24 impressionist works turned into NFT for a good cause

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is organizing an NFT sale of 24 French Impressionist pastels preserved in its collections but very rarely on display. The proceeds will be used to finance the conservation of two Degas paintings.

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), home to a large collection of French Impressionist works, is turning to the sale of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to raise funds for a major conservation project. In collaboration with start-up LaCollection, the museum has transformed 24 rarely exhibited Impressionist pastels (due to their fragility) into unique digital copies that will go on sale July 14. The funds raised will go to finance the study and conservation of two paintings by Edgar Degas in the MFA collection.


Works rarely exhibited

An institution with universal ambitions, the MFA notably houses one of the largest collections of Claude Monet’s paintings outside of France, as well as a remarkable collection of works by the French Impressionists, from Degas to Caillebotte, via Renoir and Pissarro. With this NFT sales project, we are responding to a twofold problem: encouraging new forms of public involvement in the aftermath of the health crisis and inventing an innovative way to display these collections of 19th century French pastels, rarely exhibited due to great fragility.

Claude Monet, Seascape at sunset1862, pastel on paper, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, United States © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

We are able to show them for a limited time every ten years or so, or even more rarely.explains Eric Woods, the museum’s chief operating officer. By coining NFTs of these works by Monet, Degas, Millet and others, we are taking advantage of new ways to be able to share our collection more broadly. “Seeking to meet the same needs, the British Museum partnered with LaCollection to organize, last February, an NFT sale of 20 Turner watercolors which, according to their donor’s wish,” it can only be shown for two weeks in February or by special request and can never be loaned out “.

Monet and Degas in the NFTs

The NFTs (the number of which is not yet specified) were extracted from 24 impressionist pastels by great artists such as Degas, Millet and Monet, dated from 1860 to 1910. Among the works chosen are several landscapes presented by Monet at the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1874: Vast landscape (1862) and veu on the sea at sunset (1862). There will also be nine Millet crayons on offer, including dandelions (1867-1868) and Farm in the moonlight (1868). We will also find the famous representations of dancers made by Degas during his career with dancers at rest (1881-1885) and the pink ballet flats (circa 1900).

Edgar Degas, Pink Dancers, c.1900, pastel on tracing paper © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Edgar Degas, Pink Dancers, c.1900, pastel on tracing paper © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Certificate and other benefits

The sale to the public will take place on the LaCollection digital platform starting July 14. A presale is organized on 13 July and can be registered as early as 26 June. Each NFT will be offered with a starting price of € 299 (instead of € 399) for all buyers who have pre-registered. The funds raised will be used to finance the study, treatment and conservation of two paintings by Edgar Degas preserved in the collections of the MFA, namely Edmondo and Therese Morbilli (1865) and The Father listens to Lorenzo Pagans playing the guitar (1869-1872).

The two paintings by Edgar Degas that will benefit from the funds raised: Edmondo and Thérèse Morbilli, around 1865 and Father listening to Lorenzo Pagans playing the guitar, 1869-1872 © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The two paintings by Edgar Degas that will benefit from the funds raised: Edmondo and Thérèse Morbilli, around 1865 and Father listening to Lorenzo Pagans playing the guitar, 1869-1872 © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The purchase of one or more NFTs (which includes a digital certificate and an HD reproduction of the work) will also entitle you to other benefits and prizes, including access to previews or events organized by the MFA or participation in a raffle for the acquisition of an NFT of one of Degas’ two paintings. NFT owners will also be invited to discover the original pastels in Boston during an exceptional exhibit.

Jean-François Millet, Dandelions, 1867-1868, pastel on vellum © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Jean-François Millet, Dandelions, 1867-1868, pastel on vellum © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

LaCollection and the MFA will also organize a digital exhibition of the pastel collection in front of Monet’s home in Giverny, France, the artist’s chosen village, from 29 July. Throughout the exhibition, the screens installed in the gallery will allow visitors to examine in detail works such as The pair of sailors by Renoir (circa 1881) or even Two men turning the earth (1866) by Jean-Francois Millet.

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