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A GROUP OF WORKS DONATED BY H.E. AMBASSADOR FRANCINE HENRICH TO BENEFIT H&H MÉCÉNAT
'I was living in Quai Voltaire in what had been Ingres' studio, which was full of drawings by Delacroix. This apartment was let out to me by a renowned watercolour painter who taught painting in the large glasshouse of this studio. It was a very inspiring surrounding which naturally nurtured my passion for art.'
(Francine Henrich, quoted).
Born in Nancy, France, Francine Henrich was brought up in an art-friendly environment. When she moved as a student to Paris, she quickly developed a passion for Modern and Contemporary art, exploring the Parisian museums and the 'Rive Gauche' art galleries.
The collection of contemporary art that she put together is a witness to her various travels, but also to her commitment towards contemporary artists from non-Western countries. With patience and passion, Francine Henrich gathered an ensemble of unique works, both paintings and sculptures.
Her professional career started at the Quai d'Orsay followed by European institutions, leading her to discover African Art during her many assignments to Africa such as the Dogon masks, the mirror fetishes of Congo, the Téké sculptures and Yoruba art which highlighted the stunning diversity of Nigerian art.
When she was appointed Chief of the European Commission Delegation in Tunisia, she got to know the painters of the School of Tunis (Giorgi, Ben Abdallah, the Turki brothers), as well as the glass paintings of the Tunisian Naive artists, whose distinctive feature is their complex symbolism.
With her new assignment to Cairo and Alexandria, she acquainted herself with artists Omar El-Nagdi, Mohammed and his sister Effat Naghi, Mohamed Abla and Margot Veillon whose works feature in her collection.
Named Ambassador to Delhi, she was bedazzled by the rich diversity of classical Indian sculpture: Khajurao's erotic sculptures, Gupta art and the Orissa stone sculptures, of which some examples are prominently exhibited in the park of her estate. Further to her visit of Santiniketan and her discovery of the art galleries in Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai, Francine Henrich became enamoured with Contemporary Indian paintings, namely the works of Padamsee, Husain, Raza, Souza and many others.
When she returned to Paris after her different missions, she had the idea of opening a gallery named 'F.H. Art Forum', on Quai de la Tournelle. The purpose of this art space was to exhibit and unveil the works of artists from foreign cultures, who fuelled their creativity in the richness of both a millenary heritage and pioneering art trends of their time.
The Parisian gallery's space soon proved to be too small to house the artworks and as a result, Francine Henrich decided to transfer all paintings and sculptures to a vast and dedicated area of the Château du Chesney situated on the river bank of the Seine, in Normandy. The Château's extensive forested park allowed her to exhibit her sculptures, her true passion, more eminently.
The Château du Chesney also features a stand-alone museum for the famous Egyptian painter and sculptor Omar El-Nagdi and additional private galleries where works by other artists, whom she continues to support, are displayed. Francine Henrich's choice to build an art collection comprising of works by foreign artists reveals her deep commitment that is intrinsically linked to her lifestyle.
In Francine Henrich's opinion, a painting, a sculpture or any other artwork must strike one's imagination. This impact on the mind must be absorbed by each individual, offering true pleasure. She mentions, 'During my whole life, I used art and the emotional impact it triggered as a sort of oxygen to resist against the suffocation of some days and against mediocrity.'
Nowadays, her son Philippe has succeeded her in managing the collections and together they founded the H & H Mécénat, an organisation that aims to financially and logistically support young talented artists aged under 40 years old. The board of directors consists of seven experienced people from the art world (chief editor of a magazine on Contemporary art, exhibition curator, artist's agent, gallery director and collector) whose role is to select from all the applications the final candidates who will be granted a sponsorship that can last between one and three years. The length of the sponsorship depends on the artist's project and the time he or she will require to realise it. The selection of candidates takes place annually in the presence of all members of H & H Mécénat. The criteria for the selection is primarily based on the relevance of the project, on how feasible is its realisation in terms of time and costs and privileges painters and sculptures above all. However, they accept applications from artists who use other media and encourage them to approach alternative structures that are better suited to their artistic techniques.
Through a network of art galleries and cultural centres that are directly or indirectly connected to diplomatic missions in France, they will be exhibiting the awarded candidates' works upon completion of their project and an online platform will be following the progress of each laureate on a weekly basis. Artists who are interested by H & H Mécénat will be able to submit their application directly through the website from May 2014 onwards:
(Philippe Henrich, 2014).
DONATED BY H.E. AMBASSADOR FRANCINE HENRICH TO BENEFIT H&H MÉCÉNAT