At musée de la Chasse, Country Life takes over

The paintings are shown in horse stalls. Here Alfred James Munnings, The race at Belvoir Castle, 1920-1921

The new exhibition at Musée de la Chasse will again be a hit: “Country Life”, 41 chefs d’oeuvre from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Paul Mellon collection, is beautifully set in a decor of horse stables perfectly manicured, an idea based on Mellon’s Oak Spring stables, which came from Antoine Platteau, head of decors for Hermès. Only fifty visitors could enter the room at one time so the museum was pretty packed on opening night but Claude d’Anthenaise, the director, was there to chat to everyone. And in the 18 th century rooms,  the sculpture in glass of a deer, by Japanese artist Kohei Nawa, gave a little more electricity to the show.

Theodore Géricault, Jockey on a race horse, 1821-22, © The Paul Mellon Collection, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Hotel de Mongelas is a pretty 18 th century house in the Marais and has become over the years a great meeting place for hunters in its Club de la Chasse but also a trendy spot for art lovers in the classical rooms of the museum. Every season, contemporary art comes and energizes the lovely Versailles floors and wood panelings of this ultra refined house. Japanese sculptor Kohei Nawa seems to have taken Paris by storm with his golden statue under the Pyramid of the Louvre, its installation at Fondation Salomon de Rothschild and now at Musée de la Chasse, the sculpture of a deer in glass bubbles.

Kohei Nawa, PixCell-Deer is made of glass bubbles

But the main attraction is the Mellon collection of horse paintings on the ground floor. Delightfully decorated, the small space is a great showcase for the XVIII th century British and French races and hunting paintings. Théodore Géricault, George Stubbs, Edgar Degas, Sir Alfred James Munnings are among the greatest painters of horses and Paul Mellon accumulated an enormous amount of their chefs d’oeuvres which were later given to the Center for British art at Yale and the National Gallery in Washington.

John Frederick Herring, Portrait of Thomas Dawson and family, 1842 © The Paul Mellon Collection, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Mellon were incredibly sporty themselves and loved English country life. They therefore developed a particularly refined collection with a lovely painting by Princeteau, a rare Degas and Delacroix, as well as the star horses of English races. the portrait of Granadillo and her little horse Skyscraper by James Ward is ideally moving as is Thomas Gooch’ Portrait of a man with is horse and his dogs in 1780.

James Ward, Portrait of Granadillo and her fowl, Skyscraper, 1809, © The Paul Mellon Collection, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

At at time when hunting has become non politically correct in many countries, this show warms the heart and reminds us how beautiful friends horses can be. (Until December 2, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, 62 rue des Archives) Join for 60€ the “Amis du Musee de la Chasse” which is now run by Isabelle Lépine.

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One Comment on ““At musée de la Chasse, Country Life takes over”

  1. Lepine

    Dearest Laure,
    Si si excitant ton commentaire
    Merci de tes encouragements
    Serais tu interessée de participer aux visites des «  Amis ».. ateliers de Damien Deroubaix ou Zonder et bien sûr… journee autour de Naud et Provins chez Denys
    Ton écriture est juste très entrainante !
    A très vite
    Isabelle L

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