The Louvre said Friday it had raised enough money from public donors to buy Lucas Cranach’s “The Three Graces” in time for Christmas, describing the German 16th-century masterpiece as a work of "astonishing perfection".
AFP - The Louvre said Friday it can now buy a 16th-century German painting of three naked women after thousands of people went online to donate the extra million euros the Paris museum appealed for.
Five thousand donors contributed after the prestigious museum set up a website last month to call for funds to buy the Renaissance painting of "The Three Graces" by Lucas Cranach the elder, the museum said.
The small work, painted in 1531 and always privately owned, shows three women against a dark background, wearing nothing but necklaces and, for the central figure, a red hat.
Critics praise the masterpiece as an ironic reworking of the popular Renaissance theme of the three graces.
The owners, who have had the painting since 1932, were asking for four million euros (5.3 million dollars) for the work.
The Louvre had already collected three million euros from corporate donors and its own funds but needed the extra million to buy the painting, which it says is remarkable for its "astonishing perfection."
"It's a magnificent Christmas present" for the Louvre, said the museum's director Henri Loyrette. "It's a lovely surprise. We didn't think that it would be that fast."
The Louvre was automatically first in the queue to raise the cash for the picture, which had been given national treasure status, with a deadline of January 31.
Most of the donors were French and gave between one and 40,000 euros. A dozen small French and foreign companies also contributed, the museum said.
"The donors are all ages -- from eight to 96," said Loyrette. "A quarter of the donations were... dedicated to a deceased person, to a new-born, to a loved one, or they celebrated the award of a diploma."
The painting will be displayed in a dedicated room in the museum from March 2 until April 4 next year and all donors' names will be listed on panels in the room.
"The Three Graces" will then become part of the permanent collection of the Louvre, the most visited art museum in the world, and join the galleries exhibiting German Renaissance paintings.
"This small oil on wood painting shows three female nudes painted with stunning sensuality and finesse," said the museum's website, praising its technical perfection and remarkable condition.
The Louvre made a similar appeal for donations to buy a work by the French painter Georges de La Tour in 1998.