A room at the Fondation Custodia in Paris. & Nbsp;
A room at the Fondation Custodia in Paris. (GARDEL BERTRAND / HEMIS.FR VIA AFP)

The word “patronage” comes from the name of Caius Cilnius Mæcenas, protector of arts and letters in ancient Rome. It has become, in everyday language, the name given to a natural or legal person supporting with his financial means a cultural project or an artist.

A of the first patrons in the world was Princess Isabeau of Bavaria in the Middle Ages. Patronage had its golden age during the Italian Renaissance period. Among others, the Medici family of Florence, including Laurent the Magnificent, strongly supported artists including Michelangelo and the philosopher and humanist Pic de la Mirandole (Giovanni Pico della Mirandola). Europe had great patrons at this time, the Dutch Niclaes Jonghelinck for example, and in France, King François Ier, his welcome from Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Lucé.


During the Micro European Today, Ger Luijtent of the Fondation Custodia evokes the example of Frits Lugt (Amsterdam, May 4, 1884 – Paris, July 15, 1970), collector and self-taught art historian, founder of the Dutch Institute and of the Foundation Custodia in Paris. This example of a patron who chose Paris to create his foundation there is specific to the will of patrons, European or from across the Atlantic, who have always favored Europe to make it a showcase for whatever art it may be.

Frits Lugt has notably published catalogs of French collections of drawings from schools in the North. In the field of the history of collections, his works The brands of drawings and prints collections and Directory of sales catalogs are reference tools. Marrying Jacoba Klever (1888-1969) the daughter of a great Dutch industrialist in 1910, Jacoba Klever inherited an immense fortune in 1935 which would grant the Lugts financial independence. It enabled Frits to acquire his art collection. It was in 1947 that the Lugts created the Fondation Custodia and the Institut Néerlandais in Paris, at 121, rue de Lille in Paris. Their intention is openness to knowledge and discovery of art for all, therefore an ambition of sharing, and also the dispersal of their collection after their death.

Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen-Bornemisza, who died on April 27, 2002, is behind a collection of 1,600 works of art, many of which are accessible to the public. Since 1992, 780 have been exhibited at the ThyssenBornemisza Museum in Madrid and in Barcelona at the Monastery of Pedralbes, and another 150 are still kept in the family’s Ticino residence.


He was one of the greatest collectors and patrons of French art of the early 20th century. Sergeï Chtchoukine was a great Russian industrialist, who befriended great art dealers such as Paul Durand-Ruel, Ambroise Vollard, Berthe Weill, Eugène Druet, Clovis Sagot, Georges Bernheim, Daniel HenryKahnweiler, and also great painters , such as Henri Matisse or Picasso.

Its collection is made up of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Modern masters, Monet, Cézanne, Gauguin, Rousseau, Derain, Matisse or Picasso, Degas, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh. This collection also offers the beginning of the Cubo-Futurist, Suprematist and Constructivist movements, Malevich, Rodtchenko, Larionov, Tatline, Popova, Rozanova. The last retrospective of Sergeï Chtchoukine dates from the Franco-Russian year 2016-2017.

Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian (Armenian Գալուստ Սարգիս Կիւլպէնկեան) is an Armenian financier known for bequeathing his art collection to a Portuguese foundation, now the Calouste-Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. It was one of the first world art collections which can be found today in the Calouste-Gulbenkian Museum. This museum brings together works from Antiquity until the beginning of the 20th century, i.e. 6,000 pieces including Egyptian art, Greco-Roman art, art from the Islamic East and art from the Far East, as well as numismatics, painting , European sculpture and decorative arts. Masters are gathered there such Rubens, Rembrandt, Turner, Degas, the jewels of René Lalique, among others …


The family of Count Moïse de Camondo from Istanbul, ennobled by the King of Italy in 1867, is an example of what patronage can represent. Having opted for France out of love and passion for French culture, the “Camondo”, as they are called, were decisive in the birth of the French industrial revolution under Napoleon III.

Important financiers, they were great art collectors. As proof, Moïse de Camondo, collector of 18th century French art, had his paternal mansion razed after the latter’s death in 1911, in order to build a house where style and surface blend with its collection of furniture, paintings and works of art from the 18th century. On the death of his son Nissim, during the war of 14-18, Moïse decided to bequeath his mansion the Central Union of Decorative Arts, to the city of Paris.

Thus, from the end of the First World War until 1935, he enriched his collection in order to bequeath the expression of 18th century French art, visible today at the Nissim-de-Camondo Museum in Paris. If the descendants of Moïse de Camondo, through his daughter Béatrice (1894-1944), who became Mme Léon Reinach, disappeared in deportation, the cousin of Moïse donated to the Louvre Museum the prestigious “Camondo legacy”, an exceptional collection of 18th century furniture. century and around fifty paintings by Impressionist masters, including the famous Fife player by Manet.


Peggy Guggenheim is an American patron, modern art collector and gallery owner, a very early friend of Marcel Duchamp and Jean Cocteau. She was one of the women who acquired an understanding of abstract art and she was the founder of the museum where the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is housed in the Venier dei Leoni palace on the Grand Canal in Venice.

His father, Benjamin Guggenheim, will disappear in the sinking of the Titanic, and his uncle Solomon R. Guggenheim will be the creator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the artist Hilla Rebay, German painter and specialist in abstract art, in 1937. In 1936 she founded a gallery in London, exhibiting Brancusi. Later she will meet Jean Arp, from whom she will acquire a work which will be the first of her collection, then Vassily Kandinsky will come.

Thus was born the Peggy Guggenheim collection which can be admired in Venice. The action of patrons is also a work of art in order to preserve a heritage that is unique in the world, which very often cannot be acquired for the benefit of national museums, states, this is also Europe.