This historic acquisition will bring King François I’s Book of Hours, an outstanding artwork, back to France. Last year, this unique masterpiece, listed as a French National Treasure, has been put up for sale by its London owner. In order to add it to the French national collections, the Louvre initiated a campaign to raise 8 million pounds (about 10 million euros). On October 15, 2017 the Musée du Louvre launched a major crowdfunding campaign aimed at individuals and companies in the hope of raising 1 million euros before February 15.
Thanks to an exceptional response from 8,500 individual donors and active support from LVMH luxury group, the eighth “Tous Mécènes!” crowdfunding campaign successfully closed as The Book of Hours of King François I joined the permanent collections of the Louvre.
This book of hours (prayer book), a manuscript bound in gold and precious stones, is an unparalleled treasure of French precious metalwork. It was presented by King François I to his niece Jeanne d’Albret, who was raised under his guardianship at the French court. Small prayers books were everyday objects, but this one is remarkably elaborate. Its later owners included King Henri IV and Cardinal Mazarin.
King François I’s Book of Hours is a unique vestige of the treasures of the House of Valois, dispersed in their entirety over the centuries. The book became the property of collectors in England in the early 18th century; its acquisition by the Louvre, for a total of around 10 million euros, will bring this Renaissance masterpiece back to France.
Thanks to the exceptional generosity of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, half of the required sum has been obtained.
The latest campaign in the “Tous Mécènes!” crowdfunding program proved the most successful since the operation was launched in 2010. The Louvre Museum raised 1.4 million euros, far exceeding the initial target of a million euros, enabling the return to France of The Book of Hours of King François I, which is now part of the museum’s permanent collections.
LVMH luxury group, which led the patronage campaign with a donation of 5 million euros, actively supported the effort, which resulted in enthusiastic participation, enabling the Louvre to acquire this royal treasure, classified as a major national heritage piece.
Key figures from previous cultural sponsorship campaigns by Louvre Museum:
Thanks to the tremendous efforts of 7,200 donors in 2010, the Musée du Louvre raised the €1,260,000 required for the acquisition of The Three Graces, painted by Lucas Cranach.
In 2011, the museum reaped €500,000 from 1,900 generous donors to restore and reassemble two treasures of Cairene architecture for the opening of the Department of Islamic Art.
In 2012, 4,500 donors succeeded in raising the €800,000 required for the purchase one of the two ivory statuettes the museum lacked to complete its medieval Descent from the Cross collection.
In 2013, some 6,700 donors raised a million euros for the conservation of the museum’s iconic Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the renovation of the monumental staircase that serves as its setting.
For the 2014 campaign, over 4,500 donors contributed €800,000 for the acquisition of the Breteuil Table, also known as the Teschen Table.
In 2015, Cupid Testing One of his Arrows by Jacques Saly (1717–76) joined the collections of the Department of Sculptures thanks to the generosity of over 4,300 donors, whose contributions amounted to nearly €680,000.
In 2016, 3,700 donors raised the €670,000 required to reconstruct the mastaba chapel of Akhethetep.