The collections of the Musée de Douai are made up of numerous paintings, sculptures, objets d’art and graphic artworks dating from the late Middle Ages to the current day. Initially, the collections were built up from works seized during the French Revolution from the castles, churches and monasteries of the Douai region (such as Jean Bellegambe’s polyptych).
During the nineteenth century, the collections flourished thanks to legacies from private donors: sculptor Théophile Bra donated his studio collection in 1852 which included statues, sketches and drawings; Dr Escallier donated 176 Flemish and Dutch paintings in 1857; Foucques de Wagnonville donated a large collection he had amassed in Italy in 1877 and Jean-Baptiste Fortier donated a large sum of money which enabled the acquisition of works of art by Veronese, Rubens, Courbet and Jules Breton.
In addition to these bequests and donations, the museum has acquired works through salons or art fairs organized by the Amis des arts de Douai, as well as auctions (Carpeaux, Rodin, Sisley, Pissarro, Denis, Cross, etc.). Works by le Maître de la Manne, Ruisdael, Chassériau and Corot were added to the museum’s collections through loans from the French government collection.
The museum’s collections were hit badly by the devastation of the two world wars, particularly in the bombings of 11 August 1944. The ethnographical collection (including the rich Berthoud collection) and the natural science collection were completely destroyed.
The museum’s collections continue to be added to today, thanks to numerous donations and acquisitions (Boucher, Greuze, Bellegambe, pieces by local goldsmiths), and by orders commissioned to contemporary artists (Cabane rouge aux miroirs by Daniel Buren, displayed since 2006 in the cloister of La Chartreuse).
Bequeathed to the city of Douai in 1977 by Thérèse Hervieu, daughter of Augustin Boutique and Cécile Grard, the Boutique collection includes 25,000 photographs on glass plates dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The photo library has been enriched by other funds, old photograph collections, particularly the Baron-Gallois collection, composed of glass plates and films shot between 1882 and 1950.
Located in new premises on the first floor of 191 Rue Saint-Albin, this unique collection devoted to the recent history of the Douai region has been the focus of temporary and annual thematic exhibitions, both within the museum itself and in various off-site locations. The collection is available to consult by appointment.
Wishing to collaborate with other museums, the Musée de la Chartreuse regularly loans works from its permanent collections (primarily French nineteenth-century paintings) to other national and international institutions.
As restoration work most often takes place outside of La Chartreuse, certain works cannot be viewed by the general public, e.g., the Portrait équestre de Louis XIV by Charles Le Brun and his school is currently under restoration at C2RMF (Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France / French Centre of Research and Restoration). The work is scheduled to be fully restored by the end of 2015.
The Musée de la Chartreuse is currently carrying out an inventory of its collections, at the end of which, by late-2015, its entire collection will be available to consult on line on Musenor (regional database) and Joconde (database belonging to the French Ministry of Culture and Communication). It is already possible to consult numerous works by clicking on the links below:
Ministère de la Culture (French Ministry of Culture)
• Joconde Base
The museum also houses two MNR paintings (MNR stands for Musées Nationaux Récupération and refers to artworks spoliated during the second world war).
These two paintings are: Dead hare by Jan Fyt (MNR 504) and The village fete by Adrian Brouwer (MNR 417). We are interested in knowing all information linked to the provenience of these works, which are displayed in the museum (firstname.lastname@example.org).