ChA­gAll to Be sold, gAllery Con­firms

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - TOM SPEARS

OT TAWA • The Na­tional Gallery of Canada has con­firmed it plans to buy Saint Jerome Hears the Trum­pet of the Last Judg­ment, painted in 1779 by Jacques-Louis David.

The gallery plans to fi­nance the pur­chase by sell­ing The Eif­fel Tower by Marc Cha­gall, but un­til Mon­day it had not con­firmed ru­mours that the David painting was what it wanted to buy.

The painting of Saint Jerome had been on dis­play in the Na­tional Gallery from 1995 to 2013, un­til the Musée de la Civil­i­sa­tion in Que­bec City re­quested its re­turn.

The painting came to Canada in the late 1800s. It has been in Que­bec City since about 1917 and was do­nated to the Cathe­dral-Basil­ica of Notre-Dame de Québec in 1938. The gallery said in an an­nounce­ment Mon­day that the own­ers of­fered it for sale to three Cana­dian mu­se­ums — Mon­treal Mu­seum of Fine Arts, the Musée na­tional des beaux-arts du Québec, and the Na­tional Gallery.

The Na­tional Gallery was in­ter­ested but couldn’t find pri­vate donors to fi­nance the pur­chase and did not want to use up its en­tire pur­chas­ing bud­get on one work.

As well, it said, “the gallery also learned from two for­eign mu­se­ums that they had been ap­proached to gauge their in­ter­est in ac­quir­ing the David. One of those mu­se­ums told us they were in­deed very in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing Saint Jerome and had the funds to do so. We then un­der­stood that the risk to Canada of los­ing this na­tional trea­sure was real, adding ur­gency to the mat­ter.”


That’s when it de­cided to sell the Cha­gall, which it has owned since 1956, “given the healthy mar­ket for works by Cha­gall.”

“Four months ago, The Eif­fel Tower was of­fered at fair mar­ket to more than 150 art mu­se­ums across Canada,” it said. There were no tak­ers, so the gallery de­cided to sell it at auc­tion.

It added that “Saint Jerome Hears the Trum­pet of the Last Judg­ment re­quires sig­nif­i­cant restora­tion. Our state-of-the-art con­ser­va­tion lab­o­ra­to­ries and our team of pic­ture re­stor­ers are su­perbly qual­i­fied to bring this na­tional trea­sure back to its for­mer glory.”

News of the po­ten­tial sale of the Cha­gall up­set sev­eral fans, with one on­line pe­ti­tion at gar­ner­ing 386 sig­na­tures from peo­ple who did not want the Na­tional Gallery to sell the Cha­gall work. Started by Toronto res­i­dent Natasha Abramova, the pe­ti­tion asks Min­is­ter of Cana­dian Her­itage Mélanie Joly to halt the sale.


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