Masterpieces by Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse will be among the 300 artworks to be loaned from French museums to the Louvre Abu Dhabi for its December 2015 opening.
The £400m museum will feature paintings and sculptures from 13 French cultural institutions, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of an Unknown Woman, Claude Monet’s Saint Lazare Station and Andy Warhol’s Big Electric Chair as well as ancient statues, vases and masks from across Asia and Africa.
The loaned works will join the permanent collection of Louvre Abu Dhabi, which will be the first universal museum to open in the Arab world.
“This will be the first time many of these works will travel to Abu Dhabi or even the Middle East, and are a rare opportunity to see important art from French museums,” said Sultan bin Tahnoon al-Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, which is behind the project.
Many of France’s most famous museums including the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and the Palace of Versailles will lend art to Abu Dhabi as part of a 30-year collaboration with the Emirate, worth £800m.
French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin said the loaning of the works was “an acknowledgement of both the extraordinary richness of our national collections and the expertise of our museums”.
In 2007, Abu Dhabi paid £323m to use the prestigious Louvre name. A model replica of the new Arab museum went on display at its French parent gallery last year in an in an exhibition called ‘The Birth of a Museum’, which showcased a selection of what will eventually become the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection.
Other artworks to be loaned from France are Titian’s The Woman with a Mirror, Jacques-Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps and Edouard Manet’s The Fife Player.
A French source told AFP that the normally-conservative Emirate had not censored any nudity or religious symbolism that appear in the donated works.
The 700,000 sq ft, Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi will be one of the centrepieces of a new cultural metropolis on Saadiyat Island, a once uninhabited stretch of coastal desert close to the city centre. It will open next year alongside a new York University campus and a Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim.
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