In an article (A Toulouse, la Fondation Bemberg rouvre, April 2) in Le Figaro, Philippe Motta reports on the reopening of a museum in Toulouse, the Fondation Bemberg, which was damaged in the terrible explosion at the AZF chemical factory there. (Because that explosion occurred on September 21, 2001, it received very little coverage here in the United States. Here are some pictures of the effects of the explosion.) According to the article:
The foundation saw in this disaster an opportunity to review the arrangement of its galleries, while at the same time expanding its existing collection. The museum is a Renaissance treasure tucked away in old Toulouse. Built for a rich pastel-maker in 1555, the Hôtel de Pierre d'Assézat left the hands of that illustrious family and disappeared from notice at the end of the 19th century. It was not until the end of the 20th that, little by little, a new benefactor revived it and revealed its splendor by decorating it with the jewels of a unique art collection. Erudite, lover of literature, pianist, and composer Georges Bemberg was familiar with the cosmopolitan destiny of an heir of a great European family. Without ever stopping his writing, he left his piano closed and undertook as his quest the work that is the domain of few men: a collection.When Bemberg began to think about where his collection would go when he died, he searched around Europe. He admired the Hôtel d'Assézat and offered his artwork to the city of Toulouse, on the condition that the building would be refurbished as a museum for it. A look through the images available on their excellent Web site reveals a collection including works by Canaletto, Guardi, Van der Weyden, de Hooch, Jean Clouet, Cranach, Veronese, Tintoretto, Gauguin, Fantin-Latour, Picasso, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Especially impressive is the room full of paintings by Vuillard and Rouault, a nice Dérain (La clairière), Monet's Bateaux sur la plage à Etretat (Boats on the beach at Etretat), and a room full of paintings by Pierre Bonnard. The building itself is quite extraordinary (pictures shown here), which makes this little jewel of a museum (which I have not yet seen) well worth a visit, now that the damage done to it has been repaired.