From Germany to the Louvre and its acquisitions policy

From Germany to the Louvre and its acquisitions policy
From Germany to the Louvre and its acquisitions policy

The Louvre undoubtedly has a vocation, for old and 19th century painting (at least until the chronological break of 1848, which does not make much sense and is applied far too strictly), to show all countries and all eras. .

But when it comes to a foreign school that is still insufficiently represented, in this case 19th century German painting, it would be appropriate when buying, to do so with discernment, and according to clear principles. This does not seem to us to be the case with this acquisition.


1. Johann Richard Seel (1819-1875)

Portrait of Betty Josefine Jacobine Bloem and Friderike Luisa Bloem1841

Oil on canvas – 108 x 87 cm

Paris, Louvre Museum

Photo: Gallery 19C

See the image on his page


Let us first present the work. This is a painting by Johann Richard Seel (ill. 1), whose existence we modestly admit, like many of our readers no doubt, to have discovered on this occasion. It dates from 1841 and represents the portrait of two sisters. The painting, which has echoes of Nazarene art, is more strange than beautiful. Of course, this is a subjective opinion. But what is objective is that it is a work by a minor German painter who was not even present in the major exhibition on the painting of the Düsseldorf school (see the article ). It only has a Wikipedia entry in German, and even this one, which struggles to provide many bibliographical references, is quite succinct.

We often champion little-known artists, sometimes as interesting as the so-called lighthouses. But for a museum whose gaps in German art from the first half of the 19th century are as glaring as the Louvre, was it really necessary to purchase such a painting, and shouldn’t it first concentrate on the most representative painters of this school?

To be as transparent as possible in this very critical article, we are publishing all of the questions in a note [1] that we asked him and the answers he gave us [2]and we will explain why his arguments really do not seem convincing to us.

First of all, we asked him about the overall acquisition policy of the museum, and of course the paintings department. Although he did not respond to us on this specific point, contenting himself with talking to us about German painting, this policy is known thanks to the museum’s Scientific and Cultural Project, accessible online here.

The first line, which is “ strengthen strengths », cannot be invoked here, German painting of the 19th century…

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