The Collector of Avignon: the Calvet Museum

Calvet Museum, Musée Calvet, Avignon, France

Like other museums in Avignon in 2018, the Calvet had their collection raided for an exhibition at the Pope’s Palace by Christian Lacroix.  I had thought that this sounded like the most interesting museum in the city, but I think maybe Mr Lacroix’s excellent selection of goodies somewhat depleted the Calvet…

The building itself is very attractive – the hotel Villeneuve-Martignan, built in 1749 for Jacques-Ignace de Villeneuve, bought by the city in 1833 to house the collection of Esprit Calvet.  Calvet was a great collector, but a doctor by training.  He bequeathed his library, collection of natural history and a cabinet of antiquities to his home town of Avignon in 1810 – and, with amazing foresight and good sense, he also left properties which would provide an income that could be used to maintain and increase the collection.  The Calvet Foundation was founded by imperial decree by Napoleon in 1811.   It now runs this museum, as well as six others in Avignon and Cavaillon, including the Petit Palais, the Lepidary (which annoyingly we didn’t get to, because that concentrates on ancient objects) and the Requien (natural history) along with a few others.

Resurrection of Christ, 1456/7, Johann Koerbecke, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

St Michael, end of 15th century, South Tyrol, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Cortege of a country wedding, after Jan Brueghel the Elder, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Cortege of a country wedding, after Jan Brueghel the Elder, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

La Kermess villageoise with a play and procession, from the circle of Pieter Brueghel the Younger, after Pieter Balten, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

La Kermess villageoise with a play and procession, from the circle of Pieter Brueghel the Younger, after Pieter Balten, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Portrait of a man with a red beard, c1533, previously attributed to Holbein, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Child blowing soap bubbles, 17th century, Jacob Adriaensz. Backer, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

The Palace of the Popes in Avignon, 1845, Jules-Romain Joyant, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

The Palace of the Popes in Avignon, 1845, Jules-Romain Joyant, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Vue d’Avignon and the St Bénézet Bridge, 19th century, Isidore Dagnan, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Portrait of Esprit Calvet (retrospective), 1839, Eugene Devéria, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Inside the Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Female mummy of Djed-Mout-ioues-ankh, “Singer of Amon Re and guardian and nurse of Khonsou”, 21st dynasty, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Stele showing a boat, 18th dynasty, Abydos, Egypt, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Stele showing a boat, 18th dynasty, Abydos, Egypt, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Shabti for Pa-nefer-neferou, end of 21st dynasty, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Syro-Palestinian stele, dedicated to the god Rechep, 19th dynasty, the reign of Ramses II, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Funerary stele of the grand priest of Ptah, Ptahmose, 18th dynasty, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Funerary mask from Fayum, c117-136AD, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

The Egyptian room in the Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Stool with lion-feet feet, 18th dynasty, wood and leather (the seat is modern), Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Pseudo statue of Hori, scribe royal, 14th dynasty, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Medallion with the head of Ammon, 1st century AD, Gallo-Roman, found in Caderousse, in the ruins of a sacellum, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

The vandalised head of Serapis, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Bust of Serapis, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Bust of Serapis, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Dedication referring to Germanicus, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Portrait of Giuseppina Grassini, c 1820/5, Élizabeth Vigée-le-Brun, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Portrait of an old lady and a little girl, 1814, Louis Marie Sicardi, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Entry into a port in the calm, 1777, Joseph Vernet, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

The market in the Place Pie in Avignon, 1868, Pierre Grivolas, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Detail of The market in the Place Pie in Avignon, 1868, Pierre Grivolas, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

The Reader, 1716/28, Jean Raoux, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Portrait of Joseph-François-Xavier de Seytres, marquis de Caumont, c1745, Jean Valade, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

Portrait of Emile Joseph-Rignault at the age of 20, 1894, Jules Valadon, Calvet Museum, Avignon, France

So In Summary

I don’t know why, but I didn’t really feel this museum.  Some of the objects were lovely, as was the building.  I guess it would have a different vibe when it gets that big chunk of its collection back from Lacroix’s exhibition, but as it was I couldn’t help but feel very disengaged from it.

Further Information

It is free to enter the museum.

The website is naturally only in French: www.musee-calvet.org

How To Get There

The museum is a an easy and a fairly straightforward walk from the train station.  There is a website for the bus service which has information in English: www.tcra.fr

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