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Why is the mayor of Amiens desperately seeking Madonna’s help?

17 January 2023

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Wonderful news comes from across the Channel. Amiens – a town best known for textiles and its gothic cathedral – has made a plea to everyone’s favourite pop superstar, Madonna. Not everyone has a hotline to Madonna – even though her fans are well aware that she is up all night waiting for a call – so the town’s mayor, Brigitte Fouré, has made her appeal in a public video. Unlike the usual pleas from officialdom, there was no censure aimed at the popstar but instead a hope that they could work together.

Diana and Endymion (c. 1822), Jérôme-Martin Langlois. Photo: The Picture Art Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

Madonna, it transpires, might have the key to an art historical mystery. Before the First World War, the Louvre lent Amiens a painting of Diana and Endymion by Jérôme-Martin Langlois (1779–1838), but after the war, the painting was found to be missing. It is not known why or how. However, in 2015, an eagle-eyed researcher spotted the work in a photograph of Madonna at her home published in Paris Match. Amiens is busy preparing its bid to become city of culture in 2028 and they are keen to bring this work home for an exhibition that year.

The mayor of Amiens, Brigitte Fouré, appeals to Madonna in a public video. Photograph: Facebook

The mayor, being a wise politician, was very keen to impute no wrongdoing and asked only for a loan. Rakewell very much hopes that Madonna will not be able to resist such a request. After all, the mayor has framed her appeal as ‘une prière que je formule auprès de vous’. Will Madonna follow her own good advice and, like a prayer, take it there?

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