We often imagine that the art market is aimed exclusively at private collectors. However, galleries collaborates on regular basis with museum institutions. Thus, since its opening in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près, the Galerie David Ghezelbash has had the privilege of collaborating with major French and international museums.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York
In 2017, while the gallery exhibited at the May edition of the fair Tefaf New York, David Ghezelbash chose to present for the first time an exceptional set of nine flints from the collection of Henri Jouillé (1886-1968) , Lawyer, who collected prehistoric pieces, thus creating one of the most important collections of Acheulean bifaces known to date.
Intended for a variety of tasks, Paleolithic hand axes are the oldest and most widely used tools by various hominid species, and have been documented for use over a period of over 1.7 million years.
These nine examples, all discovered in the Aisne region in France, are remarkable for their variety and the high quality of their manufacture. They are a powerful manifestation of an early and continuing human interest in perfection of form and aesthetics in general, as evidenced by the efforts of their creators to endow them with symmetrical faces and edges, far beyond practical requirements. Some of the larger bifaces in this group are so important that their tool function is unlikely. While their specific functions remain a matter of speculation, it is clear that they must have been appreciated for their appearance rather than their usefulness.It was during this show that David Ghezelbash met Pierre Terjanian, curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, who took an interest in this incredible collection and who, understanding its archaeological and historical interest, decided to acquire it for the museum.
About a year later, the Galerie David Ghezelbash was contacted by the Museum of National Archeology of Saint-Germain-en-Laye to work on the acquisition of a Roman military bronze mask that had belonged to the prestigious collection of the writer Henry de Montherlant. It represents the face of a young man surrounded by locks of curly hair. The remarkably processed facial features bring a touch of humanity, particularly the powerful, straight nose and the angular browbones surmounting almond-shaped eyes. Face helmets were worn by the elite cavalrymen of the Roman army between the early 1st century and the middle of the 2nd century AD. They were elements of prestige and power sometimes placed in the graves, alongside the deceased. Only ten have been listed in France.
Our visor was found in October 1908 near Conflans-en-Jarnisy (in Meurthe-et-Moselle) during the construction of a store. Very early on, it aroused the interest of archaeologists and was published by Paul Pedrizet, professor of classical archeology at the University of Nancy in 1911. Its various owners have been identified with almost certainty. Initially, it undoubtedly belonged to a retired officer from the Conflans region before entering the important collection of Dr Émile Coliez (Longwy, Meurthe-et-Moselle), particularly passionate about archeology. After the death of Dr Coliez, the mask remained in the family who tried several times to sell it to museums without success. It was Henry de Montherlant who acquired the piece in December 1941 for an amount of 50,000 francs. Passionate about the Greco-Roman world, the writer has assembled a collection of classical antiques. In a 1954 interview, he said he admired this mask, especially the side view. Evidenced by these photographs …
The mask remained in the Montherlant collection until November 2017 when the auction house Artcurial was commissioned to disperse the writer’s collection. The David Ghezelbash Gallery acquired the visor during this sale and, quickly, discussions began between the National Archaeological Museum and David Ghezelbash in order to work towards the acquisition of the visor. After being classified as a National Treasure, it was acquired for the museum’s collections where it will be analyzed, restored and presented to the public.
The David Ghezelbash Gallery also collaborates with international museums. Thus, during the gallery’s participation in Tefaf Maastricht in 2019, David Ghezelbash met the curators of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA) who noticed a torso of an Egyptian pharaoh in black granite of great finesse. Dated to the Ptolemaic period (circa 323-30 BC), this slender torso is dressed in a loincloth called a chendjit and carries a papyrus scroll in each hand. Although the head is incomplete, we can still observe the two sides of the nemes, the pharaoh’s headdress, falling over the shoulders. Comparable sculptures were erected especially in temples where the pharaoh was worshiped as a god.
Once the gallery has provided all of the documentation for the work, the Boston Museum decides to reserve the torso at the show and begins the acquisition process. As with French museums, this is a procedure that lasts several months. The torso was sent to the United States for study before an acquisition committee finalized its inclusion in the museum’s collections.