressions known, in Vienna and Chicago – could be by the hand of an artist of the same school.

Bernardo Cavallino (Naples 1616 – 1656 Naples), Diana, bust-length, looking down to the left
Red chalk, 149 × 141 mm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2021-T.6

From the Fontainebleau Diana to an Italian Diana. In Bernardino Cavallino’s drawing – one of eight drawings given to the artist today – Diana, without her animals or arrows, can be recognized through the crescent swiftly drawn in her hair. With a few strokes, the Italian artist defined the elegant tilting of her head as well as the movement in her hair and in the drapery over her shoulder. Then the red chalk lingers, adding a frown to the brow, lowering the gaze and parting the lips. An expression of distress, anger or perhaps surprise thus appears on her face, most probably as a reaction to an indiscreet encounter, to which only the painter was privy.