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Testimonial of Mr Boeringer
Former Commercial Director at the Louvre and of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Director of the Festival of Le Touquet, France

Testimonial of Mr Boeringer

Photo left: Christian Boeringer et Alain Godon in Central Park


The feeling of déjà vu!


The first time I met Alain Godon was at the Louvre Museum. We had arranged, through my eldest daughter, to meet in front of the entrance to the Richelieu wing on the rue de Rivoli, opposite the Palais Royal.  I had had a glimpse of his very original style and work from the catalogues I had been shown, but was yet to meet the man whom I had only seen in a few photos.


Knowing that I had access to the Louvre and that I was really passionate about this magical place, a temple to Culture, Alain Godon, as yet unfamiliar with the new galleries and their paintings, had asked me if I would agree to be his guide that afternoon.


And so it was that I found myself, a little early as is my custom, on the pavement of the rue de Rivoli staring at the faces in the crowds, which were moving in time and at the pace of the three colours of the traffic lights. I was looking at all the slightly bohemian men, who were young with shoulder length hair and a small beard and who looked as though they were preparing to be swallowed up within the shadows of the Richelieu alley way. Eventually I saw a young man with long, wavy hair and a goatee looking as though he had stepped straight out of a novel with capes and swords, or, perhaps indeed, out of a film; it was him and he was on time!  At that same moment, I had the fleeting impression that I had seen him before…


With just over a couple of hours to spare and having plunged straight into History whilst walking along the ditches of the castle of Philippe Auguste, we decided that we would take a look at the masterpieces of French painting that hang on the walls of the second floor of the Sully Pavillon and then continue on to the galleries dedicated to the artists of the Northern schools.


Having left behind the noisy throngs gathered below the pyramid, we found ourselves in a peaceful calm, with no danger of being either bothered or jostled and able to contemplate at leisure the works of Fragonard, Watteau, Boucher, Le Nain, La Tour, Chardin, Ingres… which are no competition, in terms of fame, for the Mona Lisa.


Hardly a soul in front of the Van Eycks, Rembrandts, Rubens,…. and, standing in front of “The Astronomer” and “The Lacemaker”, on display for us alone, Alain confided in me of the love and admiration he had always had for Vermeer.


“When I think nearly 20 years ago I was on the pavement just opposite, near the metro, drawing on the pavement to earn a few pennies in order to make a living.” This sentence, uttered almost sotto voce by Alain as we were taking our leave opposite the Place du Palais Royal, instantly rekindled a memory hidden away in the back of my mind.


In the course of my years spent working in the Louvre, I used to pass by the “copyists”, their easels standing in front of the painting for which they had received an “authorisation to copy”.  I would often stop and admire their work and exchange a few words with the amateur, or professional, artist.


At this same time, it was common on the Place du Palais Royal to see Greek and Roman statues as well as Egyptian mummies draped in fabric and covered in white paint and talcum powder; after a long period of remaining static they would suddenly move and cause a start of surprise from the casual onlookers.  Amongst these intermittent, in the strictest sense of the word, performers, I noticed one day a young man crouching on the ground and drawing straight onto the tarmac with his coloured chalks; it was easy to recognise  “Jupiter and Thetis” by Ingres.


I have no idea as to when he had started on this copy of the work, a post card reproduction by his side, but even then this work of art was well advanced.  A crowd had gathered around the young man and everyone was admiring in silence the invisible process that passes between the artist’s eye and his hand as he adds his strokes of colour.  I saw the same man several evenings in a row until he had finished his picture; I do remember that I spoke to him and told him how liked it.  A few days later, a rainy night would wash away this masterpiece and, much to the loss of the “quartier’s” regulars, the artist was never to appear again.


Who would have thought that some twenty years later I would be able to put a name to this young and talented artist, who all those years ago had been nameless?



Christian Boeringer

Former Director at the Louvre and of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 

Director of the Festival of Le Touquet, France