De Courbet à Matisse
from March 13 to June 12, 2005
On December 2, 2004, Hélène Senn-Foulds donated her grandfather Olivier Senn's extraordinary collection of art to the City of Le Havre. A unique collection of 71 paintings, 120 prints and drawings, and 5 sculptures, the donation was displayed in public for the first time during the exhibition "De Courbet à Matisse, la Donation Senn-Foulds" held at the Musée Malraux from March 13 to June 12, 2005.
Le Havre-born Olivier Senn was a cotton merchant who developed a passion for art at a young age and quickly became involved in the cultural life of the city. He joined the Société des Amis des Arts in 1896 and was a founding member of the Cercle de l'Art Moderne in 1906, alongside other important collectors like Charles-Auguste Marande (who donated his collection to the museum in 1936) and artists such as Dufy, Braque and Friesz. A knowledgeable collector, Olivier Senn had a keen eye for the most innovative currents on the art scene.
He began building his collection around 1890–1900 and continued purchasing artworks until the late 1930s. A "Renoir fanatic", as one of his friends liked to call him, he soon demonstrated a preference for Impressionist painters and landscape art. He gradually added to his collection, seizing opportunities as they arose (public auctions, encounters), strengthening the number of Impressionist works (Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Monet, Guillaumin) and carefully choosing major Pre-Impressionist works (Delacroix, Courbet, Corot) to complement them. He also opened the collection to the Neo-Impressionists (Cross), the Nabis (Sérusier, Vallotton, Bonnard, Vuillard) and the Fauves (Marquet, Matisse). He also had a strong sensibility for the art of drawing, acquiring an extraordinary set of over 40 early drawings by Edgar Degas, as well as watercolours and pastels by Boudin, Guillaumin and Cross, and ink drawings by Marquet.