The Louvre Abu Dhabi has had a busy pandemic year, making 27 new acquisitions including the purchase of a rare Georges de la Tour painting and a poignant work by Marc Chagall.
The Cologne auction house Lempertz revealed that this past December, the museum bought De La Tour’s La Fillette au braisier (Girl Blowing on a Braizer) for a record €4.3 million with fees ($5 million), making it the priciest work sold at auction in Germany in the Old Masters category. It also had the highest hammer price in Germany for 2020.
“Our universal museum is proud to see such a strong collection taking shape, despite the background challenges of our times,” Louvre Abu Dhabi director Manuel Rabate told the United Arab Emirate newspaper The National.
The chiaroscuro scene by De la Tour, which is dated between 1646 and 1648, shows a young woman leaning over a lit brazier, and was formerly owned by the late German airline owner Hinrich Bischoff, who purchased the work in 1975.
The museum also bought Chagall’s Entre chien et loup (Between Darkness and Light), which depicts two figures merging in a flash of color on an otherwise drab street. The work, made in 1943, speaks to death, destruction, and displacement brought on by World War II. The French-Russian artist of Belarusian Jewish descent finished the painting after moving to New York, and one of the figures appears to be a painter holding a palette.
“Every artwork entering Louvre Abu Dhabi as a new acquisition is selected as a contribution to the building of a semi-permanent display and a national collection,” Souraya Noujaim, scientific, curatorial and collections management director, said in a statement.
Other acquisitions this past year include another de La Tour and two bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Monument of Victor Hugo and The Call to Arms.
The museum has also recently borrowed 18 works from the Centre Pompidou in Paris that may go on display in the coming year, including Henri Matisse’s L’Algerienne (Algerian Woman), a portrait from 1901; an Alberto Giacometti portrait of a prostitute known as Caroline; and Francis Bacon’s Portrait of Michel Leiris.
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