The suggested paintings
Caroline Bonaparte, princess of Murat...
Poplars au bord de L'Epte
Georges de la Tour
Story of Nastagio degli Onesti
"Paradise" and "death of the condemned"
Caspar David Friedrich
The cuirassier at the forest
Asher Brown Durand
Madonna and child with a bunch of grapes
Bugatti T57 SC Atlantic
by G. Fernández - theartwolf.com
published: April 2006
In the last years -more accurately, in the last decades- the art market has suffered a radical change in its protagonists. The economical recuperation, added to the boom in the popularity of painting -especially the modern and contemporary one- have changed the roles in sales and auctions: the museums are now unable to compete with private buyers, who pay unreachable prizes for the most coveted works of art. The museums are now forced to choose carefully their acquisitions, and in many occasions they must be helped by governmental funds or private sponsors.
Ignoring economical issues -obviously we are not informed about the economical situation or the financial system of every museum in the world- theArtWolf is suggesting to the main museums in Europe and the United States one artwork that would enrich their wonderful collections.
Of course, except one of two cases that we are not going to reveal, we have no hope that these works could be acquired by their "assigned" museum. Although all them are in private hands, many of them are not for sale, and their owners seem not willing to let them go. Also, my elections could, of course, be considered ridiculous by many people. Nevertheless, here they go:
MUSEO DEL LOUVRE - Paris, France
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Caroline Bonaparte, princess of Murat, queen of Napoli, 1814 (private collection, New York)
What is doing this wonderful picture in private hands? It may sound incredible that a masterwork like this had been out of the public view for almost two centuries, but that's right: it was lost little time after it was painted, and it was not recovered until the end of the last century. The picture is an absolute masterwork, one of the two or three best portraits by Ingres. The princess stands, elegant and majestic, in front of a large window whose horizontals and verticals smartly organize the composition. The splendour of the lady seems to belittle even the menacing Vesubio, perfectly framed by the window's lines. A masterwork worthy of the world's best museum. Talking about the Louvre, we were tempted to suggest a Velázquez (intolerable absence in the Parisian museum) but we could not find any work by the Spanish master still in private hands worthy of such a fabled institution.
MUSEO DE ORSAY - Paris, France
Poplars au bord de l'Epte, 1891 (private collection, USA)
One of the most beautiful works by Monet in the world. The composition so beautifully resembles the beauty of a Japanese haiku, asymmetric and touching, while the poplars' leaves sing in red, purple, and finally in a blue that would make Yves Klein green with envy. It is Monet in his full bloom, and a perfect acquisition for the Orsay Museum, the best collection of impressionist paintings in the world.
NATIONAL GALLERY - London, UK
Georges de la Tour
Quarrelling musicians, 1625-30 (private collection)
The National Gallery is not only one of the best museums in the world, but it is also arguably the most complete collection of European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Nevertheless, there are still a bit "holes" to fill in its collections, such as the absence of the French painter Georges de la Tour, who is beginning to obtain the recognition he deserves as one of the zeniths of tenebrism. It is still possible to acquire an important picture by this master, and "Quarrelling musicians" is a stunning masterwork.
PRADO MUSEUM - Madrid, Spain
Portrait of Isabella Coymans, c.1650-52 (private collection)
Talking about acquisitions, the Prado is an atypical case among the others museums of the world. Instead of using its economical funds on those fields of its collection that can be considered "incomplete" (flagrant lacks in the early Italian renaissance, for example), its acquisitions are destined to enrich its already fabulous collections of Spanish and Flemish painting (for example, Velázquez's "El barbero del Papa" or the most recent acquisition of the "Crucifixion" by Juan de Flandes) continuing the taste of the 17th and 18th century Spanish kings. Balancing both ideas (completing vs. enriching) I suggest a work by an artist who is not represented in the museum, and which would also enrich the great collection of Dutch painting.
GALERIA DEGLI UFFIZZI - Florence, Italy
Story of Nastagio degli Onesti - 4th panel (private collection, possibly in Florence)
Every work by Botticelli should be in Florence, and, if possible, in the Uffizzi. This quite radical and unquestionable idea makes me suggest this panel, adding two advantages: it is the only one panel from the "Nastagio" series still in private hands, being a very different composition than the other three (in fact, it is a perfectly independent work). Also, the fact of being owned by an Italian collector would keep foreign buyers away, making its acquisition much easier.
RIJKSMUSEUM - Amsterdam, Netherlands
"The paradise" and "death of the condemned" (private collection, New York)
As far as I know, the Rijksmuseum has no work from Hieronymus Bosch in its collections, an intolerable lack for what it is claimed to be the world's best collection of Flemish and Netherlandish painting. The two works suggested are small in size, but they posses all you can find in a genuine Bosch: stunning colors, devout imagery, some irony and even a certain macabre surrealism.
NATIONAGALERIE - Berlin, Germany
Caspar David Friedrich
The cuirassier at the forest, 1832 (private collection, Bielefeld)
The Nationalgalerie has the opportunity to do with Friedrich what the Tate did with Turner or the Prado with Velázquez: an author that by himself "makes a museum". This work, which could proudly hang besides the "The Lonely Tree" or the "The monk by the sea", is, even with its small size, a fabulous example of the beauty and charm of the romanticism, and a piece of German national heritage.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF WASHINGTON - Washington, USA
Asher Brown Durand
Kindred spirits, (Warner collection)
Too obvious? That's exactly why we have chosen it. This masterpiece, one of most beautiful American paintings ever created, well deserves to be owned by a public collection, although the fact of that no public institution has found the $35 million needed to its acquisition shows a flagrant lack of interest. It is also a fabulous work for the Metropolitan, which would also take the painting back to New York, but its hypothetical acquisition by the NGA would assure it as a public heritage.
METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART - New York, USA
Madonna and child with a bunch of grapes (private collection, formerly in the Matthiesen Gallery)
This is an exceptional early Renaissance panel, one of the very best still in private hands, which had been wandering on the art market from a long ago. As far as we know, the Met owns only one work by Fra Angelico, much inferior in quality than this one.
MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (MOMA) - New York, USA
Bugatti T57 SC Atlantic, 1938
You didn't expect this, did you? One of the biggest achievements of the MOMA has been the inclusion in its collections of artistic fields not usually accepted by other museums, and the acquisition of the most beautiful piece of "rolling art" ever created would be another triumph in its list of achievements.