Mr. President of the Louvre Museum, dear Henri Loyrette, Mr. President and Chief Executive Officer of Mazars in France, dear Philippe Castagnac, Mr. Vice President of the Société des Amis du Louvre, Conservative Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

So here we are today for a very special event,
around a masterpiece that seems very tiny in the Medici gallery
from the Louvre Museum, in the midst of these very large formats of Rubens. If
you allow me this detour, I would like for the occasion to speak to you about a
monumental canvas, 120 meters long and 14 meters high, that
can be found at the Panoramamuseum of Bad Frankenhausen, in
Thuringia. Those of you familiar with German museums
probably know this work by Werner Tübke, one of the last
official artists of the German Democratic Republic, dedicated to
the Peasant War and the Battle of Frankenhausen. The work is
so large that a special rotunda is dedicated to it, in the middle of
which was one of the bloodiest battlefields of the Reformation,
when the followers of Thomas Münzer were massacred by Philip of
Hesse with Luther’s blessing.

By contrast, here we are facing this small wooden panel signed by the
Mayor of Wittenberg, six years after this long battle
considered by some as the original sin of the Reformation. The praise of the
there meets an eroticism made of necklaces and hats. I cannot
prevent me from thinking that under the exoticism of this Lutheran eroticism (well
that officially it is an allegory of virtues, of charity, of
friendship and generosity), placidity and beauty of this masterpiece
conceal in silence the violence of a period of radical
Germany and soon Europe - which they offer us, by their ambiguity
pagan and Christian, the condensed of troubled times. I remember
what Pierre Guyotat wrote about the eroticism of war, and I like it
to think that these few square centimeters of Cranach tell us
finally much more than the 120 meters of Werner Tübke on the
thunder of the roaring history.

Since we are talking about format contrasts, I would like to welcome
the excellent idea of the Conservatives to have proposed for this web of
Cranach, a 3-month internship in the middle of the Rubens, before she
more wisely joins the rooms of the German Painting. The Three
Thanks to Cranach in the middle of Marie de Medici’s «biopic»,
the intrusion of explosive minutia in the midst of Antwerp flesh is
at the bottom as invasive as the earthworm of Jan Fabre which, there is not so
long in this same room, came to exhale his long Flemish rail on
bottom of headstones: I want to get my head out of the noose flowing from
history”. This time, it is an interior work, probably reserved for
intimacy, which confronts the official pomp of the Queen of France.
And yet, there is a common line between these two worlds if
opposite: the world of the workshop.

Cranach, long before Rubens, had been one of the first painters of Europe
to have significantly declined its activity on the Northern
speed and productivity. At the time of the Lutheran Flugschriften
and their mechanical reproduction that the printing press allowed, Cranach
was an entrepreneur whose practice was also in the service of a cause, and
he was one of the main purveyors of Lutheran iconography, as
its omnipresence in museums in Central Germany - and
that Parisians have the opportunity to discover right now with the beautiful
exhibition of the Meeting of National Museums at the
Luxembourg. Much later and in a cultural and
very different confessional, Rubens and his workshop will also have in mind
the political importance of the iconography that is the subject of these early
modern times, real “communication plans”: these are,
in both cases, artist entrepreneurs who have captured the strength of
the image and its reproduction, to better carry the conviction.

This conviction, in the case of Cranach, was largely carried away, for
more than 7,000 donors. We are gathered today to
to mark the culmination of a great collective adventure. This makes it
singularity, in comparison, for example, with other
our English and Scottish neighbours, this may also be
size of the winning work. Of this European digest, several thousand
of individuals came forward, in just a few weeks, to
claim a share. There is undoubtedly something religious in
this extraordinary manifestation of an attachment to pictorial heritage.
We are far from the pieces of Berlin walls where everyone wants a little
history dust for his personal salon. With the Three Graces, he
was to keep the work in the Louvre Museum, for the most
great pride of each donor.

In turn, I would like to salute all those who contributed to the success
of this subscription campaign, which was relayed to the
national level by the press, and which met very quickly the echo
remarkable that we know since the appeal launched on November 13,
with donations of all sizes from 7,000 donors, including
members of the Société des Amis du Louvre. The million euros
missing to complete the acquisition was quickly assembled and came
to the $3 million made available through the acquisition of the
Louvre and companies, including the Mazars Group, which is the
the main patron of this operation, and I would like to thank
great generosity and his willingness to associate once again with the
Louvre for an exceptional operation. This operation is based on
also on the law of 1 August 2003 on patronage,
associations and foundations, which facilitates, as you know, the entry
in public collections of works recognized National Treasures
through corporate sponsorship.

The Strength of the Three Graces of
Cranach is to have revealed, through an original acquisition mode,
the attachment of each to the national heritage, and the willingness to associate
to its preservation. This individual appropriation of a
common heritage is a theme, you know, that is
particularly expensive – as well as the enrichment of collections
which is one of the priorities of my department. It is
point, I want to pay tribute to all the Conservatives who dedicate to it
their time and energy - for I am well aware of the long work
breath that this represents. After the dais of Charles VII for which the
The Society of Friends of the Louvre was particularly invested, the Three
Graces constitute for the Louvre an exceptional new acquisition,
the world-renowned quality of its collections.

Thank you.