Association of collectors
About the formidable Bueil & Ract-Madoux collection, built up by two childhood friends brought together by art, education and Jura roots.
The story told by L'Oeil magazine in its October issue is one of those that brightens up a rainy Sunday afternoon and delights the soul. It's one of those stories that makes you believe in a soft, muffled world where friendship lights the way far better than money. The kind that make you want to find yourself in the comforting bubble of well-born people who choose to give themselves the means to pass on art.
Two childhood friends who had lost touch at the dawn of their twenties meet up again by chance in their forties, discover their shared passion for collecting works of art, and decide in one fell swoop that their union will be their strength. And their happiness. Today, the Bueil & Ract-Madoux collection includes paintings by Delacroix, Courbet, Degas, Derain, Kupka, Picabia, Tobey, Tal Coat, Asse, Dubuffet, Reigl, Picasso, Vuillard, Bonnard, Kirkeby, Delprat... So obviously, it's a dream come true...
Jean-Gabriel de Bueil and Stanislas Ract-Madoux make no secret of the fact: they come from "good families". While Jean-Gabriel's father, an old-fashioned man from a Catholic and aristocratic family of the last century, came from Upper Normandy, his mother was from the Jura, from the de Broissia line, whose old family home in Blandans seems to defy Château-Chalon. It was in this house that little Jean-Gabriel spent every summer of his youth with his grandparents. "I grew up in a family where there were always works of art. That must have influenced my sensibilities", the now highly renowned Parisian restaurateur tells journalist Marie Potard. "I began to take an interest in books - my father was a bibliophile and as I lost him at a young age, it was an opportunity for me to recreate a link. This passion led me to buy entire libraries, which still contain boxes of drawings, photos and engravings... One thing led to another and I became interested in paintings.
Stanislas Ract-Madoux also owns an old family home in the Jura, just a few kilometres from Jean-Gabriel de Bueil's house. "I grew up with a father who was a gallery owner and I used to visit him every weekend. I've always been keen to collect stamps, posters and so on, and then I started buying works of art around twenty years ago, with a prism ranging from the inter-war period to the very contemporary, centred on abstraction. My first crush was a 1963 work by Geneviève Asse". Stanislas is convinced, however, that it is the roots he and Jean-Gabriel share that have given their collection its strength and uniqueness, over and above their interest in art. "The Jura has given body and substance to our history. In particular Courbet, but also Vuillard, both natives of the region and key figures in the collection.
What's more, while researching Courbet's La Vague, Stanislas Ract-Madoux discovered one day that his grandfather, Alfred Bouvet, who lived in Salins-les-Bain, was no less than one of Gustave Courbet's patrons! After a first professional experience in finance, the young man decided to devote the second to his true passion: art. Hence his auditor training at the Ecole du Louvre and Sotheby's Institute in 2015 and 2016. That was the year he met his childhood friend outside Chez Georges, the famous restaurant on the rue du Mail in Paris, which Jean-Gabriel de Bueil took over in 2010. And it was the same year that the de Bueil & Ract-Madoux collection was born.
Indeed, "two days later, we had lunch together, and the following Tuesday, we bought our first common work of art at the Salon du Dessin: Paysage de Saint-Tropez au Crépuscule, a small Fauve oil by Matisse from 1904", Stanislas Ract-Madoux recalls. The latter is currently on loan to the Fondation Gianadda in Switzerland, for the wonderful exhibition "Les Années Fauves", which runs until January 21, 2024 (and which I heartily recommend). "In the beginning, we were a force of proposition vis-à-vis the institutions," smiles Jean-Gabriel de Bueil. "Today, they're asking us for more. Being in contact with curators and commissioners is fundamental and very enriching. Before joining Stanislas, Jean-Gabriel de Bueil had "sensed the danger of certainty", and feared that collecting alone would lock him into an obsession and prevent him from progressing, but he has now found the ideal friendly association!
The de Bueil & Ract-Madoux collection has already collaborated on 67 institutional exhibitions to date, led by the Musée d'Orsay! "Our first loan was Fantin-Latour to the Musée du Luxembourg in 2016, with Le Toast! Hommage à la Vérité, from 1865 (final sketch of the destroyed painting)," recalls Stanislas Ract-Madoux. It is he who now devotes himself entirely to the collection of works of art made up of the favorites of the two friends and associates. He divides his time between exhibition management, research and public sales. "We don't have any rules when it comes to buying art, but we do it on a regular basis, at fairs, auctions and galleries," he explains to L'Oeil's journalist. "If one of us isn't physically present, we only buy if we both agree. Whatever happens, there's never any concession to please the other."
These two accomplices, for whom the art market holds no secrets, rely first and foremost on their emotions when faced with a work of art for sale. But after the aesthetic shock, other criteria guide their choice at the time of purchase, such as the provenance of the work, its date in reference to history, and its rarity. "Depending on these criteria, the value of a piece can vary considerably", notes Jean-Gabriel de Bueil. The Bueil & Ract-Madoux collection currently comprises some 300 works of art (paintings, sculptures and drawings) dating from the 19th century to the present day, and evolving each year through the resale of works of art and the purchase of new ones. The theme of the exhibition is "Modernity in the classic and the classic in the modern". For not only did these two decide one day to pool their two collections by bringing together the pieces they both liked, they also sought to theorize their approach. "And we realized that Jean-Gabriel was looking for modernity in the classic and I was looking for a certain form of classicism in the contemporary," notes Stanislas Ract-Madoux.
Shared values soon brought them together, too, with a policy of making donations to museums, "because our collection is a story of transmission", says Stanislas. In 2021, they donated Antoine Vollon's Falaise (1870) to the Musée d'Orsay. "We don't want this collection to get bogged down in the bourgeois concept of possession," says Jean-Gabriel. Their latest acquisition is a 1958 work by Judith Reigl. Congratulations, Jean-Gabriel!
Article written by Valibri en Roulotte
Illustration: Gustave Courbet, The Wave, 1870,
Image © Lyon MBA - Photo Alain Basset