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Legrand, Francine-Claire

    Full Name: Legrand, Francine-Claire

    Other Names:

    • Francine-Claire Legrand

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 1916

    Date Died: 1995

    Place Born: Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium

    Place Died: Saint-Gilles, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium

    Home Country/ies: Belgium

    Subject Area(s): Belgian (modern) and Modern (style or period)

    Career(s): curators


    Curator of modern art at the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique (Royal museums of Fine Arts of Belgium). Legrand graduated in art history at the Brussels Institut supérieur d’Histoire de l’Art et d’Archéologie, located in the Royal museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Between 1937 and 1939, under chief curator Léo Van Puyvelde, she served the museum as a guide and she delivered lectures, which activities were organized by the association of the Diffusion Artistique, founded in 1924. She was a contributor to the daily Paris journal Combat, founded during World War II by the French Resistance movement. After World War II, between 1947 and 1949, she joined the Commissariat belge au rapatriement (repatriation of refugees). She returned to the museum in 1949, becoming a member of the board (conseil d’administration) of the Diffusion Artistique, a position she held until 1970. Between 1950 and 1958 she in addition served the museum as a librarian. In 1955 she coauthored, with Félix Sluys, a study on the mannerist painter Arcimboldo and the emulators of this extravagant mode, Giuseppe Arcimboldo et les arcimboldesques. In 1958 she was appointed adjunct curator modern art. A year later, unfortunately, the modern art museum had to be closed. In 1959 she earned her doctoral degree from the Sorbonne in Paris with a dissertation on seventeenth-century Flemish genre painters (published in 1963), Les peintres flamands de genre au XVIIe siècle. In the museum, from 1958 onwards, Legrand became the director of a new documentation project, an initiative of the International Association of Art Critics. In Belgium it was named “Archives de l’Expressionisme en Belgique”. Chief curator Paul Fierens, who was the president of the association, had assigned to Legrand the task of organizing this project, before he died in 1957. Under the direction of Legrand a team of researchers began to collect documents on the expressionist movement, and soon on all other fields of Belgian modern and contemporary art. In 1962 the name of the project was changed in “Archives de l’Art contemporain en Belgique”. In 1962, under chief curator Philippe Roberts-Jones, Legrand was appointed curator, which position she held until 1974. That year, 1962, too, Legrand organized an exhibition on the Brussels circle of artists, “Les Vingt”, in collaboration with the Dutch Museum Kröller-Müller in Otterlo. From 1962 until 1978 a provisionary museum was open for the public, the so-called “Musée de poche”, where Legrand successfully organized ninety-two small exhibitions. In 1971 Legrand published a monograph on James Ensor, Ensor, cet inconnu and a major critical study on symbolism, Le symbolisme en Belgique. From 1974 onwards, Legrand held the position of head of the modern art department. In 1981 she published Léon Spilliaert et son époque. When she retired, in 1981, the new Brussels Museum of Modern Art was still under construction. It opened in 1984.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] Les peintres flamands de genre au XVIIe siècle. Paris, Sorbonne, 1959, published, Brussels: Éditions Meddens, 1963; La peinture en Belgique, des primitifs à nos jours. Brussels: Éditions de la Connaissance, 1954; and Sluys, Félix. Arcimboldo et les arcimboldesques. Paris: La Nef de Paris, 1955; and Janson, Claire. Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts, Art moderne. Brussels: Éditions de la Connaissance, 1958; Le groupe des XX et son temps. Brussels: MRBAB, Otterlo: Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, 1962; and Ollinger-Zinque, Gisèle. Ensor, cet inconnu. Brussels: La Renaissance du Livre, 1971; Le symbolisme en Belgique. Brussels, Laconti, 1971, English, Symbolism in Belgium. Brussels: Laconti, 1972; Gaston Bertrand. Brussels: Éditions Irène Dossche, 1972; Léon Spilliaert et son époque. Tielt: Lannoo, 1981; Bram Bogart. Tielt: Lannoo, 1988.


    Les Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. Deux siècles d’histoire. 2 vols. Brussels: Dexia Banque et Racine, 2003, pp. 440, 489-494, 604, 625-629, 677; “Homage to Francine Claire-Legrand.” in Belgium, the Golden Decades, 1880-1914, ed. Jane Block. New York: Peter Lang, 1997, pp.221-240.

    Contributors: Monique Daniels


    Monique Daniels. "Legrand, Francine-Claire." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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