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Fire, theft … How to ensure their safety?

"The martyrdom of Saint Sebastian" and "The Painting of Forgiveness" were discovered in Cavaillon. – Morand family

  • Purchased for 120,000 francs in 1991, two paintings belonging to Christian Morand could have an invaluable value: according to this collector, these are works of Caravaggio.
  • Christian Morand had to secure his house. A burglary or a fire are his main fears.

Chiaroscuro against the light. Two paintings attributed to Caravaggio enthroned in a mansion of Cavaillon (Vaucluse), on each side of a window. Two paintings now well protected:
At the end of March, the Morands, their owners, decided to announce to the world (at least to the media) that they were the proud owners of two paintings of the
Caravaggio.

Since the case is publicized? "It's the sea," said Christian Morand, laughing. Everything has changed for the two paintings that this Cavaillon ophthalmologist has since 1991. They were then attributed to Louis Finson, one of the propagators of caravagism in Europe. A renowned painter, but not a great master. "I discovered these paintings in 1978 in Marseille and I was hypnotized, struck, says Christian Morand. I managed to buy them and since then a dialogue has been established. "

120,000 francs in 1991, hundreds of millions today?

A dialogue facilitated by the erudition of his two sons, Guilhem and Olivier, who concluded that these paintings, The Martyrdom of San Sebastián and The Painting of Forgiveness would actually be Caravaggio's own works. Which, obviously, makes them change dimension.

"I bought the two paintings 120,000 francs, in 1991 [soit environ 18.000 euros]says Christian Morand. Today, the owners of a Caravaggio discovered in Toulouse claim 150 million euros! But the Morands do not intend to sell the paintings: "We want them to stay in Provence and they are visible, but it can become very complicated if the Caravaggio of Toulouse is well sold for 150 million," adds Guilhem Morand , his eldest son.

Complicated, in particular, for insurance: both tables are currently insured at their purchase price. Their value may have been multiplied by 8,000 in the meantime. And even more according to Christian Morand, who believes that The Painting of Forgiveness is "the philosophical testament" of Caravaggio.

Fire boiler and fog diffusers

According to Christian Morand, the rogue painter, banished from Rome after a murder, would have conceived this work as a quadruple self-portrait, to apologize to the pope. A portrait mixing the traits of Caravaggio himself, those of Saint-Jerome being flogged, those of Saint-François and the ear of a satyr, mythical creature lecherous.

An invaluable work, which had to be protected before revealing its existence to the general public. "We had a lot of thought, we brought Françoise Nyssen when she was Minister of Culture, the security committee also told us everything we had to avoid as nonsense," said Christian Morand.

"They almost had a heart attack when they saw put multiples under the tables, smiles Guilhem Morand. This is the number one cause of fire in museums. To protect the masterpieces – and to open to the public four additional rooms of their home of the twelfth century – the Morand family invests nearly 200,000 euros, with the help of the department and the Ministry of Culture.

The tables will be visible from July 18th

"We had to install a special boiler, fire, put armored doors, different types of alarms, fog techniques that eliminate visibility in a room," continues Christian Morand. The Cavaillon police officers were, of course, warned: "The idea is to gain the maximum time in case of theft, by putting the paintings as far as possible in the house," said Guilhem Morand.

Which does not mean they will be hidden. For Morand, these two paintings are "Provençal public goods". They will show them to the general public this summer, from July 18th. The Morands will also publish, in Actes Sud, the correspondence of Pereisc, owner of the paintings in the seventeenth century. The letters of this man, who was buried between the two paintings, prove, according to them, that they are indeed works of Caravaggio. Historians will debate at length to authenticate – or not – the two paintings. Which, in any case, are well guarded.

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