When Impressionism Invaded the Louvre: The Isaac de Camondo Bequest

   1352    6
When Impressionism Invaded the Louvre: The Isaac de Camondo Bequest
Edgar Degas, The Ballet Class, between 1873-1876, oil on canvas. Public Domain: Wikipedia The Musée du Louvre had a longstanding rule: no artworks created by an artist who died within the last 10 years could enter the permanent collection. Count Isaac de Camondo changed all that. Having promised his enormous collection (804 pieces) of old and contemporary artworks to the Louvre in 1897, then signing an agreement on December 18, 1908, he singlehandedly engineered the invasion of Impressionism into the hallowed halls of France’s most conservative art institution. Moreover, the museum had to accept works by artists who, on the day of the count’s death (April 7, 1911), were still living: Degas, Renoir, and Monet. The ”Degas” room in Count Isaac de Camondo’s home at 82, Avenue Champs-Élysées. It was a generous gift of paintings, prints, decorative arts, and furniture, from the Middle Ages through the early 20th century, from Europe and the Far East. Among the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings and works on paper were 26 Edgar Degas (1834-1917), 14 Claude Monets (1840-1926), three Pierre-Auguste Renoirs (1841-1919), eight Albert Sisleys (1839-1899), two Camille Pissarros (1830-1903), nine Paul Cézannes (1839-1906), one Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), and one Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). In concert with these late-19th century moderns was Camondo’s extensive collection of Japanese prints (over 400), sculptures, and decorative objects, evidence of his early embrace of Japonisme which influenced Degas and van Gogh. Count Isaac de Camondo’s home at 82, Avenue Champs-Élysées. Additionally, he gave the Louvre 11 works by Édouard Manet (1833-1883), a friend and mentor to the Impressionists but not an official member, plus numerous other works (paintings and works on paper) by various more acceptable 19th century artists: Camille Corot (1796-1875), Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898), and Claude Monet’s principal mentors Johann-Barthold Jongkind (1819-1891) and  Eugène Boudin (1824-1898). Unlike his conservative cousin Moïse de Camondo (March 15, 1860-November 14, 1935), who surrounded himself with authentic, 18th-century, French art and objects, which he donated to France along with his house, the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Isaac de Camondo used his munificence to quietly affect a revolution in the history of art. Salle Isaac de Camondo. Musée du Louvre
  • SUBSCRIBE
  • ALREADY SUBSCRIBED?

Lead photo credit : Portrait de Isaac de Camondo, c. 1908. © Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris.

Previous Article Letter from Paris: July 19, 2023 News Digest
Next Article Weekend in Paris: A Self-Guided Three-Day Walking Tour


Beth S. Gersh-Nešić, Ph.D. is an art historian and the director of the New York Arts Exchange, an arts education service that offers tours and lectures in the New York tristate area. She specializes in the study of Cubism and has published on the art criticism of Apollinaire’s close friend, poet/art critic/journalist André Salmon. She teaches art history at Mercy College in Westchester, New York. She published a book with French poet/literary critic Jean-Luc Pouliquen called "Transatlantic Conversation: About Poetry and Art." Her most recent book is a translation and annotation of "Pablo Picasso, André Salmon and 'Young French Painting,'" with an introduction by Jacqueline Gojard.

Comments

  • Sandra Smith
    2023-08-07 06:29:42
    Sandra Smith
    Fantastic article Beth! I wish we'd known all this when we visited the museum.

    REPLY

  • Louise Stevens
    2023-07-27 01:34:31
    Louise Stevens
    A most interesting article about Isaac de Camondo and his equally fascinating family. Thank you Beth. "Letters to Camondo" is an unusual book, well worth reading. My husband and I found a visit to the beautiful Musee Nissim de Camondo to be informative, but also very moving. There is a restaurant next door that had previously belonged to Isaac's family, but the museum is adjacent to Parc Monceau, a lovely place for a picnic lunch.

    REPLY

  • Lora Manion
    2023-07-25 12:45:36
    Lora Manion
    Thank you for this fantastic article! I appreciate your extensive research and presentation of resources and photographs.

    REPLY

    • Beth Gersh-Nesic
      2023-08-15 06:46:28
      Beth Gersh-Nesic
      Dear Lora, Thank you so much for this kind response to the article. The McAuley book inspired me to look for more on Isaac de Camondo. Warm wishes, Beth

      REPLY

  • Brandon Becker
    2023-07-23 09:47:48
    Brandon Becker
    Cf. T. Stoppard, Leopoldstadt (1920)(not business, not conversion, not art & not culture would save them).

    REPLY

  •  Marilyn Brouwer
    2023-07-20 12:50:25
    Marilyn Brouwer
    Utterly fascinating article Beth with sublime research. Thank you.

    REPLY

    • Beth Gersh-Nesic
      2023-07-20 05:20:22
      Beth Gersh-Nesic
      Marilyn, You are so kind! A compliment from you really means a lot to me. Thank you so much!

      REPLY