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Maryann Jordan, bestowed of the insignia of “Chevalier des Arts et Lettres»

Maryann Jordan, bestowed of the insignia of “Chevalier des Arts et Lettres»

Published on October 15, 2012
Speech by François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States

Seattle Art Museum, Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dear Mr. Chairman Charlie Wright,

Dear Madam President Winnie Stratton,

I want to thank you both and your staff for your warm welcome today,

Monsieur le Président, Cher Alain Seban - it’s both a privilege and a pleasure to have you here with us this evening as the very talented and successful President of the Centre Pompidou in Paris,

Monsieur le Directeur Alfred Pacquement - many thanks also for being with us tonight -

Members of the Board,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Maryann,

Many of your friends – some have travelled from distant shores – are here tonight to celebrate the opening of Elles, the ground-breaking outcome of the splendid cooperation between the Seattle Art Museum and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

But I suspect most of them were not aware that we would take advantage of this celebration to share with them another moment to remember - and here is the surprise:

In a very short while, it will be indeed my privilege to bestow upon Maryann Jordan, an outstanding professional, an exceptional individual and a close friend of my country, the medal of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, one of France’s most prestigious distinctions. One that will make Maryann the distinguished member of a very exclusive club, or rather a confraternal order of key artists and writers, scholars and thinkers, producers and administrators who cherish and foster French arts and culture, and thus contribute to the fruitful dialogue between cultures.

I believe one could not have thought of a better place and a better time for this wonderful occasion.

Dear Maryann, there are many reasons why France chose to recognize your talents in that manner, and it would take too long to mention all of them.

Obviously, your dedication to the Arts, and to this institution in particular, has earned you not only the distinction that comes with the award, but also the respect, the esteem and admiration of the Art world, of your peers and of major institutions in this country and abroad.

It is indeed more than à propos that France recognizes the expert professional who throughout her career has been one of the most eloquent, passionate and efficient ambassadors of French culture.

Your love affair with France goes back to your work in New York at the Metropolitan Museum, the New York Public Library and the Guggenheim Museum, but it has reached its full potential since you joined the Seattle Art Museum in 1996.

Even though everyone remembers them, I’d like to mention here a few of your most recent achievements in bringing the best of French culture to the Seattle audience, with record-breaking attendance: “Inspiring Impressionism” in 2008, “Picasso Masterpieces from the Musée national Picasso” last year, followed this year by the wonderful “Gauguin and Polynesia : an Elusive Paradise.” Well, I have visited a few cities in this country, and I can tell you that Seattle is definitely a paradise for French art, and not an elusive one!

Ladies and gentlemen, it is evidently more than appropriate to honor today the woman who has been so successful in inspiring her colleagues, in finding support among you, in communicating her vision, her passion for the Elles project, in brief, who has been instrumental in making the Elles exhibition happen.

And furthermore, who assumed an extraordinary leading role in gathering together most of Seattle’s major cultural institutions around the Elles presentation, thus so to speak “curating” the entire city and helping create what has become a genuine French festival.

So it’s fair to say that your love for France and French art has advanced the knowledge and appreciation for French culture by a large American public.

In recognition for your extraordinary achievements and exemplary commitment to French-American cultural cooperation, it is my honor to bestow upon you the insignia of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres – and I have to proceed in French.

Maryann Jordan,

Au nom de la ministre de la Culture et de la Communication, nous vous remettons les insignes de Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres./.