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AXA Group Gives Major Ingres Portrait to the Louvre

Thanks to the patronage of a major international corporation, the Musée de Louvre, Paris, has acquired an important work by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). The painting, Portrait de Ferdinand-Philippe de Bourbon-Orléans, duc d’Orléans, 1842, was purchased at a reported €11 million ($13 million) for the Louvre by the AXA Group, Paris. At auction, works by Ingres

PARIS—Thanks to the patronage of a major international corporation, the Musée de Louvre, Paris, has acquired an important work by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). The painting, Portrait de Ferdinand-Philippe de Bourbon-Orléans, duc d’Orléans, 1842, was purchased at a reported €11 million ($13 million) for the Louvre by the AXA Group, Paris. At auction, works by Ingres have sold for as much as $2.4 million.

The painting of this political figure, which is one of the artist’s best-known portraits, was briefly displayed in the museum’s gallery of French paintings before being included in the Louvre’s current exhibition “Ingres 1780-1867” (Feb. 24-May 15).

Acting on behalf of the Louvre, a national institution, the French government publicly welcomed acquisition of the painting, which is viewed as a national treasure. In accepting the gift, French culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres lauded AXA for its philanthropic support. He hailed the Ingres work as “a masterpiece” and “one of the most accomplished portraits of 19th-century painting.”

The minister also noted that the gift had been made possible by recent tax incentives granted under the terms of the French Philanthropy Act of Aug. 1, 2003. The new provisions, which seek to encourage gift-giving through corporate philanthropy, are intended to make “donations to public collections highly favorable.”

“AXA is committed to preserving artistic patrimony, as well as supporting projects that allow development of new techniques for the restoration and conservation of artworks,” said AXA spokeswoman Clara Rodrigo. The company has long been an important patron of the museum, having already acquired works for the Louvre in the past. In 2004, AXA purchased a sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon entitled La Vestale, 1787; and in 2003 the firm purchased two drawings by Rosso Fiorentino—Saint Roch distribuant son héritage, 1530, and La visitation, circa 1540.

This year the AXA Group also acquired an important piece of primitive art—a Dogon statue dating from the 10th/11th centuries—for the Quai Branly museum slated to open in Paris this spring near the Eiffel Tower.

Recently the Louvre announced that the paper company Arjo Wiggins had helped the museum acquire another Ingres drawing, Portrait de Charles Marcotte d’Argenteuil, 1811, done in graphite pencil. That drawing is among those on display at the Louvre’s Ingres exhibition.

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