A few days ago an investigation by the French newspaper Le Figaro hypothesized with many arguments that a painting of great value thought lost or destroyed in the First World War, Diana and Endymion by the French painter Jérôme-Martin Langlois, is currently in the house of the singer Madonna: the painting belonged to the city of Amiens in northern France, which has now asked Madonna to lend it to her for the whole of 2028, the year in which the city aspires to become the European Capital of Culture.
According to Le Figaro’s reconstruction, Madonna regularly bought the painting (or a practically identical copy of it, one can’t be sure before analyzing it) at an auction in New York in 1989 for 1.3 million dollars, which at that time moment was triple its estimated value. The painting was neither signed by Langlois nor dated: no one recognized it until 2015, when an art curator in Amiens noticed it in the background of a photo taken of Madonna in her home and published by the French magazine Paris Match.
The mayor of Amiens, Brigitte Fouré, has sent a public message to Madonna in which she explains that she does not question the legitimacy of her ownership of the painting, but at the same time asks her to lend it to the city, in order to make it more competitive to be chosen as “European Capital of Culture”: an initiative of the European Union for which a different capital of culture is elected every year, with the aim of promoting and enhancing the artistic heritage of some particular cities internationally.
“Madonna, you probably don’t know the city of Amiens, of which I have the honor of being mayor, but for a few days now a particular bond has been created between you and our city,” said Fouré in a message published on his Facebook profile. «I would very much like it if in 2028 you could lend us the painting, so that the inhabitants of Amiens can rediscover the work and appreciate it». Madonna has not yet responded to the request, nor to the questions of the international newspapers that have tried to contact her.
The picture was commissioned from Langlois in 1819 by the French king Louis XVIII, who then placed it in Diana’s salon in the palace of Versailles, the former residence of the kings of France a few kilometers from Paris. In 1873 it was bought by the French state and then ended up in the Louvre, which is believed to have lent it to Amiens before World War I, Fouré said. During the war, traces of it were lost, and for a long time it was thought that it had been destroyed during the bombings.
It represents Diana, Roman goddess of the Hunt and the Moon, and the shepherd Endymion. According to some versions of the myth, Diana had fallen in love with Endymion, described as very beautiful, and had asked her father Jupiter, king of the gods, to put him to sleep forever so that she could contemplate him every night, being she a chaste goddess and having to limit her wish. In other versions she Diana merely contemplates him every night while she sleeps, for the same reasons.
The work shows the contemplation of Diana. It was a subject much represented, and by many painters, between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, above all because it was considered very suitable for bedroom furnishings.
Leave a Reply