Le Bain turc
Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)
Musée du Louvre
Since its origin, the spirit of the "Société des Amis du
Louvre" had been clearly set out: the task was artistic (to purchase works
for the museum), but also patriotic: the idea was to enable the Louvre to be a
competitor to foreign museums, especially the younger museums such as the
English National Gallery and the Museum of Berlin, which were then very active
in purchasing works of art.
It is still the case today: the subscriptions of its members are almost fully used to enrich the collections of the Louvre, which in todays increasingly competitive art market requires ever greater financial resources.
The exhibition presents all the works of art offered by the Friends of the Louvre to the museum during hundred years: the first work, a Vierge à l'Enfant by Alessio Baldovineti (in 1898); the most famous works (for example Le Bain Turc by Ingres, Saint Sébastien by Georges de la Tour and La Folle de Géricault); the very important French primitives (among which the Pieta de Villeneuve-lès-Avignon by Enguerrand Quarton, but also paintings by Jean Hey, Fouquet and Lieferinxe) and many other works purchased for the seven departments of the museum. The only missing works will be L'Atelier by Courbet, too fragile to be transported, and approximately 300 drawings, whose number would create an imbalance in the presentation.
It is proper to pay homage not only to the "Société", but above all to those who compose it: to its members who today are more than 60,000. They are our most attentive, most assiduous, most demanding, and most kind visitors. We owe our thanks to them for the purchase of so many masterpieces gathered today.