A still-life by 18th-century French painter Jean Siméon Chardin sold to a U.S. art dealer for an artist record of €24.3m ($26.8 million) in Paris last week. The sale has now been put on hold by the Louvre.
The Louvre’s director, Laurence des Cars, told Le Figaro that she has requested that Basket of Wild Strawberries be classed as “a national treasure”, and is seeking funds to buy it, reports The Art Newspaper.
Exhibited at the Salon of 1761, the painting of a humble mound of strawberries, Chardin's only such work depicting the fruit, was a star piece in the Marcille collection. After a major bidding battle, Paris-based Artcurial sold it to New York-based Old Masters dealer Adam Williams.
Due to the Louvre's request, the painting's export license is now delayed, maybe up to two years, according to French law.
Funding for the Chardin and other acquisitions could be impacted by the Louvre's loss of ticketing revenue as attendance has dropped by about 70% during the past two years of pandemic, according to The Art Newspaper. (The Louvre has the highest museum attendance in the world with 2.83 million visitors in 2021, still well-below pre-pandemic levels, per reports.)
The Louvre earlier stated an intent to acquire a rediscovered panel by Cimabue, The Mocking of Christ, purchased by a Chilean billionaire at Actéon auctions for €19.5m ($26.8m) in 2020.