Musée d’Orsay forced to return works by Renoir, Cézanne and Gauguin | Art

The French court ordered the Musée d’Orsay to return four works of art – two canvases by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, one by Paul Cézanne, and another by Paul Gauguin – which had been claimed for a decade by the heirs of the dealer, gallerist and editor Ambroise Vollard. The French state, which oversees the museum, has already announced that it will not appeal the decision.

The works in question are a maritime landscape – Marina, Guernsey (1883) – and a sanguine study for the work The Judgment of Paris (1908), both by Renoir, a Still Life with Mandolin (1885), by Gauguin, and a watercolor by Cezanne entitled sous-bois (1890-1892), which belonged to the collection of Ambroise Vollard and were sold after his death, during the Nazi occupation of France.

In addition to these four canvases that will now finally be recovered, the heirs of Vollard – who helped launch painters such as Van Gogh, Matisse or Picasso – still claim rights to two more works by Renoir (roses in a vase It is The Great Bathers) and another by Cézanne (Old Man’s Head), which are also preserved at the Musée d’Orsay.

Ambroise Vollard – after whom the famous vollard suite, a set of one hundred prints that the gallery owner commissioned from Picasso in the 1930s – he died in July 1939, aged 73, in a car accident. It was said that he was sleeping in the backseat of his car, driven by a driver, when the vehicle collided, causing a bronze statue sculpted by Aristide Maillol to fall on his head. The story was never properly confirmed, but what is certain is that Vollard did not make a will and left more than six thousand works of art, whose distribution to his brothers and sisters generated endless controversies.

One of these brothers, designated as executor of the inheritance, Lucien Vollard, helped two French art dealers – Étienne Bignou and Martin Fabiani – to divert part of the works from the collection to be sold to German museums and collectors during the occupation. Both were convicted of illicit earnings after World War II, but apparently without major consequences, as they remained active in the medium for several decades afterwards.

The canvases were found in Germany by the Allied forces, in 1945, and returned to France, where they are kept at the Musée d’Orsay, whose collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, with more than a thousand canvases, is considered the largest in the world.

Vollard’s heirs asked for the works to be returned, but the French State argued that the circumstances in which they had been sold were not clear enough to justify the restitution. And the fact that Vollard was not Jewish and that his collection was not looted under Nazi racial laws made the restitution process more complex, explains the site ArtNews.

In 2018, the State refused to return these same four works, but in 2022 the judicial court in Paris established that Vollard’s heirs are the legitimate owners of the canvases. A decision now confirmed by the administrative court, which ordered the State to return the paintings. The decision was still subject to appeal, but the French State has already announced that it does not intend to appeal.

Leave a Comment

I want to Sell this domain contact at [email protected]