This month will see some significant additions to the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collections – 11 acquisitions for its permanent galleries and 40 new loans from the French museums and institutions that are the gallery’s partners (there are 13 of these, so there’s a broad range of possibilities).
The new works will bring the total number of works on display to over 700. The gallery also said that several existing loans will remain in Abu Dhabi for another year. They should all be on view from the end of October 2018, just in time for the Louvre AD’s first anniversary celebrations.
Describing himself as “thrilled” to unveil the new works, the Louvre AD director Manuel Rabaté said: “Building a collection is a gradual and rigorous process through the selection of marvellous pieces, and we hope visitors delight in discovering and learning about these new ones as much as we do”.
Dr Souraya Noujaim (right) was appointed the Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management Director for Louvre AD back in February. “Louvre Abu Dhabi’s programme of new exhibitions and rotations of loans from our partners means we are able to enrich our permanent galleries regularly,” she said. “At the same time, the museum’s curatorial team and acquisitions committee work closely to enhance our permanent collection with world-class additions that illuminate new aspects of our unique institutional perspective and universal narrative.
“This month, we welcome a new set of masterpieces to the museum, ensuring that first-time and repeat visitors alike will find something to fascinate and inspire them as we celebrate culture and creativity from all areas of the world.”
A major rehang of the permanent galleries is also planned, with some big-name loans featuring modern and contemporary masters. They include three from Musée d’Orsay – Emile Bernard’s Woman smoking a tambac (1900), van Gogh’s The dance hall in Arles (1888, above), and Monet’s Madame Louis Joachim Gaudibert (1868); Francis Picabia’s Animal trainer (1923), Man Ray’s Suicide (1926), and Henri Matisse’s Reader on black background (1939) from the Centre Pompidou; and some regional works, among them Joseph Aved’s Portrait of Mehmet Said Pasha (1742, left) from Château de Versailles.
Loans from regional institutions include Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Cabra (1981-82) from the collection of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The Guggenheim, incidentally, has been building up a decent collection in advance of its Abu Dhabi opening – in advance, indeed, on any building activity at all on Saadiyat – and it makes good sense for some of those warehoused artworks to be seen at the Louvre.
The acquisitions include:
♥ a monumental 175cm Avalokiteshvara Buddhist sculpture from China representing Guanyin, a divinity of compassion, made in the Buddhist classical form from the Song dynasty (960-1279)
♥ four tapestries depicting hunting parties of Archduke Maximilian, the Hapsburg duke of Brabant, commissioned by the Habsburg court from an original drawing by Bernard van Orley (1665-1674). This is a loan from Musée du Louvre
♥ a suit of Japanese Samurai armour bearing the crests of the Lord Nabeshima, feudal lord of Saga in Hizen, a masterpiece by famous armour maker Miyata Katsusada (1707-1730);
♥ a rare conical helmet from Mongolia or China (13th-14th CE), part of a medieval suit of armour reflecting Ottoman turban helmets
♥ a Phoenix-headed ewer (ok, it’s a jug) from the Tang Dynasty, China (8th CE) in white earthenware with a three-coloured glaze
♥ a rock crystal knife with a jewelled parrot from India (ca. 1600), a ceremonial knife that is as much a piece of jewellery as it is a weapon
♥ a katar dagger from India (18th CE, right) inlaid with 481 rubies and almost a hundred emeralds, a weapon worn at court as a symbol of wealth and power
And from the Middle East:
♥ a rare albarello (a type of jar) from Syria or Egypt (14th -15thC CE), used for medicines or perfumes. These ceramics of the Mamluk period were influenced by the Chinese Yuan dynasty (1268-1644)
♥ a three medallion Mamluk carpet from Egypt (late 15thC CE), named after its characteristic decoration. This is an exceptional and rare example of court workshop in Cairo, made in the style of the typical Moorish decoration seen in stucco or woodcarving at that time
♥ Ottoman horse armour (15-16thC CE) bearing the mark of the imperial Ottoman arsenal in Istanbul, one of fewer than twenty known examples
♥ a Mamluk basin from Egypt or Syria (late 13th or early 14th CE, below left), an example of the early inlaid metalwork technique that flourished under the Mamluks
Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Children’s Museum will get two new loans from Musée du Louvre: an Egyptian Cat’s Mummy (Late Period) and an Askos in the Shape of a Duck (4th-1st century BCE). These loans will be part of the Children’s Museum’s new exhibition Animals: Between Real and Imaginary, which runs to July 2019 and explores how animals have been represented throughout history across many eras and regions.
The new displays in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent galleries will be unveiled ahead of the museum’s first anniversary. That will also see a two-day symposium, Worlds in a Museum, discussing the future of contemporary museography in a globalised world – essentially Louvre AD’s raison d’être.
The museum’s permanent galleries are complemented by its ongoing exhibitions. Currently there’s the rather good Japanese Connections: The Birth of Modern Décor, which traces the influence of the Japanese Ukiyo-e aesthetic on French artists and modern French décor. That runs to 24 November.
A special edition of the touring exhibition Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia opens on 8 November. The title says it all, except that this version will feature additional artefacts from the UAE that are displayed for the first time “highlighting the shared history of the two nations”.
More information: www.louvreabudhabi.ae.