Chapter 31: A Gift to the Louvre - "Je Vous Remercie . . . Pour Cet Enrichissement des Collections Nationales"
Mr. Hubert Landais, Nov. 1981
Directeur des Musées de France
Administrateur de la Reunion des Musées Nationaux
From 1978 to 1985, the Mansoor brothers did not contact any museum in
the United States or Europe except the Louvre and the Vatican's Egyptian
Some time in 1980, the Mansoors offered the Louvre a statuette in pink limestone of an Amarna princess as a donation to honor the memory of the late Dr. Drioton. After studying and examining the piece for over a year, Dr. Christiane Desroches Noblecourt accepted it for the Louvre. Dr. Noblecourt sent a letter written on the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication - Musée du Louvre's letterhead, dated August 17, 1981, to the representative of the Mansoors in Paris, saying:
. . . Voici la quassi solution d'une longue histoire; il fallait, vous l'admettrez, une certaine détermination pour affronter le verdict des uns et la mauvaise foi des autres et prendre ses résponsabilitiés honnêtement vis-a-vis de la science que l'on desservirait si l'on manquait de courage. J'ai pris cette decision en mon âme et conscience et je sais qu'en ce qui concerne l'objet que j'ai fait entrer au Louvre, mon admirable maitre, le Chanoine Drioton aurait agi comme moi. Et je suis heureuse, une fois de plus, d' avoir fait quelque chose pour sa mémoire
Translated: Here is, almost, the solution of a long story; you will
admit that I had to have a certain determination to confront the verdict
of some and the bad faith of others and to have an honest responsibility
toward science which we would disservice if we lacked courage. I have made
this decision in my soul and conscience and I know that concerning the
object which the Louvre has accepted on my recommendation, my admirable
teacher the Canon Drioton would have acted as I did. And I am happy, once
more, to have done something in his memory.
Ch. Desroches Noblecourt (signed),
Inspecteur General des Musées
Chef du Département des Antiquités Egyptiennes
du Musée du Louvre.
Only an honest scholar with a noble soul would have the courage to mention what Dr. Desroches Noblecourt wrote in her letter, ". . . to confront the verdict of some and the bad faith of others . . . "
His Excellency Dr. Sarwat Okasha, in his preface to Dr. Christiane Desroches Noblecourt's outstanding book "Tutankhamen" (New York Graphic Society, 1963), wrote:
I had the satisfaction, as Minister of Culture and National Guidance of the United Arab Republic [Egypt], of being able to second this exceptional work. I am very pleased that I could do so, for a study of Tutankhamen's treasure could not have been confided to a scholar more highly qualified in the world of art and archaeology than Madame Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt. She is an Egyptologist of the first rank: her writings, her masterly work at the Louvre Museum and School, her practical work in the field carried out on sites explored on behalf of France in Upper Egypt, the performance of her official duties as a special consultant of UNESCO to my government - all single her out as a worthy heir of the great traditions of Egyptology and of her illustrious predecessors.
I gave her what assistance I could, not only as a tribute to her abilities and to her determination to continue the work of Mariette Pasha, but also in appreciation of her sincere and cordial feelings of friendship toward Egypt at all periods of its history.
Dr. Okasha's statement clearly indicates that Madame Desroches Noblecourt is one of the foremost Egyptologists of our time, particularly "in the world of art and archaeology." And he gave her "what assistance" he could, "as a tribute to her abilities and to her determination to continue the work of Mariette Pasha," who was according to "Who Was Who in Egyptology" 1972, p. 194, a "French Egyptologist and founder of the Egyptian Antiquities Service," probably one of the most titanic figures in the whole history of Egyptology.
It should be noted that Dr. Noblecourt had seen years before - and on various occasions - some of the Mansoor Amarna sculptures, but never made her opinion known at the time as to whether they were genuine or not as she was an official of the French government and was not permitted to give an official evaluation.
Monsignor Nolli, former Director of Oriental Antiquities of the Vatican Museum and Professor of Ancient Egyptian Religion, University of the Lateran in Rome, referring to the Mansoors' donation to the Louvre and to Madame Noblecourt, wrote in "In Defense . . ." (cf. Point 10, p. 28) the following:
This object was accepted as authentic (after due investigation by the Laboratory of Mineralogy and Crystallography of the University P. et M. Curie of France). The object in question, a princess figurine was accepted not by a doorkeeper of the Louvre, but by Dr. Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, universally known as a competent scholar of Ancient Egyptian Art. In fact she published in 1962 a book "L'Art Egyptien" and in 1960 she wrote a monography "L'Extraordinaire Aventure Amarnienne" (Edition des Deux Mondes, Paris) which makes one believe that Dr. Desroches-Noblecourt has the necessary competence in this field and precisely in regard to the period to which the Mansoor-Amarna Collection belongs. How could it be that Dr. Desroches-Noblecourt did not notice that the Amarna piece was a "fake" after having studied it for a length of time?
After the statuette had been examined and accepted for the Louvre by Dr. Desroches Noblecourt, the Mansoors received a letter dated November 18, 1981, from Mr. Hubert Landais, Director of the Museums of France.
The original French letter is reproduced in "In Defence . . .," (Colonna and Nolli, June 1986, p. 35). The English translation:
I thank you very much for honoring the memory of the chanoine Drioton by donating a gift to the Department of Egyptian Antiquities.
It was during our last meeting that my colleagues assembled in committee were informed of your present by Madame Desroches Noblecourt and were able to examine the statuette of Amarna style in pink limestone which you offered as a gift.
All have asked me to express their gratitude for this enrcihment of the national collections.
To this message, I would like to add all my personal gratitude and best wishes.
The Director of the Museums of France
Administrator of the National Museums.
Hubert Landais (signed)
Thus, this exquisite figurine of a princess had become the fifth (two in the Denver Museum and two in the Vatican Museum) Amarna sculpture frlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll