Exceptional Purchase Medardo Rosso, Femme à la voilette, @boijmans

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has seized the unique opportunity to acquire a large work by the Italian artist Medardo Rosso. The museum purchased ‘Femme à la voilette’ (Woman with a Veil, 1923) for € 1.9 million with the support of major funds and private individuals, like Mondriaan Fund and Vereniging Rembrandt. The sculpture takes its place in the museum among works by Impressionists and Post Impressionists like Degas, Cézanne and Monet.

It is very rare that a sculpture cast in wax by Rosso comes on to the market. Almost all the artist’s works are in museum collections. Last spring ‘Femme à la voilette’ was part of the successful ‘Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray’ exhibition − supported by the Turing Award − in which Rosso came as a great surprise for tens of thousands of visitors. At the time the unique opportunity arose to purchase the work from the Lauder Collection put together by the son of Estée and Joseph Lauder, founders of the famous cosmetics brand. The museum effectively has no acquisition budget of its own. The ‘leading gift’ from the Mondriaan Fund and Vereniging Rembrandt ensured that the museum was given enough time to raise the remaining amount.

The acquisition takes the Rotterdam collection and the Collectie Nederland to a higher level. More even than his friend, contemporary and rival Auguste Rodin, Rosso is regarded as the artist who introduced Impressionism into sculpture. The work is now a permanent part of the museum’s display, showing to great advantage among Impressionists like Cézanne, Monet, Van Gogh and the famous dancers by Degas. There are only two other works by this Italian Impressionist in the Netherlands and these can be found in the Kröller-Müller Museum.

‘Femme à la voilette’ (1923) is a key work in Rosso’s oeuvre and his personal favourite on this theme. Rosso was extremely successful in capturing the ‘fleeting moment’ popular in Impressionism. For more than twenty-eight years he endeavoured to evoke a fugitive glimpse of a woman descending the steps of a church in Paris. This work is the last version that Rosso made of this subject. The smooth, delicate face emerges from a rough, raised surface.

The arrival of the sculpture coincides with the long-term loan from his heirs of a series of photographs taken by Rosso. The exhibition ‘Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray − Framing Sculpture’ was the first time attention had been focused on Rosso’s photography on a significant scale. The museum has the expertise to carry out research, manage and organize loan requests for this series of photographs.

The museum was able to acquire the sculpture thanks to the significant contributions of Vereniging Rembrandt (including its Dura art fund and its dedicated sculpture fund), the Mondriaan Fund, the VSBfonds, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Foundation, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (including its Breeman Talle Fund), the BankGiro Loterij, the G. P. Verhagen Foundation, the Dorodarte Foundation and the generous gifts of private individuals in the Van Eyck Circle and the Bas Jan Ader Society.

Medardo Rosso, Femme à la voilette, 1895
Medardo Rosso, Femme à la voilette, 1895