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?Jean Gaspar had a younger brother, Charles Gaspar (1871-1950), a pictorial photographer,who bequeathed to the city of Arlon the family house which became the Gaspar Museum. Charles Gaspar exhibited his photographs throughout Europe. The collection of medals here in the museum bears witness to his intense activity spanning twenty years.
He was a contemporary of leading names in the pictorial movement, including Léonard Misonne and Gustave Marissiaux.
He also added works on the history of art, tourism, military history and other subjects to his personal library. He collected antique furniture and paintings by artists who were, incidentally, often his friends.
From 9 August to 6 September 1925, Charles Gaspar was a member of the executive committee of the Exposition de la Vie populaire Luxembourgeoise (Exhibition of popular Luxembourg life), again as Secretary and Treasurer of the Œuvre nationale des Invalides de Guerre (National charity for war invalids). Among the other members were Alfred Bertrang, secretary of the Archaeological Institute of Luxembourg, Lucien Sibenaler, Edmond Fouss and Paul Reuter.
Charles Gaspar became a member of the Archaeological Institute of Luxembourg in 1925, preparing for this exhibition. He was motivated by the folk, almost ethnographic aspect of this initiative, which also included a charitable element for the benefit of those disabled and wounded in war. The press stressed that the exhibition, re-created alongside sections of archaeology and already familiar reconstructions of interiors, was a real folk museum.
Along with the house and the works of art, Charles Gaspar also bequeathed the furniture. Some of the items had been acquired with a view to establishing a museum of regional art and folklore. The residence was adorned with a number of very fine pieces of woodwork, including this cabinet, a high-backed chair and a hanging cupboard in the Neo-Gothic style, ordered from J. Van Potuyn. Even the cabinetmaker’s sketch for the hanging cupboard, drawn in 1898, has been preserved. Among the photographs found, a self-portrait of Charles Gaspar shows the cabinet in the background.
Other fine books on art reflect Charles Gaspar’s erudition.
Charles Gaspar’s will consisted of three documents. The will was drawn up in September 1935, on the anniversary of his parents’ wedding. The legatees, in order of importance in the view of Charles Gaspar, are the City of Arlon, the Commission d’Assistance Publique (CPAS - public welfare commission), the Œuvre Nationale des Invalides de Guerre (National charity for war invalids) and the Œuvre de la protection de l’Enfance (Charity for the protection of children), school prizes, his close friends. Two codicils were to follow, in 1936 and 1944. These review the bequest made to the deceased’s nephews and favour Catherine Reding, the governess who was at the side of his mother (who died in 1933) and then with him during the illness he suffered during the last years of his life.
Most of these are commemorative medals offered to artists taking part in the exhibitions. The set also includes a few awards given to Charles Gaspar. According to Steven Joseph, a History of Photography researcher, the fact that this set of medals has not been scattered is unique in Belgium. Thanks to this collection, and by examining catalogues, it has proved possible to put together a list of the exhibitions in which the photographer took part. These include photography exhibitions held in Budapest, Geneva, Marseilles, Paris, Turin and Vienna.
Text provided by Valérie Peuckert, Musée Gaspar, Arlon, Belgium (26 January 2023)
The Musée Gaspar in Arlon, Belgium, is dedicated to the sculptor Jean Gaspar (1861-1931) and his brother Charles. It houses over five hundred of his photographs.
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