The Célébrités du juste milieu were modelled by Honoré Daumier between 1832 and 1835. They are a unique collection of 36 caricatures in unfired clay (and include the busts of 26 members of parliament ) and they are of fundamental importance in the history of nineteenth century sculpture. When their restoration is complete, they will be back on view to the public at a preview exhibition to be held in 2003.
One of the Fondation BNP Paribas' aims in the support it provides to museums via the BNP Paribas Art and Art Collection Programme ("Museums and Monuments of France") is to help the public to discover, appreciate and enjoy the largest possible number of works of art that have suffered from the ravages of time.
Over the past three years, thanks to this remarkable and ambitious project, the public has had an opportunity to rediscover forty-eight paintings by famous artists on show at regional museums, more recently Veronese's "Christ at Supper with Simon", one of the treasures of the Salon d'Hercule in the Château de Versailles, and the same room's "Apotheosis of Hercules" ceiling painted by François Lemoyne (previewed on 13 and 14 May 2001).
In view of the success of this original form of sponsorship, BNP Paribas and Musées de France decided to renew their partnership (initially scheduled to last three years) beyond 2001.
The restoration of works of art is carried out under the direction of Musées de France's Centre for Restoration and Research with the cooperation of its laboratory for photos, X-rays and pictorial analysis. It is a multidisciplinary enterprise, which includes historical research, examination of the physical state of the work of art, preparation of a scientific report and, finally, the actual restoration work. Once the latter has been completed, a detailed report of all the measures taken is produced.
BNP Paribas is proud of what it is doing, through the Fondation BNP Paribas, to encourage the restoration of works of art that are lying neglected in our museums and hopes in this way to contribute towards the preservation, appreciation and rediscovery of our cultural heritage.