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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

The gift of a Douanier Rousseau painting to a French museum is a " fake "

The gift was too good to be honest.

The director of the Museum of Naive Arts and Unique Arts of Laval, revealed on April 8 that landscape with fisherman by Douanier Rousseau (1844-1910) and donated by an anonymous donor in August 2017 is a forgery. This is confirmed by an analysis made by Center for Research and Restoration of Museums in France .

In a letter accompanying the work, the donor justified his gesture: "I was disappointed by the fact that the museum only has three works by Henri Rousseau, a native of Laval. I am an old man and I have no heirs, so I decided to offer the landscape with fisherman to your museum. " When it was received, the donation sparked enthusiasm and mistrust. “I have not seen anything like this in my career, such an exceptional gift," said Antoinette Le Falher, director of the Laval Museum. The director was also anxious to obtain "information on the history of this painting: where does it come from, what collection, was it bought in the gallery, is it gone through the art market? ».

Labels on the reverse of the work indicated that the painting had passed through the Charpentier Gallery and the AM Reitinger Gallery. In October 2017, Antoinette le Falher began researching their archives. "This work has never been exhibited in these galleries," was her conclusion.

The painting was then analyzed by the Research and Restoration Center of the Museums of France. "The signature contains titanium white, which was marketed only a few years after the death of Douanier Rousseau," say the experts, who also detected false cracks on the canvas.

This is the second time that the Musée de Laval receives a fake Douanier Rousseau. In 1970, the institution had exposed the Harvest of the Castle until it turns out to be also a counterfeit.

Radio France Bleue reportage

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