Born in Lyon in 1907, Jacqueline Delubac came to Paris in the 1920s and built a career as an actress, first on stage and then in film. In 1931 she met actor Sacha Guitry and four years later they married. From this time onwards the well-known and popular Jacqueline was considered to be the archetype of the sophisticated Parisian woman. She became a model of elegance thanks to the jewellery given to her by her husband, and her predilection for beautiful things. Living with Sacha Guitry in his private mansion surrounded by masterpieces by great artists such as Cézanne, Degas, Matisse and Van Gogh, she cultivated her taste for works of exceptional quality.
In the wake of her divorce in 1939, Jacqueline decided to sell her jewellery collection and start collecting art. She made the bold decision to purchase modern works, rejecting the ‘1900 taste' embodied in the major works of Monet, Cézanne and Rodin. In the early 1950s, having performed in more than 27 roles on stage and 25 on screen, she retired from acting; this coincided with an intense period of buying art. Between 1955 and 1962, she acquired works by Braque, Léger and Picasso as well as lesser-known artists such as Poliakoff, Hartung and Fautrier.
Jacqueline shared her passion for the arts with her partner Myran Eknayan (1892–1985). In 1985 she inherited his superb collection of Impressionist works and in 1993 bequeathed both this and her own more modern collection to her home town. The Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon received 38 works of exceptional quality, including 35 paintings and three sculptures: these are currently on view as part of the unique exhibition which runs until 16 February 2015.
‘I have a good eye. I had the good fortune to have enough intuition to buy paintings by Poliakoff, Fautrier and Dubuffet when they were not very well-known. And I am very glad I purchased them when everyone was making fun of me.’
Designed as a reproduction of her flat on the Quai d’Orsay in Paris, the exhibition pays tribute to the woman, the actress and the art lover. Split into seven sections, this daring staging of Jacqueline’s collection immerses visitors in her world. The first masterpiece you come to is Carcass of Meat and Bird of Prey by Francis Bacon, as audacious a choice as the portraits of powerful women which she didn’t hesitate to display in her large lounge. As well as the works bequeathed by Jacqueline Delubac, the exhibition also presents pieces lent by museums and private collections both in France and further afield. Film screenings, dresses and costumes, newspapers clippings and press reviews, dozens of photos: together they evoke for visitors the glamorous universe inhabited by Jacqueline Delubac.
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Dominique Simon Pierron
Lyon Regional Office, Christie’s
Tel: + 33 (0) 6 61 81 82 53