France to sell some of nation's antique furniture to support hospitals

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About 100 objects dating from 19th century expected to be auctioned by Mobilier National

France is to sell off some of the nation’s antique furniture to support the country’s hard-pressed hospitals.

The Mobilier National – the national furniture collection – is drawing up a list of objects in storage that will be auctioned off in September.

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France | The Guardian

France is to sell off some of the nation’s antique furniture to support the country’s hard-pressed hospitals.

The Mobilier National – the national furniture collection – is drawing up a list of objects in storage that will be auctioned off in September.

It is not yet known exactly what will be sold and officials did not respond to requests for details, but French media reported that about 100 objects dating from the 19th century, particularly the reign of Louis-Philippe I between 1830 and 1848, will be selected.

The sale of “declassified” objects from the national collection is not unknown, but it is reportedly rare for such a large number to come on the market at the same time.

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The auction, organised to “contribute to the national effort to support hospitals”, will take place on the Journées du Patrimoine (heritage days) on the weekend of 20-21 September. Proceeds will go to the Foundation for Paris Hospitals and French Hospitals, whose president is the first lady, Brigitte Macron.

Hervé Lemoine, the director of the Mobilier National, said a list would be drawn up of furniture that had little heritage value and had not been used by anyone significant. The organisation’s curators would have to unanimously on what objects would be sold to avoid “squandering the family silver”, Lemoine told Le Figaro

The Mobilier National, which is responsible for furnishing official buildings including the Élysée Palace, contains more than 130,000 rugs, chandeliers, chairs, tables ceramics, porcelain, furnishings, desks and other objects. A year ago, it published details of 78,000 objects after being criticised by the state accountants, the Cours des Comptes, for its management of the collection.

To support French artisans and traditional creators during the coronavirus lockdown, Lemoine also announced the organisation, overseen by the culture ministry, would be commissioning new works and restoration projects.

“Our first action will be to commission work to restore all the national collection by appealing to all craftspeople,” he told FranceInfo. “The second will be to set up a special acquisitions committee to which young designers and creators can suggest their ideas and projects, that we can buy then make.”


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