“This gift exceptional by its size and its consistency is the most important French museums have received from a foreign donor since 1945″, said the ministry of Culture. Aged 80 years and been married for 60 years, Spencer and Marlene Hays will receive this Saturday, October 22, from the hands of president François Hollande, the insignia of commander of the Legion of honor “for their past life in the service of art and the beautiful”, the ministry said.
the 600 works
The collection is valued at 350 million euros currently but it continues to enrich itself, he said. The collection of the couple Hays includes some 600 works from the second half of the Nineteenth century and the first half of the Twentieth century.
The couple Hays during the exhibition of their collection in 2013 (here in the company of the then minister of culture, Aurélie Filippetti).
© FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP
A first donation of 187 works, estimated at 173 million euros, will be formalized tonight October 22, at the Elysée palace in the presence of the president of the Republic. It comprises a total of 69 works of the current nabi (Bonnard, Vuillard, Maurice Denis).
This donation crowns the patient efforts of Guy Cogeval, president of Orsay museum that knows since 2001 the pair with which it shares the taste of the painters nabis. The assistance of the minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay has been “invaluable” to finalize the donation, stressed Friday Guy Cogeval.
A couple of collectors of self-taught
original texan, the wealthy business man and his wife are self-taught in art history, lovers of Paris and the French painting of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries.
Nothing is predestined Spencer Hays, which has multiple activities (direct sale of books, tailor-made…), to become a collector. “As a child, I lived in Texas, in a town where there was neither art nor museum. I met my wife Marlene before entering the university. We were both come from very modest”, had entrusted the business man to the AFP in 2013. He started to sell books door-to-door in Nashville (Tennessee).
One day, his wife suggested he buy a painting of a Dutch painter of the Xvii century, to decorate their home in Nashville, tn. Spencer Hays, a little surprised, agrees. The couple began to buy the american art before starting in the 1980s in the French music of the late Nineteenth. He falls under the spell of the nabis (“prophets” in Hebrew), a group of artists formed in 1888, which sought to locate the “sacred” nature of the item “The nabis paint family, friends, daily life. And this is what we appreciate”, explained Spencer Hays.
The couple, who has children and grandchildren, lives in the middle of works of art in a large apartment in New York. It is also built in Nashville, the replica of a mansion in the rue de Grenelle in Paris.
Creation of a dedicated space at the Musée d’orsay
Spencer and Marlene Hays have placed as a condition of their donation for their collection, which has its own coherence, is presented in a dedicated space. “We’re going to move the library and the documentation of the museum,” which will join the annex building belonging to the State, ” said Guy Cogeval journalists. The collection will have about 900 m2.
first, there is a collection around the painters, nabis that the couple Hays was unveiled in 2013 at the museum of Orsay in the framework of an exhibition. The 187 works (paintings, paper, sculpture) data on 22 October, are those who were exposed : 23 Vuillard, 12 Bonnard, 4 Maurice Denis. In addition to the nabis, there are also works of Odilon Redon, Edgar Degas, Gustave Caillebotte, Camille Corot, Aristide Maillol, Amedeo Modigliani, Albert Marquet…
The collection of the Hays in perfect resonance with the Orsay museum dedicated to the Nineteenth century. Some works are even complementary in the collections of Orsay : the Hays have the sixth panel of the “public Gardens” by Vuillard, a decoration of which the museum preserves five panels on a total of nine. A very nice smokescreen for something oriental of Pierre Bonnard at the age of 22 years is also given. Panels by Maurice Denis, who had gone to Japan, have been bought by Hays and will find a day in Paris.