The time between the two French revolutions of 1830 and 1848 is commonly referred to as the July Monarchy. The reign of Louis-Philippe I, nicknamed the ‘bourgeois King’, was characterised by profound political and social changes. It was in this context that the Luxembourg-born banker Jean-Pierre Pescatore decided to establish himself in Paris. In 1839, he moved to an up-and-coming area of the city popular with wealthy bourgeois families and artists, and soon afterwards began collecting art.

Throughout the 19th century collecting played an important role in the public life of the rising bourgeois classes. In 1844, Pescatore bought La Celle Saint-Cloud, a castle on the outskirts of Paris, and subsequently started decorating his new property with works of art from his growing collecting, which comprised mainly contemporary painting. Besides artists’ studios and auctions of private (and often aristocratic) collections, the annual Salon de Paris was the main gathering place for art lovers, where the latest artistic trends could be observed.

The exhibition Art at Any Cost focuses on the figure of Jean-Pierre Pescatore as a typical example of a 19th-century bourgeois collector. While offering a survey of French 19th-century painting, it also sheds light on the art market of that era. To this effect, the artworks from the Pescatore Collection will be complemented by important works on loan from major collections such as the Musée Carnavalet, the Petit Palais and the Louvre. A selection of works by major artists, among which Gustave Courbet, Eugène Delacroix et Jean-François Millet, will contribute to illustrate the various strands of painting in the 19th century, from Orientalism and history painting to the Barbizon School. The survey will be rounded off with a selection of sculptures from the Pescatore Collection.

The last part of the exhibition aims to recreate Jean-Pierre Pescatore’s social environment. A wealthy banker, he was not only interested in collecting art but also indulged into other (costly) pastimes such as growing orchids and collecting books for his extensive library. While these activities were intended to reflect his social status, Pescatore was also a patron of the arts, as witness his foundation and the donation of his collection to his native town Luxembourg, which today sheds a new light on this precious legacy.

Sponsored by ING Luxembourg


18 November > 5 May 2012