Artworks on Loan From the Louvre Destroyed in Fire on a French Island

It’s been a bad month for the Louvre.

President of Manche council, Philippe Bas (third from L) visits the island of Tahitou in the wake of the fire. Photo courtesy @MancheCD50 via Facebook.

A fire broke out on the French island of Tatihou, located off the Normandy coast, on Tuesday July 18, causing significant damage to 200 works from the island’s Maritime Museum collection.

Among the casualties were three paintings on long-term loan from the Louvre—another blow to the Paris institution just weeks after the museum was hit by violent storms that damaged two works by Poussin and a Jean-François de Troy.

According to the Manche county council, the fire was most likely caused by lightning. Fifty-one firefighters tackled the blaze, which struck the museum’s 150 square-meter reserve building and destroyed one wing entirely.

Alexandre Casati’s 19th-century work titled La Vente du Poisson, as well as two anonymous paintings from 17th-century Dutch masters on loan from the Louvre were destroyed.

Other material damage was significant, with casualties including Bronze Age furniture, objects from the 1692 wrecks from the naval battle of La Hogue, as well as paintings from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Of the 206 works in the reserve, 182 were destroyed, according to the inventory count, which valued the lost works at more than €1 million ($1.2 million).

Alain Talon, director of heritage and museums of the Manche, quoted in Ouest France, estimated the anonymous paintings to be worth €15,000 each ($17,000), and the Casati work at €10,000 ($12,000).

A spokesperson for the Louvre told artnet News, “The Louvre expresses its most deep solidarity with the Tatihou museum teams and the Manche council after this serious fire.”

“The three Louvre paintings in deposit in this museum have unfortunately been destroyed in the fire. These were two naval scenes (one by an anonymous painter from the Netherlands, the other by Alexandre Casati) and a still life (by an anonymous painter from the South Netherlands),” they added.

The president of the council, Philippe Bas, visited the scene on Friday, July 21, in order to meet the volunteers who helped firefighters on the evening of the disaster to evacuate some of the works stored in the building.

See some of the photos of the damage below:

Photo courtesy @MancheCD50 via Facebook.

Photo courtesy @MancheCD50 via Facebook.

Alain Talon addresses the press. Photo courtesy @MancheCD50 via Facebook.

Photo courtesy @MancheCD50 via Facebook.


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