The beginning of a friendship

Most often it is difficult to date the beginning of a friendship, although I clearly remember that summer of 1981 when my professional obligations led me to, as Jacques Perrin may say, interfere with the course of his business.

At the time we were graciously and happily complying with a clever legislation which led us every Wednesday to the rue Léon Jouhaux to inspect about all antique pieces to be exported. Our responsibility was to identify the pieces of foremost importance for our national heritage, and ask the State to meet their buying price.

That particular Wednesday my colleague Gérard Mabille was in charge of exportation control and immediately recognized the importance, as had Jacques previously, of a significant pair of vases Jacques was planning to ship to American clients. This magnificent pair of soft-paste Sèvres porcelain vases with two handles was dated, a rare fact among vases at the Sèvres manufacture, from 1769. Shaped as a rostrale column, their amazing «inlaid» décor of polychrome flowers was painted directly onto a very distinguished blue background instead of more commonly within a white cartouche as most were, immediately catching the attention of Gérard. Further research led by Serge Grandjean and Pierre Ennes, coupled with the vases unique shape and rarity of décor, confirmed the importance of these pieces created by Jacques Bachelier, head of the painting workshop at the Manufacture.

We decided against the exportation of these vases and tried to purchase them. The acquisition I suggested in October was granted and the vases are now exhibited in the Louvre. I did not know Jacques at that time. This episode gave me the opportunity to appreciate the kindness and elegance that characterize him. Although faced with a delicate situation with his American clients by my fault, he nevertheless did not interfere and displayed no animosity. On the contrary throughout the years he has always helped museums, and facilitated their purchasing policies. He also demonstrated his friendship on numerous occasions.

Daniel Alcouffe Conservateur général honoraire au Musée du Louvre