Mr President of the Musée d'Orsay,Ladies and Gentlemen, representatives of the Minister of Budget,Mr President of the Interministerial Commission for the Accreditation of the National Artistic Heritage Conservation,Dear Members of William Bouguereau’s Family,Dear Friends,

How a museum was formed, how can it create and nurture
its collections? Like everything related to origins, this question remains I
believe, for many of our fellow citizens, an enigma. In the eyes of
specialists, moreover, it remains of a rare complexity, so varied are the
modes of entry of a work into a museum, echoed by the
paintings: donation, purchase, bequest, etc.
The “dation” mechanism is probably less known to the general public, and
since it has only been in existence for a little over 40 years, the
which was passed on December 31, 1968, to enter into force in
1970. The Ministry of Culture and Communication celebrated the
owes the 40th anniversary.
Dation is a symbolically strong act because, as its etymology indicates, it
is a gesture of “giving”, not only to the State, but also, and by
there, to everyone. Beyond the payment of tax – inheritance – this
are thus works of art infinitely valuable from the aesthetic point of view and
heritage that are made available to the entire community and
future generations, who then own them in sharing. This is, I believe, a
virtuous and very balanced mechanism, which, besides, you know, has already allowed,
the creation of the PICASSO National Museum, the largest dedicated to the
as well as the entrance of more than 300 works to the Musée d'Orsay, 313
exactly, including paintings as emblematic as Le Déjeuner on
Edouard MANET’s herb or Gustave COURBET’s Origin du monde.
This is why I would first like to greet the family of William BOUGUEREAU, whose
the gesture of «dation» of these five masterpieces will benefit each of us
and will greatly contribute to the influence of the Musée d'Orsay.
This painter very important in the history of French painting was until now
represented in Orsay by three paintings, which were added to about thirty paintings
in the region: it will now have a magnificent Parisian ensemble, which illustrates all
the diversity of its talent and make it better known to amateurs and
From «Égalité», which dates from 1848, to the «Oréades» of 1902, it is more
half a century of a successful and honoured career, but also and
especially of pictorial research that we are given to discover or
rediscover. We can only admire this rare formal perfection and this
absolute mastery of the drawing, which contain any temptation of excess or
of romantic and symbolist exacerbation, while participating in these two
successive aesthetics.
This rigor in the layout and shape of the bodies does not, I believe, in any way
academicism. On the contrary, it is a means of obtaining
increased strength and effect in the rendering of movement, tension and even
torsion of the muscles, at the edge of rupture in the impressive Dante and Virgil
in the Underworld».

William BOUGUEREAU does not question the hierarchy of genders,
religious or mythological, but renews these genres from within, not
by transgression, but by exploring their limits and their
codes. Very evocative are, in this regard, its titles, often
enigmatic, which readily signal this subtle program of minute
subversion: thus of «Equality» which, in 1848, seems to have
resonance with the Revolution and its slogan, but which, in reality, the
for the benefit of a religious, spiritual, ethical and
through this angel spreading its black wings like a «vanity»
and paradoxical, that of equality before death. I also think
under “Compassion”, which signals a discreet renewal of the pattern
of Christ on the Cross, without paroxysmal dolorism, but as an incarnation
a new charity placed under the sign of a double cross, a
almost twin fraternity, that of the Man who lives the Passion «with» the
Saviour, literally in «com-passion» with him. I finally think of the title
The Assault, which suggests the latent violence of a scene that
first glance, the smiling grace of the eighteenth century, but crushed under the
the almost disturbing proliferation of Eros figures…
I am therefore pleased that the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Accreditation for
the conservation of the national artistic heritage, chaired by the
Professor Jean-Pierre CHANGEUX, has been able to detect the artistic and
exceptional heritage of these works, and make possible their entry
at the Musée d'Orsay. They will enrich the beginnings of the
proposed by the Museum. And in correspondence with the other paintings
are exposed, they will allow each of the visitors from all the
horizons, expand their aesthetic palette and deepen the quality of
their emotions and pictorial knowledge. For, at a time when
we introduced arts and cultural education to the school, we
know that in art, knowledge and pleasure are by no means
antagonists but complementary, that they strengthen each other to
benefit of a real aesthetic participation of the spectator.
I renew my thanks to William’s heirs
BOUGUEREAU, congratulates President Guy COGEVAL on this
beautiful acquisition, and wish each and everyone very beautiful
shared encounters with art and culture of excellence, embodied by
this painting.
Thank you.