From Fra Angelico to Bonnard
Masterpieces Covering Five Centuries of Art
'Dr. Rau's Collection is one the finest art collections in the world and the greatest collection to remain private and to be seen rarely by the public.'
This fabulous exhibition is on view from 12th July 2000 to 4th January 2001, in The Luxembourg Museum of Art.
One of the most important private collections in the world is being exhibited in Paris' Luxembourg Art Museum in the Senate building. This is in fact the oldest public art museum in the world, established in 1615 by Marie de Medici and opened to the public since 1750, that is making a come-back in grand style by organizing this outstanding temporary exhibition of great value both to the public and art connaisseurs.
By covering five centuries of Western art and encompassing the most significant periods and artists, Dr. Rau's collection has the extraordinary quality of a major collection put together by a first-rate museum.
The exhibition starts with the Italian collection amongst which two major works by Fra Angelico. These are panels painted for the San Domenico church of Fiesole: Fra Angelico's Saint Michael is outstanding amongst the portraits that exist in the world of this saint, who is known for being God's Commander of the Celestial Army, because it also underlines the refined elegance of this first amongst the Archangels. A "Piétà" by Crivelli, and Guido Reni's "David and Goliath" and his "Saint John Evangelista de Dolci" that is one of a series of his paintings of the four Evangelists, are also part of this admirable collection of Italian painters. The later Italian school of Venice is also present through Canaletto and Belloto as well as a remarkably modern "Allegory" by Tiepolo, whose light pallette and choice of model resembles an impressionist's!
In the Flemmish & Dutch collection, significant paintings by Colyn de Coter (see "Saint Veronica" that conveys her immense spirituality), Van der Weyden, Jan Mandyn and Ter Bruggen are present alongside master landscape painters such as Ruysdael and Frans Post. Completing the collection are intimate paintings of rare virtuousity by Willem Van Aelst and intimate interiors by Gérard Dou.
Two important works by Cranach 'The Old', including an originally executed tryptic icon showing three episodes of Christ's life and miracles, are part of the German school of painting. Intensely expressive portraits by Graff highlight Dr. Rau's predilection for the genre.
El Greco's "Saint Dominic praying" is faith personified, reaching out for the surcharged and surreal sky so evocative of God's presence. In contrast, Ribera's "Saint Jeremy" is a down-to-Earth and strongly human saint. These inestimable masterpieces are great examples of Spanish art present in the collection.
Reynolds' portrait of Rebecca Watson is innocence that is preserved even when covered with jewels: her innocence comes across intact, compensating for the outdated jewels. Reynolds, as well as masterly paintings by Gainsborough and Wright are amongst the finest masterpieces representing the 18th century English school of painting.
17th Century French painting represented by highly spiritual works by Linard and panoramic landscapes by Millet are representative of 18th century French art. Present as well in this collection is a major work by François Boucher "la leçon de flute". The portraits of the French collection of this epoch are painted by great masters of portraiture such as Quentin Latour, Vigée Le Brun et de Greuze, culminating with Fragonard's portrait of François-Henri the duke of Harcourt, one of the fifteen figures of fantasy executed by the artist.
The modern part of the collection is of utmost importance, and some fine works by Corot ("l'Algérienne") and Courbet ("Bacchante") are preludes to this impressive collection that takes you to Boudin's "Trouville Beach". Bazille's "Fisher" marks the transition to the impressionist thought and method.
A place of honor is given to Renoir's sublime "Femme à la Rose" of 1876. Observe the tender gaze of those questioning eyes full of human curiosity mingled with love that are so characteristic of Renoir's portraits.
All the greatest figures of impressionism are present here from Monet, with six of his most important paintings, emblematic of his unique artistic power from the early Barbizon style to the series of the Pont-Coton pyramids painted in Belle-Île-en-Mer that mark his forging of a new style, a new way of conveying his feelings or "impressions". Pissaro's "View of Ermitage" and the "Road from St.Germain to Louveciennes" are two of the greatest landscapes he ever painted, where Sisley's "Snow effects in Marly" is simply a snow scene that has never been equalled. One of the most beautiful pastels by Mary Cassat "Maternity" complete the impressionist cycle; just observe the power of love through a most powerful drawing. Cézanne's "l'Estaque", one of his finest masterpieces, that shows his breakthrough with the impressionists and his giant step towards modernism, is part of this collection. The Nabis are present with Sérusier, Maurice Denis, and Valloton. There is Vuilliard with a series of self-portraits, and Bonnard with "The Bay of Saint Tropez", the distant scene treated with colours of utmost beauty that contrast with the treatment of the foreground. Redon's "Chariots of Apollon" and two interesting paintings by Klimt represent the Symbolist movement. Fauvism and Expressionism are represented through Vlaminck, Derain, Marquet, and Van Dongen (see the superb portrait of his daughter Dolly; the use of complementary colours sculpting the form of her face. Misunderstood at the time, this precious work was classified as fauvist). Dufy's "Plage de Saint-Adresse" is one of his finest. No-one can create the atmosphere of a beach the way he did; it is charged with feeling, a planet of his own. Of the Expressionist group there are outstanding works by Munch, Jawlensky and August Macke. And to end the collection in superb and fine taste, so symbolic of the whole collection itself, see Morandi's "Still-Life with bottle and glass".
Art Lovers' Paris