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Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris opens an exhibition of works from the Courtauld Collection
Installation view.

PARIS.- The Courtauld Collection: A Vision for Impressionism reveals the discerning eye and commitment of Samuel Courtauld (1876-1947), one of the greatest art patrons of the 20th century. Created in close associations with his wife Elizabeth, the collction of this textile manufacturer with distant French origins, was largely assembled between 1923 and 1929, and compromises an exceptional group of French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.

This presentation of the collection, the first in Paris since the Musée de l’Orangerie exhibition in 1955, gathers some 110 paintings and works on paper, including a group of ten watercolours by J.M.W Turner acquired by Samuel’s brother, Stephen.

The exhibition is introduced by Manet’s iconic work A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. It is organized around large groups dedicated to Cézanne, the collector’s favourite artist – Montagne Sainte-Victoire with a Large Pine, Lac d’Annecy, Card Players and Seurat, with Young Woman Powdering Herself, The Channel of Gravelines, The Bridge at Courbevoie- and punctuated by works by Monet, Autumn Effect at Argenteuil and The Gare Saint-Lazare; Renoir, La Loge; Degas, After the Bath; Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril in the Entrance of the Moulin Rouge; Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, Wheatfield, with Cypresses; Gauguin, Nevermore; and Modigliani; Female Nude.

The exhibition illustrates the philanthropic approach of Samuel Courtauld and his passionate view of the role art plays in society. The creation in 1923 of the Courtauld Fund enabled the acquisition of 22 masterpieces of modern French art for the national collections in London, including Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières, which can no longer travel. The Fund helped promote French Impressionism in Britain at a time when it remained very controversial.

In 1932, a year after his wife’s death, Samuel Courtauld, of Art the initiative of the diplomat Viscount Lee of Fareham, founded the Courtauld Institute of Art, part of the University of London and devoted to teaching art history and conservation. That same year he donated 74 paintings and drawings, and his residence, Home House, built by Robert Adam between 1775 and 1777, to the Institute. The remainder of his collection was mostly bequeathed to the Institute after his death in 1947.

In 1989, the Courtauld Institute and Gallery moved to Sommerset House, former home of the Royal Academy of Arts. It is currently undergoing a major renovation project, called “Courtauld Connects”. The restoration of the celebrated “Great Room” is a key element of the project and will improve circulation between works of art, exhibition spaces and teaching areas as well as deliver the digitisation for public use of 3 million photographs, documents and archives.

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