Toulouse. Sold at auction for nearly €70,000, Gustave Le Gray’s painting was purchased by the Musée D’Orsay
A painting by Gustave Le Gray sold on Thursday November 17 at the Saint-Aubin auction house in Toulouse for €67,600 (including fees). The portrait of Madame GL comes from the property of the former President of the Republic Armand Fallières, in Mézin in Lot-et-Garonne. The State acquired it after using its right of pre-emption. The painting joins the collection of the Musée d’Orsay.
We knew Gustave Le Gray as a photographer, he had notably been the official photographer of the imperial family under the 2nd Empire. On the painting side, his work is more confidential. Few paintings have come down to us, only 6 have been attributed to him. New, the descendants wanted to put on sale the portrait of Madame GL, Palmira Madeline Gertrude Leonardi, the artist’s wife. His great-granddaughter contacted the study of Me Labarbe and Me Chabroux to sell several key pieces from the Château de Loupillon collection.
The portrait of Mme GL appeared between 30,000 and 50,000. Observers feared a new departure of French work abroad, but nothing happened as expected.
A bitter battle between buyers
In the auction room, there was a merciless battle between private investors and a foreign museum. At the hammer blow, the foreign museum won the sale for a total of €67,600 (costs included). Then a dramatic turn of events, when the painting was to leave the country, the representative of the Musée d’Orsay made use of his right of pre-emption. This is a prerogative reserved for the State which allows it to replace the purchaser after the end of the auction.
The painting will eventually join the collection of the Musée d’Orsay. The Labarbe auction house in Toulouse, which organized the auction, was successful in keeping the painting in France.