The museums of the city of Strasbourg presented on Monday the acquisition of a "spectacular" and "priceless" medieval drawing of the spire of Strasbourg Cathedral.
A national treasure "hunted since 2018" and awaited by the Fondation de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame in Strasbourg, which will soon present to the public this drawing classified as "national treasure" by the Ministry of Culture.
This drawing is an early draft for the spire of the cathedral by Johannes Hültz, architect of the cathedral from 1419 to 1449. It turns out to be very different from the spire as it will eventually be made.
"It's a historic moment."
This is how Paul Lang, director of the museums of the city of Strasbourg, presented on Monday the acquisition and presentation of a "spectacular" and "invaluable" medieval drawing.
A drawing two meters long on smooth calfskin parchment, drawn in pen and black carbon ink and representing, precisely, the octagon already built of the spire of Strasbourg Cathedral.
A first project for the spire by Johannes Hültz, who was the architect of the cathedral from 1419 to 1449, which ultimately turns out to be very different from the spire as it will finally be made.
A difference which is still not explained and remains for the time being a mystery and a subject of investigation.
This drawing joins an already rich collection of around twenty architectural drawings, on parchment or on paper, from the construction site of the cathedral and constitutes one of the finest collections of medieval architectural drawings in Europe.
The whole was placed on deposit at the museum by the Fondation de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame.
Its heritage interest for Strasbourg is all the more reinforced as it probably belonged to the original collections of the Foundation, before disappearing, very probably during the revolution.
Sales prohibited abroad
A national treasure "hunted since 2018" and awaited by the Foundation of the Œuvre Notre-Dame which allowed its restoration.
2018, date when the drawing reappeared, put back on the art market by its private owner, himself having acquired it in 1994 in Paris.
Welcoming the arrival of "such a work", Cécile Dupeux, curator of the Œuvre Notre-Dame museum, a museum which has preserved for seven centuries a unique set of medieval architectural drawings on parchment from the construction site of the cathedral , underlined the exceptional conservation as well as the delicacy and the quality of the sculpted decoration of the architect.
This is how we learn, among other things, that the spire was surmounted by a pedestal for a monumental statue of the Virgin.
An acquisition also allowed, thanks to the classification by the Ministry of Culture which, as soon as "its reappearance" hastened to officially classify the drawing as a "national treasure" and thus making it possible to establish a certificate prohibiting the sale to the stranger.
The parchment of Hültz, acquired for 1.7 million euros thanks in large part to the sponsorship of Crédit Mutuel, the Society of Friends of Strasbourg Cathedral and the city.
It will be visible to the public, placed under glass in a room of conservation drawings, at the Œuvre Notre-Dame museum in Strasbourg, from January 21 to April 23, 2023.
Did you see ?
Alsace: What is this statue of the Virgin and Child with three arms?
Strasbourg: Two years of work begin at Notre-Dame cathedral in the Alsatian capital
20 minute video