Madonna and Langlois, French passion

1. Jerome-Martin Langlois (1779-1838)

Diana and Endymioncirca 1822

Oil on canvas – 318 x 211 cm

United States of America, private collection

Photo: Wikipedia/Public domain

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We said we wouldn’t talk about it, and this is already the second time we’ve mentioned it: of course it’s the Madonna “affair”, the famous painting by Jérôme-Martin Langlois that he acquired some thirty years ago (he. 1).

It’s true that it’s hard to ignore: her story is on the front pages of all the French and international newspapers! With almost every moment many factual errors are repeated. We refer to our first article to get to know them.

But the press release recently broadcast on video by Brigitte Fouré, mayor of Amiens, is undeniably a twist: the affair becomes political, and even a matter of State because it will enlist the support of Emmanuel Macron who, we know, is from the city, so the singer lent the painting to Amiens.

These desk loan requests, however, come with substantive questions. Either that – which is most likely – wasn’t what the Louvre put forward in time – and the loan request might have been.

Whether it is indeed a lost job, which is not completely excluded in spite of everything, and in this respect remains inalienable and inalienable, and no one can say, as the mayor of Amiens did : ” we do not dispute in any way the lawful acquisition you have made “. Because if so, the painting will remain in the possession of the Louvre. There is nothing to reproach the Madonna, who did get it in good faith, but it must be returned to France, and if it is loaned to her, it can be confiscated.

But what is most interesting in this story is the passion that this painting sparks. The quality justifies it, but we want to point out something obvious, which concerns not only Amiens and its museum which, for that matter, has done a lot by launching, restoring and exhibiting in recent years – even if this current movement seems to be slowing down a bit – many very large canvases have remained in storage, not seen for decades, if not more than a century.

We have written about this on many occasions here, specifically in this 9/9/15 news, 15/9/14, 26/6/13 and we have talked about it on a podcast with Olivia Voisin who was then curator at the Musée de Picardie .


2. Charles-Auguste Steuben (1788-1856)

Peter the Great was caught in a storm

Oil on canvas – 350 x 400 cm

Amiens, Picardy Museum

Photo: Picardy Museum

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Few of these works, often by very talented artists but unknown to non-specialists such as Jérôme-Martin Langlois, are as beautiful and important as this Diana and Endymion, but we did not see them! Let’s take two examples in Amiens that Olivia Voisin told us about in her interview: the large canvas by Charles-Auguste Steuben, Peter the Great was caught in a storm (he. 2), exhibited at the Salon of 1812, was acquired by Napoleon I and one of his favorite paintings. Damaged during the First World War [1], it does have gaps, and it was rolled in a precarious state, but it can be recovered and the lost parts returned thanks to the reproduction of the prints we know. The Musée de Picardie is seeking patrons for its restoration and Olivia Voisin hopes to be hung in the grand salon for the reopening of the museum which, according to her, is one of the great masterpieces. But he was still waiting for his awakening.


3. Guillaume Dubufe (1853-1909)

Sacred Music

Oil on canvas

Amiens, Picardy Museum

Photo: Picardy Museum

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4. Guillaume Dubufe (1853-1909)

Secular Music

Oil on canvas

Amiens, Picardy Museum

Photo: Picardy Museum

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Let’s also mention, but there are more in Amiens, two monumental paintings by Guillaume Dubufe (he. 3 and 4), again according to the curator collection highlights […] emblem painting of the late 19th century », where he is also looking for customers. They also always roll up as a backup…


5. François-Joseph Heim (1787-1875)

Sack of Jerusalem by the Romans1824

Oil on canvas – 392 x 460 cm

Paris, Louvre Museum

Photo: Louvre Museum

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But this type of work is not unique to Amiens which, let us repeat, is quite exemplary in this field. You can find them in many museums, including the Louvre, such as Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans by Francois-Joseph Heim (he. 5).

Hardly anyone moved as they had been stored in storage for centuries.

It’s true that there are no more questions about Madonna here…

We therefore hope that the Musée de Picardie – a vacant but soon to be filled directorship – will have the additional means of pursuing the valiant policies it has just adopted. And we hope another museum, driven by popular fervor and media that seems to want to be born around the grand format of the 19th century – which we sometimes preach in the desert from birth Art Tribune – decided to launch the big restoration campaign we called for.

Unless this new craze actually concerns only Madonna and not the forgotten Jérôme-Martin Langlois and company?

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