Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Daumier, Barye & Bourdelle Forgeries in Olga Hirshhorn's The Mouse House exhibition at the Bruce Museum

NOTE: Footnotes are enclosed with [FN ].

Updated: September 20, 2010 with photo of Hirshhorn's 1968 Daumier bronze forgery




















The Bruce Museum’s July 25 - October 18, 2009 The Mouse House, Art from the Olga Hirshhorn Collection exhibition contains at least three non-disclosed posthumous forgeries, falsely attributed, in their July 16, 2009 press release, as "sculptures"[FN 1] by Honore Daumier, Antoine-Louis Barye and Emile-Antoine Bourdelle.

On page 1186 of the Seventh Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, -posthumous- is defined as: "Occurring or existing after death."[FN 2]

The dead don't sculpt.

Additionally, on page 661 of the Seventh Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, -forgery- is defined as: "The act of fraudulently making a false document or altering a real one to be used as if genuine."

Yet, the Bruce Museum's "The Mouse House: Art from the Collection of Olga Hirshhorn July 25 - October 18, 2009 exhibition checklist brochure lists these three non-disclosed posthumous forgeries as: "120. Honore Daumier (French, 1808-1879), Head of a Man in Top Hat, Bronze (ed. 7/30), 6 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 6 1/4 in.," and "185. Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1795-1875), Running Elephant of Senegal, c. 1830's, Bronze, (Foundry Barbedienne), 3 x 3 7/8 x 1 1/4 in." and "94. Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (French 1861-1929), Bust: Carpeau, Bronze (Clement Fondeur, II), 9 x7 x 6 1/2 in."[FN 3]

Despite, the above given dates predating the death of all three artists, Daumier never cast in bronze, much less in limited editions, the Barbedienne foundry acquired the work of Barye (d 1875) in 1876 and edited his work in different sizes for reproduction in bronze and the Clement Foundry reproduced the work of Bourdelle (d. 1929) after 1949.

Therefore, whether Olga Hirshhorn and the Bruce Museum has a lack of connoisseurship ie., understanding the difference between originals and reproductions and/or a lack of scholarship in the vetting the authenticity of this collection, much less these non-disclosed forgeries that would be an explanation - not an excuse.

As a result, in part, the Bruce Museum and Olga Hirshhorn are misleading the public, with or without intent, for the $7 price of adult admission and other potential monetary considerations such as city-state-federal grants, corporate sponsorship and individual contributions, such as the "Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund."[FN 4]

So, when The Advocate newspaper published a July 18, 2009 "Bruce exhibit features Hirshhorn collection" article by Christina Hennessy quoting the Bruce Museum Executive Director Peter Sutton stating: "There are going to be a lot of items that will be surprises"[FN 5], the disclosure of these three non-disclosed forgeries were probably not the surprise the public, much less the director was expecting.

This monograph documents these contentious issues of authenticity.












"120. Honore Daumier (French, 1808-1879), Head of a Man in Top Hat, Bronze (ed. 7/30), 6 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 6 1/4 in."
Bruce Museum's "The Mouse House, Art from the Olga Hirshhorn Collection" July 24 - October 18, 2009 (exhibition brochure), 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830-7157

OLGA HIRSHHORN'S HEAD OF A MAN IN TOP HAT

FIRST of the three non-disclosed posthumous forgeries, in this exhibition, is the so-called "Honore Daumier (French, 1808-1879), Head of a Man in Top Hat, Bronze."

Honore-Victorin Daumier -never- worked in bronze.

This factual perspective is confirmed on page 253 of Pierre Kjellberg’s 1994 Bronzes OF THE 19TH CENTURY, Dictionary of Sculptors, where the author wrote Honore Daumier's "sculpted work is better known thanks to the bronzes" but “he never saw them, and no doubt never anticipated them.”[FN 6]

All so-called bronzes attributed to Honore Daumier (d 1879) were posthumously forged between 1891 and the 1960's.

POSTHUMOUS CAMPAIGNS TO SERIALIZE DAUMIER'S SCULPTURE
This factual perspective is confirmed in a National Gallery of Art's "2000 biographie of Honoré Daumier" by Suzanne Glover Lindsay, where the author wrote: "The many posthumous campaigns to serialize Daumier's sculpture, which lasted well into the 1960s, have provided a subtly altered view of that aspect of his work."[FN 7]

Yet, on the Bruce Museum's website for this exhibition, this non-disclosed posthumous forgery is promoted as one of the so-called "lovely sculptures by Honore Daumier."[FN 8]

The dead don' t sculpt.
























Imitator of Honoré Daumier, French, 1808 - 1879, Man in a Tall Hat, model possibly 1830s, cast 1944/1950. bronze, overall: 10.2 x 6.4 x 6.4 cm (4 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 in.), Rosenwald Collection, 1951.17.2, incised in the model, on right rear of collar: h.D.
http://www.nga.gov/fcgi-bin/tinfo_f?object=41521&detail=ins

NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART'S IMITATOR OF HONORE DAUMIER
The National Gallery of Art's "Man in a Tall Hat" bronze is listed as an "Imitator of Honore Daumier" and "cast 1944/1950."[FN 9]

On page 751 of the Seventh Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, -imitation- is defined as: "an item that so resembles a trademarked item as to be likely to induce the belief that it is genuine."[FN 10]

Would the inscription "h.D.," on right rear of the collar of this bronze by an -imitator of Honore Daumier-, potentially "induce the belief that it is genuine?"
























Man in a Tall Hat (Tete d'homme en chapeau haut de forme), Honoré-Victorin Daumier, French, 1808-1879, Man in a Tall Hat (Tete d'homme en chapeau haut de forme), modeled possibly 1830s (cast 1944/50)
http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/152783

ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO's MAN IN A TALL HAT
Another example of one of "the many posthumous campaigns to serialize Daumier's sculpture" is the Art Institute of Chicago's "Man in a Tall Hat" attributed to Honore-Victorin Daumier and listed as "cast 1944/50."[FN 11]

Between 1944 and 1950, Honore-Victorin Daumier (d 1879) was some 65 to 71 years dead.

COUNTERFEIT DAUMIER SIGNATURES POSTHUMOUSLY APPLIED
Additionally, in a second National Gallery of Art's published "2000 biographie of Honoré Daumier" by Lorenz Eitner, the author wrote: "On 10 February 1879 Daumier died after a paralytic stroke. He left behind a large number of paintings in various states of incompletion. When, about 1900, the demand for his work began to rise, many of these remainders, some badly deteriorated, were restored, finished, and supplied with "signatures," making it difficult in some instances to determine Daumier's half-effaced authentic part in them."[FN 12]

On page 1387 of the Seventh Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, -signature- is defined as: "A person's name or mark written by that person or at the person's direction."[FN 13]

The dead don't sign.

So, should there be any more confidence that Daumier's unfired clay models would posthumously fare any different?
























HEAD OF A MAN IN A TOP HAT, Cast bronze; h. 6 1/2 (165 mm.), Markings: lower left shoulder: 7/30, h.D.; right rear: Valsuani stamp, Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, (Bronze edition of 30 cast by Valsuani in 1968)

NOTE: The above description and photograph is from page 258 of Jeanne L. Wasserman's 1969 Daumier Sculpture, A Critical and Comparative Study copyrighted by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Additionally, on page 257, the author wrote: "the clay head [Head of a Man in a Top Hat] was sold to Joseph H. Hirshhorn, who authorized Pierre Matisse to have a bronze edition of thirty numbered cast made by Valsuani foundry. It is interesting to note that the clay had no signature, but the initials "h.D." were incised by the foundry in the wax models and then cast in bronzes."

Honoré-Victorin Daumier, Bust of a Man with Top Hat, (N.D.), Terra-cotta, 6 7/8 X 5 3/4 X 5 7/8 IN. (17.4 X 14.4 X 15.0 CM.), ON BASE: 2 3/4 X 5 1/2 X 5 3/8 IN. (7.0 X 13.9 X 13.5 CM., The Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest, 1981, Accession Number: 86.1316, Provenance: Sam Szafran, acquired at Foire a la Ferraille antique fair, Paris, 1963, Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, to 1969, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, New York, from 1969-31 August 1981, Estate of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1981-1986, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest, 1986
http://hirshhorn.si.edu/visit/collection_object.asp?key=32&subkey=5636

HIRSHHORN'S BUST OF A MAN WITH TOP HAT
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden's provenance for their so-called Honore-Victorin Daumier "Bust of a Man with Top Hat" begins in "1963."[FN 14]

WHAT IS PROVENANCE?
The auction house Sotheby’s, on their www.sothebys.com website, defines -provenance- as: "The history ownership of the property being sold. This can be an important part of the authentication process as it establishes the chain for ownership back (if possible) to the time the piece was made.”

Since Honore Daumier died in 1879, does a provenance gap of 84 years by the Hirshhorn Museum and Gardens, for their so-called Honore-Victorin Daumier "Bust of a Man with Top Hat" in -Terra-cotta-, give anyone much confidence in it's authenticity?

ETHICAL GUIDELINES ON SCULPTURAL REPRODUCTIONS
The Association of Art Museum Directors endorses the College Art Association ethical guidelines on sculptural reproduction which, in part, states: “any transfer into new material unless specifically condoned by the artist is to be considered inauthentic or counterfeit.”[FN 15]

The dead don't condone.

The National Gallery of Art, Art Institute of Chicago and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden are current members of the Association of Art Museum Directors.[FN 16]

DAUMIER BUSTS POSTHUMOUSLY REPAIRED
This posthumous transfer into new material is further addressed on page 255 of Pierre Kjellberg’s 1994 Bronzes OF THE 19TH CENTURY, Dictionary of Sculptors, where the author wrote: “In 1927, a print merchant and editor named Maurice Le Garrec bought these busts from the descendants of Philppon, to whom Daumier had recently sold them. Le Garrec had them repaired by the sculptor Fix-Masseau, then had them cast in bronze, in lost wax, by Barbedienne.”[FN 17]

Going from the ridiculous to the sublime, between 1927 and 1952, the posthumous forging in bronze from twenty-six of Daumier's posthumously "repaired" busts were promoted as being limited editions of 25 or 3o even though Daumier (d 1879) was not around to number them much less sign them.

Then as if to confirm how ludicrous the concept of posthumous limit editions are, on page 255 of Pierre Kjellberg’s 1994 Bronzes OF THE 19TH CENTURY, Dictionary of Sculptors, the author wrote: "In the 1970's the Valsuani foundry "made three news casting of each of the thirty-six busts, for Mme le Garrec and her two daughters, Mme Henyer and Mme Cordier."[FN 18]

ANTOINE LOUIS BARYE FORGERY
SECOND of the three non-disclosed posthumous forgeries, in this exhibition, is the so-called "185. Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1795-1875), Running Elephant of Senegal, c. 1830's, Bronze, (Foundry Barbedienne), 3 x 3 7/8 x 1 1/4 in."

The problem, with the listed date, is the F. Barbedienne foundry posthumously acquired Antoine Louis Barye’s work after his death in 1875 and began editing them in different sizes for sale to the public.

F BARBEDIENNE FOUNDRY POSTHUMOUS MARK
This is confirmed on page 64 of Pierre Kjellberg’s 1994 Bronzes OF THE 19TH CENTURY, Dictionary of Sculptors, where the author wrote: “All of these bronzes, including some that the sculptor never cast during his lifetime, were reissued in even greater numbers after his death. When Barye’s studio was sold in 1876 after his death, Ferdinand Barbedienne bought one hundred and twenty-five models, along with the reproduction rights. This famous founder , and after 1892 his nephew and successor Leblanc-Barbedienne, produced increasing numbers of castings until the beginning of the twentieth century, and then transferred the rights to the great collector Zoubaloff. Zoubaloff later donated them to the Louvre...Accordingly to Andre Fabious, a leading expert on Barye, it was used by Barbedienne between 1876 to 1889.”[FN 19]

BARBEDIENNE EDITED THESEUS... IN DIFFERENT SIZES
Additionally, the posthumous editing in different sizes is confirmed on page 64 of Pierre Kjellberg’s 1994 Bronzes OF THE 19TH CENTURY, Dictionary of Sculptors, where the author wrote: “The 1887 Barbedienne catalog offered a hundred and twenty subjects in bronze, from 3 to 128 cm in height, from 12 Francs (Tortue No. 2) to 10,000 Francs (Grand Lion assis des Tutleries, in original dimensions). A number of these subjects were sold in many sizes. Thesee et le centaure Bienor was offered in it original full size for 6000 F, and in four reductions priced from 550 to 3200 F, not to mention a draft priced at 390 F.”[FN 20]

EMILE-ANTOINE BOURDELLE FORGERY
THIRD of the three non-disclosed posthumous forgeries, in this exhibition, is the so-called "94. Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (French 1861-1929), Bust: Carpeau, Bronze (Clement Fondeur, II), 9 x7 x 6 1/2 in."

This factual perspective is confirmed on page 124 of Pierre Kjellberg’s 1994 Bronzes OF THE 19TH CENTURY, Dictionary of Sculptors, where the author wrote after the death of Emile-Antoine Bourdelle ”his studio and the works it contained were futilely offered to the State by his widow for about twenty years. The donation was finally accepted by the city of Paris, which opened the museum in 1949. A contract was then signed with Mme Bourdelle and her daughter, Mme Dufet-Bourdelle (today curator of the museum), stipulating that each of the sculptures could be cast in ten bronze copies, by two artists who would be selected through a competition. Works which had already been made, as could be determined by a general inventory, were exempt from this contract. Produced by different founders - Susse, Godard, Valsuani, Hohwiller, the Coubertin Foundation, Clementi, etc., the proofs thus obtained were numbered and carry the note 'Copyright by Bourdelle.' A number of them also carry a stylized star, the artist's monogram made of an A and a B reversed."[FN 21]

Remember, in the Bruce Museum exhibition brochure, this so-called "Bust: Carpeau," attributed to Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (d 1929), lists the foundry as: "Clement Fondeur" which could have only cast the work as early as 1949.

LAW, ETHICS AND THE VISUAL ARTS
On page 816-817 of Kluwer Law International’s published 1998 Law, Ethics and the Visual Arts, Third Edition by John Henry Merryman and Albert E. Elsen wrote about “Counterfeit Art.”[FN 22]

TRUTH
Under the subtitle “Truth,” the authors wrote: “The most serious harm that good counterfeits do is to confuse and misdirect the search for valid learning. The counterfeit objects falsifies history and misdirects inquiry.”[FN 23]

RESOURCE ALLOCATION
Additionally, under the subtitle “Resource Allocation,” the authors wrote: “Museum and art historical resources are always limited. What gets acquired, displayed, conserved and studied is the result of a continuous process of triage, in which some objects can be favoured only at the expenses of others. Counterfeit objects distort the process.”[FN 24]

FRAUD
Finally, under the subtitle “Fraud,” the authors wrote: “There remains the most obvious harm of all: counterfeit cultural objects are instruments of fraud. Most are created in order to deceive and defraud, but even “innocent” counterfeits can, and often will, be so used. The same considerations of justice and social order that make deliberate fraud of others kinds criminal apply equally to fraud through the medium of counterfeit art...”[FN 25]

CONCLUSION
What needs to be accomplished is the full and honest disclosure of all reproductions as -reproductions- by all museums, auction houses and art dealers. If the Bruce Museum, much less Olga Hirshhorn, will give full and honest disclosure for all reproductions as: -reproductions- it would allow museum patrons to give informed consent on whether they wish to attend an exhibit of reproductions, much less pay the price of admission

But if these objects are not reproductions by definition and law, but posthumous -forgeries- with or without counterfeit signatures or inscriptions posthumously applied to create the illusion the artist created it, much less approved and signed it, then serious consequences of law may come into play for those who chose to misrepresent these -forgeries- for profit.

The reputations and legacy of living and past artists, present and future museum art patrons and the art-buying public deserve the re-establishment of the obvious; that the living presence and participation of the artist to once again be required, as it always should have been, to create the piece of art attributable to the artist if indeed it is attributed to them, much less purported to have been signed by them.


FOOTNOTES:
1. June 17, 2009 Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT, Ongoing and Upcoming Exhibitions, Contact: Mike Horyczun, Director of Public Relations, (203) 413-6735

2. Copyright © 1999 By West Group, ISBN 0-314-22864-0

3. The Mouse House, Art from the Olga Hirshhorn Collection, July 25 - October 18, 2009, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut (exhibition brochure)

4.http://www.brucemuseum.org/exhibitions/exhibit.php?exhibit=123

5.http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/fdcp?1248218128817

6. Copyright © 1994, ISBN: 0-88740-629-7

7.http://www.nga.gov/cgi-bin/tbio?tperson=1209

8.http://www.brucemuseum.org/exhibitions/exhibit.php?exhibit=123

9.http://www.nga.gov/fcgi-bin/tinfo_f?object=41521&detail=ins

10. Copyright © 1999 By West Group, ISBN 0-314-22864-0

11.http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/152783

12.http://www.nga.gov/cgi-bin/tbio?tperson=1209

13. Copyright © 1999 By West Group, ISBN 0-314-22864-0

14.http://hirshhorn.si.edu/visit/collection_object.asp?key=32&subkey=5636

15.
www.collegeart.org/guidelines/sculpture.html

16.http://www.aamd.org/about/#Members

17. Copyright © 1994, ISBN: 0-88740-629-7

18. Ibid

19. Ibid

20. Ibid

21. Ibid

22) ISBN 90-411-0697-9

23) Ibid

24) Ibid

25) Ibid


LOCATION:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
203-869-0376
webmasters@brucemuseum.org




2 Comments:

Anonymous d.noack said...

Hello gary
Your article is highly interesting and certainly underlines a problem which also involved posthumous sculptures by rodin or h. moore.

the daumier register has published under its 2 websites www.daumier.org and www.daumier-register.org daumier's 4000 lithographs and 1000 wood engravings. we are presently working to add the sculptures (busts and figurines plus ratapoil etc). thus your comments are of greatest interest and I would like to discuss especially daumier's 'man with a top hat' with you
please let me have you email address so we can start the exchange.
thanks
d.noack

2:38 AM, September 16, 2009  
Blogger Tamara Eve Seidman said...

Truly fascinating. Thank you for this invaluable information, which has given me new insight. We have a "Daumier" bronze bust, handed down to my husband by his art-collecting parents, signed "h. D." Until reading your blog, we had no idea that what we REALLY had was a forgery, especially given the fact that Daumier never even imagined his sculptures would be made in bronze. My in-laws were collectors of fine works of art, and they were most likely mistaken when they made this purchase. We love it all the same.

9:11 PM, November 04, 2009  

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