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.
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.
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.
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.
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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