Transcription of the speech of the Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, on the occasion of the announcement of the entry into the national collections of the masterpiece of the painter Gustave Caillebotte “Party of the Boat”, obtained thanks to the patronage exclusive to LVMH
Dear Sir Jean-Paul Claverie, dear Christophe Leribault, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
An incredible emotion is in front of this painting. I saw him in the reserves when he came here. But it’s a completely different dimension to see it in museum spaces because the public can discover it. We know to what extent the collective imagination was marked and shaped by the paintings of the Impressionists. It’s in all our school books, postcards, documentaries, it’s really part of our national narrative. All these embodied emotions shape our representations. In France and beyond, I myself lived in New York, impressionism has not ceased to be very important.
Impressionism, before becoming a great popular success, was a radical artistic movement, born in France, that brought a new understanding of light, a new vision of human society, that changed the way of expressing the sensitive, our presence in the world, liberating ourselves. from old codes.
The beginnings were difficult, the novelty shocked, was ridiculed, the success that followed exceeded all expectations. The history of Impressionism is also a good lesson in perseverance.
As you said, dear Christophe, this success would not have been possible without Gustave Caillebotte. Because he supported his artist friends, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, through his purchases, who relied on his support in times of doubt and difficulty. Then through the legacy he made to the Nation. Very important, founding gesture, which led other collectors, Moreau-Nélaton, Depeaux, Personnaz to do the same in the first half of the 20th century. To these great liberalities we now owe to the French museums the finest Impressionist collections in the world. And, of course, Caillebotte also had talent as a painter, who at home competed with horticulturist and naval architect, painter of modern life so perfectly sums up the painting we have discovered.
For all these reasons, it is now very important to put Gustave Caillebotte back in the spotlight. I also want to emphasize that in the last fifteen years, we can be happy that France is a very dynamic place of research and excellence for Impressionism: exhibitions, publications, new places of reference such as the museum Impressionism in Giverny , and even a festival that is about to become the fifth edition, Impressionist Normandy, to name just a few examples. France produces and exports the best Impressionist exhibitions, as we saw together, dear Christophe, at the Louvre Abu Dhabi recently. For the five years of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Musée d’Orsay has lent a hundred masterpieces and the exhibition is completely specialized.
So it is not surprising that the greatest museum in the world competes to attract the best works, and especially in recent years, the works of Gustave Caillebotte. that’s it boat partyone of his last masterpieces in private hands, preserved by direct descent into the artist’s family, is among the most coveted.
So we are celebrating a great achievement today: being able to preserve the masterpiece of French heritage. And more, the ability to keep it in a national museum, to make it a public good, a common good. This is what the law allows. Since the “National Treasury” system in 1992, 266 measures to refuse an export certificate regarding a job or a group of goods have been issued. Once the order is published in the Official Journal, the 30-month countdown begins. This is the maximum period during which work can be maintained within our borders and during which the State can make an offer to take over at the market price. Imagine, this 30-month countdown is every time a certain dose of stress but also of mobilization and commitment for a large number of agents, from the Ministry of Culture, within the museums, from to central services. I also want to salute them because they are all helping us to cope with these trials. Success is not always at the end of the road, but in 30 years, at least 171 national treasures have been preserved on French soil thanks to this device. I think it is important to remember this with the difficulties that the country has gone through in these three decades, and when we know the height reached, in the same period, by the art market, everyone can measure that it is, both, a quite remarkable performance.
This achievement that we celebrate today is that this work has entered the public heritage. A private treasure becomes a public treasure, our common good. I see here a perfect continuation of everything Gustave Caillebotte did to make Impressionism as accessible as possible and to anchor it in France. As in 1894, during the legacy of Caillebotte, this was only possible through the meeting of two testaments, of the State and of a patron. If the boat party remains in France, and includes the collections of the Musée d’Orsay, it is thanks to the mechanism of the “National Treasury”, which is allowed by the State, but also, and without it we would not be gathered here today, thanks to the generous patronage of LVMH.
I really want to sincerely thank Bernard Arnaud and especially Jean-Paul Claverie, who is the careful man behind this whole venture, but whose finesse, commitment, determination and passion for art and heritage are well known. A big thank you again dear Jean-Paul.
France is known and recognized around the world for its museums: it is important for us to continue to enrich the collections of the Musée d’Orsay in order to remain attractive to the global cultural scene and to give opportunities to our neighbors citizens to discover new extraordinary works.
The boat party is now, and forever, hanging on the picture rail of a French museum. But it would not be justice to the rower of Caillebotte to condemn him to inaction… So I insisted, and Christophe Leribault and I talked a lot, that, for the first time, this “National Treasure” could benefit from roaming and sail this boat to another destination. This “National Treasure” is no longer a private treasure but a public good, we want it to benefit other museums, so that it can be seen in other cities in France. This is why the Musée d’Orsay will work with some of its colleagues to organize a tour with several stops in France. And in one year, it is time to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition held in April and May 1874, at 35 boulevard des Capucines at that time. It will be an important anniversary that will not be overlooked with a major exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay and exceptional loans to more than 20 French cities.
And finally a big Caillebotte retrospective in September 2024 here, which will travel to the United States but Christophe will be able to detail it later.
I really want to insist on this national ambition to show this painting elsewhere even though the Orsay already receives French people from all over the territory and tourists from all over the world, but it is important that the work can travel.
As part of the year Impressionism, for the 150th anniversary, we will also have this loan policy that the Musée d’Orsay is already building with a certain number of partner museums, almost twenty normally, so that the masterpieces of Impressionism can also go around anywhere in our country. There you are, this common cause, mentioned by Jean-Paul Claverie, that brings us together today. It is the best wishes of the public sector combined with the best wishes of the private sector to enrich our heritage so that these masterpieces can be passed down from generation to generation. Thank you for this piece of eternity, thank you.