The Petit Palais reopens on 16 June with a vast panorama of French drawing
The museum welcomes the public again this Tuesday with a new exhibition, “The Force of Drawing”, which reveals marvels of French art.
A museum that reopens is beautiful, but a new exhibition is rare and even unique these days. When you enter the rooms of the Petit Palais (Paris VIII), which houses “La Force du dessin, chefs-d’œuvre de la collection Prat”, from this Tuesday, you can feel the adrenaline that we missed so much.
Louis-Antoine Prat, who has built up this collection over more than forty-five years with his wife Véronique, is waiting for us with a mask, too. When it’s time to say goodbye, he will ask us to take it off briefly “to get to know the face of the person we’re talking to”. Soft and strange atmosphere among the nearly 200 wonderful leaves – as the drawings are called – from his collection of French art, from Poussin to Toulouse-Lautrec and Cézanne, which have been waiting for us since mid-March.” We finished the hanging on the day of the confinement…” remembers the collector. The exhibition, which was to end on July 17, will finally run until October 4. The couple, who live on the other side of the Seine, will spend a few months of these 184 strokes of genius, from 1580 to 1900.
The couple with a thousand drawings
“Our collection was born from the sale of a family house in Nice. Our first purchases started with this money. At the time, drawings were cheaper than paintings. We both enrolled at the Ecole du Louvre, we were crazy about art.And we don’t have children, which makes us freer. Our collection will one day go to a public museum,” says the dashing septuagenarian. The Prat family has already donated to the Louvre, during a previous exhibition in this museum in 1995, and again this time to the Petit Palais.
They owned as many as a thousand drawings, but over time, the couple sold a lot to buy masterpieces, like this exceptional Watteau depicting a sad young woman and her baby, who seems to be watching us from her cradle, with a rare humanity.” We sold over a hundred drawings to get this one,” says this professional collector, who has worked extensively as a project manager all his life with the drawing experts at the Louvre.
Pencil, charcoal, sanguine, pastels, inks – including those of Victor Hugo, a very great draftsman, better than Baudelaire who is also present in the exhibition as a curiosity with two portraits -: all the most varied techniques illustrate the great coherence of one eye, or rather of four, those of the fusional couple. Never a disagreement. And the same patience to unearth the very rare: “There are only 35 drawings by Poussin in private hands in the world. We have a few of them…”.