Another coup for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

By Michael Raffety


Thursday the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (de Young and Legion of Honor) announced a deal with the Musée de Louvre in Paris. They are going to exchange art, including major exhibitions over the next five years.

This is an outcome of work done by John Buchanan, the late FAMSF director, and Diane Wilsey, president of the museums board of trustees. The partnership of this duo scooped up block buster exhibits from museums in Paris, Dijon and Vienna — Impressionsism, Post-Impressionism, Picasso, Venetian art, the Mourners statues — as these museums closed for renovations. And, of course, there was the impressive Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier.

“Under terms of the agreement, the Louvre and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which comprises the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum, will work together to identify art works to be made available for short- or long-term loans from their respective collections. The loans and exhibitions would take the form of antiquities, paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, prints, drawings, and textiles,’’ says the accord.

“Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette, opening Saturday, Nov. 17, is the first important step of this collaboration,’’ Louvre Director Henri Loyrette said.

Another major exhibition from the Louvre is expected to open in San Francisco no later than 2016–2017, according to FAMSF.

If I got to choose, my first pick would be the statues of the Three Graces. The one from the Louvre is in a hall of statues which are of varying antiquity. This one is a Roman copy of a Greek statue and it was originally found in the Villa Cornovaglia in Rome. There are several other Three Graces statues by different sculptors throughout the Louvre.

The theme of Three Graces is one of the most popular and has been done by dozens if not hundreds of different sculptors. My favorites are the 1st century B.C. wall plaque in the Louvre, the Roman copy in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the one by Antonio Canova that I’ve only seen pictures of because I haven’t been to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg yet. I like every Canova I’ve seen, especially the one of Pauline Bonaparte in the Villa Borghese in Rome. The New York Metropolitan has quite a collection of Canovas. Botticelli and Rafael have painted the Three Graces. And they appear in wall paintings and mosaics from Pompeii.

The Louvre has a pretty good collection of Rembrandts. That would be my second choice, especially his self-portraits and the stunningly moody Bathsheba at Her Bath.

My third choice would be Caravaggio. The best of the three in the Louvre is the Fortune Teller.

• • •

Besides reporting on the late Albert Hazbun’s impromptu addresses to the EID board regarding the Cost of Service Study and other issues, I had different encounters with Albert. Whenever I wrote an editorial about Israel and Palestine he would write a letter to the editor, call me and a couple of times took me out to lunch to made sure I heard the Palestinian viewpoint of the issues. He never harangued me, but was gentle and always an interesting lunch companion. I was always impressed that he was a Knight Ccommander of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. To an Episcopalian that seemed pretty high level to me.

Of course his biggest contribution to El Dorado County and the state was the dual plumbed system of recycled water for landscaping. That and his long history of volunteer advisory work for EID is why the district dedicated a plaque to him in its lobby.


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