A copper by Lubin Baugin preempted by the Louvre

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25/3/23 - Acquisition - Paris, Musée du Louvre - We were able to see the painting at the expert Éric Turquin’s, where it was presented before being sold in Toulouse last Thursday by SVV Fournié-Cortès. The work was unpublished, and according to the auctioneer who sold it before its pre-emption by the Louvre for €235,000 (excluding fees), it was found "in an attic". It is an oil on copper by Lubin Baugin representing Adam and Eve Mourning Abel (ill. 1), very yellow because of the old varnish but in a good state of conservation, which is not always the case for this artist.

1. Lubin Baugin (1610-1663)
Adam and Eve Mourning Abel (before restoration)
Oil on copper - 51 x 64 cm
Preempted by the Musée du Louvre
Photo: SVV Fournié & Cortès
See the image in its page

We are quite often critical of the acquisition policy of the Louvre’s Department of Paintings, but here, fortunately, we can only stress the relevance and interest of this purchase.
Firstly, because the work is of great quality, which will become clear after its restoration. Secondly, because the Parisian museum cannot satisfactorily show Lubin Baugin as a religious painter. It has two of his greatest masterpieces, but these are still lifes by the artist, somewhat atypical in his production, and their attribution has long been debated, even though it is certain. Another admirable painting belongs to him, but it was legitimately returned to Notre-Dame in 1959 from where it came (ill. 2), and we can hope to see it again soon, after the reopening of the building. Only a small panel and a canvas in poor condition (this is a painting on wood transposed onto canvas) can be shown there, and we do not recall ever having seen the latter, which is kept in storage.

2. Lubin Baugin (1610-1663)
The Dead Christ on the Virgin’s Lap
Oil on canvas - 220 x 145 cm
Paris, Notre-Dame Cathedral
Photo: RMN-GP/S. Maréchalle
See the image in its page
3. Lubin Baugin (1610-1663)
Saint Jerome
Oil on copper - 48.3 x 34.7 cm
Caen, Museum of Fine Arts
Photo: Wikimedia (public domain)
See the image in its page

The painting purchased by the Louvre, which seems to date from the end of his career, has rightly been compared to the Saint Jerome (ill. 3), also on copper, a rare medium in his production, in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Caen. It should also be noted that the way in which the artist represents the body of Abel, in a very serpentine position that can also be compared to the figure of Christ in the painting in Notre-Dame (ill. 2) or in The dead Christ mourned by the angels in Orléans - perhaps his most beautiful known religious painting - testifies, at a time that is still quite advanced in the 17th century, to the influence of Baugin’s training in the wake of the Fontainebleau school.

It is to be hoped that once it has been restored, we will be able to admire this work quickly in the galleries, as some of the Louvre’s acquisitions sometimes take a long time to be presented to the public.

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