Since its office opened in 2004, AFL has made grants of more than $40 million to the museum, including the donation of a number of important works of art. Following is a list of current fundraising projects.
Restoration of Cimabue’s La Maestà
Harry and Linda Fath, longtime donors from Cincinnati, have generously sponsored the restoration of “The Madonna and Child in Majesty, Surrounded by Angels” by the great Cimabue, master of the Italian Byzantine. Conservation of this 13th-century altarpiece painting of immense proportions, also known as “La Maestà,” is being overseen by Thomas Bohl, curator of 13th – 16th Italian paintings in the Department of Paintings, in association with L’Atelier Séraphin.
For many experts, the representation of space, body and light in this artwork signals the birth of modern painting. Cimabue led the artistic movement in late 12th-century Tuscany that sought to renew the pictorial vocabulary and break with the rigidity of Byzantine art. Cimabue’s increased sense of humanity led the way for early Italian Renaissance artists such as Giotto.
The Faths are members of AFL’s International Council and have a long history of supporting the Louvre. First engaged by former President-Director of the Louvre, Henri Loyrette, with whom they remain close, the couple has made multiple grants to AFL, benefitting the renovation of galleries, the restoration of the Arc du Carrousel and the trilingual translation of wall labels and text panels to aid the Louvre’s international visitors.
The Choiseul Snuffbox
The Choiseul Snuffbox is a true masterpiece and one of the most famous french 18th century objects in the world. This year, the Louvre’s “Tous Mécènes” crowdfunding campaign raised more than 1.2 million euros from over 5000 donors the world over, including the American Friends of the Louvre, toward the total 3,9 million sum required to acquire this national treasure.
The paragon of goldsmithery, the Choiseul Snuffbox is painted on its six sides with miniatures of unrivaled quality. Held in the palm of one’s hand, we observe a male character in his Parisian hotel; in his office in Versailles and in the Grand Gallery of the Louvre.
The man portrayed is the Duc de Choiseul, powerful minister of Louis XV, and each vignette is a glimpse into his day: getting dressed, working alone, in conversation with his clerks, or contemplating his painting collections.
Louis-Nicolas Van Blarenberghe, who was de Choiseul’s battle painter, created the snuffbox from 1770 to 1771, at the time of the Minister’s brutal disgrace and exile from the Court, but the circumstances of the commission remain a mystery. Was it a personal commission from Choiseul? The image of a lost happiness? A comforting gift from his friends?
The Choiseul Snuffbox is currently on view in the Sully Wing, Room 609.
Sculpture Conservation in the Tuileries Garden
The Louvre Museum oversees the care and conservation of the Tuileries Garden, which was once the private recreational grounds of French monarchs. Created in the 16th century by Catherine de Medici and re-designed by Andre le Nôtre in the 17th century, the footprint of the extensive garden remains largely intact. Over the years, the Tuileries Garden’s beauty has been enhanced by the addition of monumental sculptures throughout the grounds, with works by famous sculptors from Auguste Rodin to Jean Dubuffet, Giuseppe Penone, Aristide Maillol, Louise Bourgeois and more.
Today the Tuileries Garden is the largest public park in all of Paris. The aggregate foot traffic has prompted the Louvre to undertake a major improvement project, to which American Friends of the Louvre has made several important donations. American Jeweler David Yurman has ensured the conservation of four of the twelve Neoclassical sculptures around the Grand Basin of the Jardin des Tuileries: Thésée combattant le Minotaure by Etienne Jules Ramey, Périclès distribuant des couronnes aux artistes by Jean Baptiste Joseph Debay, Cincinnatus by Denis Foyatier and Alexandre combattant by Charles-Antoine Nanteuil-Lebœuf. All four sculptures are undergoing conservation treatment and molds and reproductions are being created of each. The replicas will be installed around the Grand Basin while the original Ramey statue will be exhibited in the Louvre’s Cour Puget. AFL Board Member Joan Kahn has guaranteed the restoration of Julien Roux’s La Comédie, another one of the twelve statues in the garden, while Board Member Patrick Gerschel’s contribution will secure the conservation and restoration of four sculptures by Auguste Cain, located at the northern and eastern main entrances to the Tuileries, off the Rue de Rivoli and the Avenue du Général Lemonnier, respectively. These depict wildlife vignettes and were displayed at the Paris Salon, as well as other important international art biennials following their creation.
WWII Era Scholarship and Research of Artwork Restitution
Judy and Peter Kovler have made a generous grant supporting the work of Art Historian Emmanuelle Polack. She is tasked with coordinating the Musée du Louvre’s restitution research on artworks acquired by the museum during the Nazi Occupation from 1940-1944. The Kovlers are longtime donors to the Louvre Endowment.
Acting as a liaison between the Louvre’s curators and external specialists, Polack studies works of art identified as ‘MNR’ or « Musées Nationaux Récupération, » – which were stolen from their rightful owners during the Nazi occupation – and researches their provenance. These artworks are registered in a separate ledger from the museum’s national collections and are held for safekeeping by the Louvre with the hope of their eventual restitution to the heirs of the original owners.
The grant from the Judy and Peter Blum Kovler Foundation will allow the Louvre to employ Juliette Vermersch, who will serve as an assistant to Ms. Pollack for a period of six months. Ms. Vermersch holds a Double master’s degree in art history and law from the Université Paris Panthéon-Assas. Provenance scholarship requires keeping up with the latest relevant publications. The grant will also support the creation of the “Judy and Peter Kovler Archive,” a library, which will make accessible to Polack and her team the growing number of books being published on artworks looted during the Second World War. The Kovlers’ gift enhances the Louvre’s capacity to honor the memory of the Nazi’s victims.
General Inventory of Italian Drawings: Volume XII
The Mark Pigott Lecture and Research Fund was established in 2010 by Mark C. Pigott, KBE and KStJ to support scholarly initiatives at the Louvre. This year the fund is responsible for making possible the publication of Volume XII of the General Inventory of Italian Drawings. This tome features an important selection of works from the Louvre’s Drawings and Prints collection by sixteenth-century Bolognese artists.
This grouping of works on paper is an unparalleled resource for scholars researching the Cinquecento artists who created the altarpieces and murals of Bologna before the arrival of the Carracci. The inventory published by the Mark Pigott Lecture and Research Fund contains 44 plates from artists from or working in Bologna c. 1500 – 1580, such as Amico Aspertini, Bagnacavallo, Peregrino da Cesena, Francesco Francia, Innocenzo da Imola, Biagio Pupini Marcantonio Raimondi, and Girolamo da Treviso. These artists were inspired by classical antiquity and by the master Raphael. Their work evolved a new style, characterized by the intense play of light and the beginnings of what would come to be known as chiaroscuro.
The catalogue accompanied an exhibition on the same subject, which was held in the Hall Napoléon from May 25 to August 10, 2022 and completes the volume by Catherine Loisel, published in 2013 (Musée du Louvre, Inventory of Italian Drawings: Bolognese drawings of the 17th century, 2013), on Bolognese drawings of the subsequent century.
This new five-year initiative has been created through the generosity of AFL board member, Lionel Sauvage, his wife Ariane and their children. The LA residency allows a staff member from the Louvre to spend a month in Los Angeles studying a subject of his or her choosing, utilizing the resources of the Getty and other museums throughout California. The donors will provide a stipend and housing for the visiting researchers during their stay.
GRoW @ Annenberg Fund
Advisory Committee members and longtime donors Regina and Gregory Annenberg Weingarten have established a fund at the Louvre Endowment. Gregory is a Vice President and Director of the Annenberg Foundation and founder of GRoW @ Annenberg, a philanthropic global initiative dedicated to supporting humanitarian efforts, the environment, the arts, education, and civic and cultural life. The GRoW @ Annenberg Fund will provide ongoing revenues to the Louvre for projects related to the museum’s collections, its accessibility and outreach programs and for the Louvre Palace and Tuileries Garden.