René Huyghe: an academician's collection

On 14 June 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

The great art historian's academician's sword is pre-empted by the Musée Zadkine, while drawings and mementos from his collection remain in private hands.

Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967), academician's sword of René Huyghe (1906-1997), mounting in gilt bronze, hilt symbolising Athena, crossguard formed by an undulating serpent.
Result: €10,160

Curator at the Louvre and the Musée Jacquemart-André, and a member of the Académie Française and the Collège de France, this respectable man of the 20th century assembled a collection in his own image. When sold, it made a total of €416,040. The books were the first to be acclaimed by collectors: €13,970 went to a copy of the Bible published by Verve in 1956 with drawings by Marc Chagall, and €39,370 to a small book by Yves Klein, soberly entitled Yves, peintures, printed in Madrid in 1954 in an edition of only 150. However, there was a slight disappointment with the manuscripts, particularly the long correspondence of two hundred autograph letters exchanged with Germain Bazin (1901-1990), curator of the Musée du Louvre painting department during the Second World War. These documents failed to sell, although it had been hoped that a national institution would buy them. The only pre-emption of the day, at €10,160, concerned the sword with a gilt bronze mounting made by Ossip Zadkine for René Huyghe's admission to the Académie Française on 22 April 1961. As the curator considered Zadkine the greatest sculptor of his time, it was no surprise that he commissioned him to make this ritual object – or that the sword now joins the collections of the artist's museum, housed in his Paris studio residence in Rue d'Assas. The most eagerly awaited pieces included this Portrait d'homme by Claude Mellan (1598-1688). The work, which garnered €39,370, is almost a miniature, whose small size in no way detracts from the power of the face it depicts.

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