A man of taste and culture, Carl Gustaf Tessin performed the duties of Swedish ambassador to Paris between 1739 and 1742. During these three years, he was passionately devoted to building a very rich collection of paintings and drawings (Boucher, Dürer, Rembrandt, etc.), now preciously conserved at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.
The Louvre’s tribute to this Swede in Paris in the 18th century boasts a spectacular selection of around a hundred artworks, some of which, such as The Triumph of Venus by François Boucher, are returning to Paris for the first time since Tessin purchased them. The exhibition also provides a glimpse into the art market and Parisian tastes in the mid-18th century.
Politician and man of the court, diplomat, artist, writer, and historian, Count Carl Gustaf Tessin was well received in both court and city life, and had many friends such as the art collector Pierre Jean Mariette and the painter François Boucher. Tessin made the rounds of the shops, auctions, and Parisian artist studios to acquire an exceptional collection that revealed both the tastes of one man and the artistic emulation that reigned in Paris from 1730 to 1740. Upon return to Sweden, riddled with debts, Carl Gustaf Tessin was forced in 1749 to part with his collection, most of which became the property of the Swedish Crown.
Of outstanding quality, the artworks selected for this exhibition are arranged chronologically and by theme to show how Tessin collected such a large number of drawings and paintings by the most renowned artists from France (Boucher, Natoire, and Oudry) and abroad (Dürer, Rembrandt, Carracci, etc.), as well as fashionable furnishings and decorative objects. He was one of the principal buyers at the great Crozat sale of 1741, thereby establishing the heart of his collection: Italian primitive artists in the Vasari collection, Flemish and German primitive artists, studies by Primaticcio for Fontainebleau, the Venetian, Bolognese, and French schools, and above all Flemish and Dutch drawings.
Organized by: Magnus Olausson, Director of Collections and Research, and Carina Fryklund, Curator, Department of Prints and Drawings, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.
Xavier Salmon, Director, Department of Prints and Drawings, Guillaume Faroult, Executive Curator, Department of Paintings, and Juliette Trey, Curator, Department of Prints and Drawings, Musée du Louvre.