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The Musée d’Orsay in Paris has acquired a major Impressionist painting by Gustave Caillebotte thanks to luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, which paid €43m ($46.7m) for the work. The canvas, Partie de Bateau (Boating Party, around 1877-78), went on display at the Paris museum today (30 January). The €43m acquisition was confirmed by a museum spokesperson. The Musée d’Orsay’s annual acquisitions budget meanwhile platforms at around €3m, according to Le Monde.
According to The Washington Post, the painting was sold by Caillebotte’s descendants and was one of the last Impressionist masterpieces still in private hands, said Jean-Paul Claverie, an adviser to collector and LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault.
According to a statement from the French ministry of culture, the work will be shown at several locations across France next year to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Impressionism (the first Impressionist exhibition opened in 1874 at 35 Boulevard des Capucines in Paris).
“Impressionist masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay collection will also be shown in around 20 museums across French territory,” adds the ministry. Meanwhile, a major Caillebotte exhibition is planned for autumn 2024 at the Musée d’Orsay.
The work was classified as a “national treasure” by the former French culture minister Franck Riester in 2020. The current culture minister, Rima Abdul Malak, says in a statement that “thanks to the patronage of LVMH, I am delighted that this masterpiece enriches our heritage and will be shown in several towns across France. It is the first time that such an initiative has been organised for a national treasure.”
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The Musée d’Orsay website states that Boating Party shows an unidentified man boating on the Yerres river that flows near a holiday property owned by the Caillebotte family in south-east Paris. “The painter presents an ‘immersive’ framing [technique] that places the viewer in the boat, seeking to abolish the distance between the space of the painting and that of the viewer,” adds the statement.