Camille Descossy, 'Portrait of Jean Claparède', around 1950, oil on card. Private collection
Jean Claparède (Montpellier, 1900-1990) was Curator of the Musée Fabre from 1945 - 1965. He was deeply erudite and during his twenty years at the museum he produced a great body of research into the collections. This forms a rich archive of documentation and a deep foundation of knowledge about the Musée Fabre art collections.
Before becoming curator, Jean Claparède was an agrégé (highest French teaching diploma) history professor. He taught preparatory classes for the Grandes Ecoles as well as teaching at the School of Fine Arts. When World War II broke out he interrupted his teaching career to dedicate himself to saving the Musée Fabre collections. Between 1943 - 1944 he worked on moving the collections to safe haven at the château de Roquedols, in the Cévennes, and at the château de Saint-Gall, in Cantal.
In December 1944, Jean Claparède published
the catalogue of the first 'Liberation' exhibition
organised at the Musée Fabre, which was still without its collections. In 1945 he organised the repatriation of the collections and their new hanging. He was henceforth named Curator of the Musée Fabre.
Jean Claparède now devoted himself to a detailed study of the collections. He was the first person to take a historian's stance towards them. He was highly methodical in his work and created files on the artworks which were endlessly enriched over the years. He also undertook an important work of attribution, notably for the drawings, and compared his findings with the finest specialists, such as Anthony Blunt who visited him at the Musée Fabre in 1951. We also owe the exhaustive cataloguing and attribution of an inventory number for each object to Jean Claparède. This work was completed in 1965 and was destined to be published as a general catalogue of the museum collections. It remains unpublished and in the form of typed and bound manuscripts.
Note to readers:
The Musée Fabre catalogue by Jean Claparède is divided into twelve volumes and bound into fifteen parts. The digital files which can be downloaded respect the volume order and the classification by artistic school and field, painting and sculpture chosen by the author.
With optical character recognition, a search by work or artist name is possible within each file (menu Edition / Search in PDF reader).
In the second half of the 20th century Jean Claparède was a key figure in Montpellier's intellectual society. He made it his role to make
the Musée Fabre
and the importance of its collections widely known through the publication of numerous articles and catalogues. ('Dessins de la collection Alfred Bruyas et autres dessins des XIXe et XXe siècles', 1962) and by organising exhibitions ('La Faïence de Montpellier: XVIe, XVIIe, XVIIIe siècles', 1962).
Jean Hilaire, 'Jean CLAPARÈDE et la vie intellectuelle montpelliéraine au milieu du XXe siècle', 2011, followed by Jean-Pierre Dufoix, 'Jean Claparède et l’une des facettes de la vie intellectuelle montpelliéraine au milieu du XXe siècle : La réunion de lecture mensuelle,' 2016.