Émile Molinier, the 'incompatible' roles of a Louvre curator

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Abstract

The career of Émile Molinier at the Musée du Louvre was marked by important research on the works in his care, by his pioneering approach to teaching the history of art, by his forceful personality (which sometimes bordered on intransigence), and by the special relationships he fostered with collectors. The latter resulted in Molinier writing around fifteen catalogues of major private collections, chief among them the catalogue of the collection of Frederick Spitzer, which posed various ethical problems at the time of its publication. This controversy was magnified further during the sale of Spitzer's collection, when Molinier was accused - in terms laced with anti-Semitic sentiments - of colluding with the collector's family for financial gain. Molinier's links with other Jewish collectors and donors to the Louvre - including Isaac Camondo and Adolphe de Rothschild - fuelled these attacks, not to mention his often ambiguous relationship with the Marquise Arconati-Visconti, a supporter of Dreyfus in the eponymous affair.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-321
JournalJournal of the History of Collections
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015

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