Un musée révolutionnaire, le musée des Monuments français d’Alexandre Lenoir
Directed by Geneviève Bresc-Bautier and Béatrice de Chancel-Bardelot
If a cultivated person has heard his name, it is rather in a positive sense. Alexandre Lenoir (1761-1839) has the stature of a crusader who saved the art of the Ancient Regime from the excesses of the Revolution, saving statues and reliefs from the hammers of the vandals and protecting them in the musée des Monuments français. In the catalogue that accompanies an exhibition until 4 July 2016, the Louvre tells the story of its younger brother. Indeed it was created in 1795 in what today is the chapel of the école des Beaux-Arts in Paris and chronologically became the second national museum. It details the various phases, the architecture and the contents through paintings - that recall its surprising blue and red decoration –, engravings, letters, lists and appreciations (like that of Louis-Sébastien Mercier, charmed by the poetry of disorder). But this dense book also shows the man’s endearing complexity, whose knowledge was sometimes limited, whose vanity was invasive at times, whose interests were as varied as they were in disorder, whether it was Egyptology, the History of France, or painting on glass. The museum was closed in 1816 and its collections were scattered but the memory of things gone can sometimes be surprisingly lasting.
Review published in the newsletter #429 - from 5 May 2016 to 11 May 2016