Bonnard, Vuillard, Redon… A couple of american collectors, Spencer and Marlene Hays, will give France its very important collection, which will join the musée d’orsay to the death of these two lovers of art.
“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. It is evaluated 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 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. A first donation of 187 works, estimated at 173 million euros, will be formalized on Saturday night at the Elysée palace in the presence of François Hollande. It comprises a total of 69 works by the current nabi (Bonnard, Vuillard, Maurice Denis).
It will be presented in a dedicated space of approximately 900 square meters.
self-taught lover of Paris
original texan, the wealthy business man and his wife, aged 80 years and been married for 60, are self-taught in art history, lovers of Paris and the French painting of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
for more than thirty years, they have built a collection including around painters, nabis they have unveiled in 2013 at the museum of Orsay in the framework of an exhibition.
The 187 works (paintings, paper, sculpture) data Saturday, 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 19th century. Some of the 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 passion for the nabis
Nothing predestined Spencer Hays, which has multiple activities (direct sale of books, tailor-made…), to become a collector. In 2013, he explained to the AFP :
“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. Both of us were originally very modest.”
One day, his wife suggested he buy a painting of a Dutch painter of the 17th, 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 works of the late 19th. It then 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 Spencer Hays :
“The nabis paint family, friends, daily life. And this is what we appreciate.”
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.
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