European Museums and Their New Treasures

The Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts in Lausanne has recently received an unbelievable gift from an anonymous donor – a unique and rare sculpture by Auguste Rodin. At the same time, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is going to buy two portraits by Rembrandt from the art collection of the Rothschilds in Paris. France is indignant, but a sum of $185 million truly impresses! Let’s look inside the museums!

New home for Rodin’s bronze

The Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts in Lausanne has been gifted with a unique sculpture by Auguste Rodin depicting a man who struggles with a giant snake. The work, which is titled “The Man with Snake (L’Homme au Serpent)” (1887), has not been displayed to the public for over a century. As is known, this small bronze statuette (70cm tall and 55cm wide) was sold after the death of its original owner Antoni Roux in 1914, and since then it has not been demonstrated. Museum curators promise that it will never get to the market again. It’s interesting that “The Man with Snake” was conceived as part of an epic but unfinished masterpiece by Rodin, titled “The Gates of Hell” (1880 – 1890).

Antoni Roux, a collector from Marseilles, first saw the plaster of Rodin’s “L’Homme au Serpent” at the artist’s studio in 1885 during his visit to Paris. In a letter dated January 28, 1887, he wrote to the sculptor about his desire to buy this work cast in bronze for 2,000 francs. However, he put forward his own conditions: the artist could use this figure of the man in his following works but without the snake and with some modifications in the pose. Auguste Rodin accepted the conditions, which explains why the sculpture in Lausanne is considered an unusual and unique work of art. Next October, “The Man with Snake” will be on display at the Musée Rodin in Paris as part of the exhibition dedicated to Rodin’s “The Gates of Hell.”

Rembrandt goes to Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is now in the final stage of discussions to acquire two portraits by the Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn. Portraits of a merchant Marten Soolmans and his future wife Oopjen Coppit date from 1634. They were created as a pair of wedding portraits. According to history, Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit were Rembrandt’s neighbors. By that time, the artist was already well known in the city so the couple commissioned him to create their portraits. Today, these Rembrandt’s works are highly valued, not least because they are full size, which is quite rare for the artist.

In 1877, both portraits were bought by Baron Gustave de Rothschild, and since then they have not left France and have been rarely exhibited to the public. Thereby, the decision of the current owner of the paintings, Baron Eric de Rothschild, to sell the masterpieces abroad has caused a wave of indignation among the French. However, the Ministry of Culture has issued an official permit for their exportation. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam aims to pay €160 million ($185 million) for these works, making this purchase the most expensive ever made by the Dutch museum. Now, the Rijksmuseum is negotiating with financiers who should help with such an acquisition. Hopefully, soon we will have an opportunity to see these Rembrandt’s masterpieces with our own eyes!