Acquisitions Display

Winter 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.

  • Jean-Jacques Flipart (1719-1782), after Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805), Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763
    Etching, first state, 207 × 143 mm (plate)
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2021-P.25
  • Jean-Jacques Flipart (1719-1782), after Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805), Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1763
    Etching, second state, 207 × 143 mm (plate)
    Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2021-P.26

Jean-Baptiste Greuze built his reputation by painting genre scenes of high moral impact, raising them to the rank of history painting. His particular skill was in expressing the intensity of the feelings of his models. This portrait however, the most famous representation of Greuze made during his lifetime, is invested with a certain serious quality. It was engraved by Jean-Jacques Flipart after a self-portrait drawn by Greuze (The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). The classical severity it radiates is accentuated by the strict profile and the fact that it is an imitation of a bas-relief bust, seen against a marble background. The mineral effect, already hinted at in the first state, is reinforced in the second and final state of the print, both on show here: the materiality of the stone, with its chips and flaws, its hardness, are skilfully rendered by Flipart.

Bartolomeo (1757-1834) and Pietro Paoletti (1801-1847), Il Museo di Parigi
Impressions of intaglios and cameos
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2018-OB.4

The evocation of sculpture and stone in these engravings is echoed in another object in the showcase, albeit an object of a type probably much less frequently expected in the collections of the Fondation Custodia. This unusual book – which is in fact a box – contains intaglio and cameo impressions. Fine stones like these, exquisitely carved out (intaglio) or cut in relief (cameo), had been admired and coveted since Antiquity. The infatuation with intaglios and cameos reached its climax in neo-classical times in Rome. Workshops – one of the most famous of which at the end of the eighteenth century was the Paoletti workshop located at 49 Piazza di Spagna – produced matrices in vitreous paste from originals in the most celebrated collections. These matrices allowed the studio to produce a series of impressions in scagliola (a kind of plaster or stucco) aimed at tourists, collectors, artists and any other art lovers who came to Rome. Visitors would leave Rome carrying volumes such as this one which they could display in their libraries like real catalogues, illustrated and in relief with reproductions of celebrated works of art, ancient and modern. Among the twelve examples in the Fondation Custodia devoted to illustrious men, to the works of Thorvaldsen or Canova, or to the great Italian collections, this one reproduces the classical sculptures in the ‘Museo de Parigi’, the Louvre.

Charles François Sellier (1830-1882), Fountain in the Campagna Romana, c. 1859
Oil on paper, on cardboard, 11,4 × 29,3 cm
Fondation Custodia, Collection Frits Lugt, Paris, inv. 2021-S.60

The mineral nature of these miniaturised works is in turn reflected in the stone of the fountain painted by Charles François Sellier in the Roman campagna. Sellier was born in Nancy and was known during his lifetime as a portrait painter. But like many of the pensionnaires at the Académie de France in Rome, he also tackled landscapes during his stay in Italy between 1857 and 1863. By producing small oil paintings in the open air, he developed a very personal sensitivity in the interplay between the pictorial materiality and that of the support, sometimes left in reserve. Through the rough and almost matt character of his oil sketch, Sellier fully expresses the mineral aspect of the landscape and the fountain.