PROVENANCE | Patrick O’Reilly (1900-1988) Patrick O’Reilly (1900-1988) Philippe Bourgoin Patrick O’Reilly was a native of the town Saint-Mihiel in northeastern France. As his name suggests, he was of Irish descent (Farell O'Reilly of Cork had emigrated to Le Havre in 1771). He arrived in Paris in 1918 to study at the Sorbonne and entered the Marist novitiate at La Neylière, near Lyon, in 1922. After being ordained to the priesthood in 1928, he became chaplain to the students of Paris (1930-1975). Concurrently with the fulfillment of his religious mission, O'Reilly received training in the field of ethnology and, as a student of the anthropologist Lucien Lévy-Bruhl (1857-1939), obtained a diploma from the Institute of Ethnology in Paris in 1932. Under the auspices of Dr. Paul Rivet (1876-1958), director of the Musée de l'Homme at the time, he received a grant from the fledgling Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique intended to enable him to prepare a state doctoral thesis based on fieldwork. In 1934-1935, he went on a mission on behalf of the Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro to the islands of Buka and Bougainville in the northern Solomon archipelago (which was later followed by two others, in 1949 and 1953, which he undertook on his own account). Patrick O’Reilly circa 1964. Unknown photographer. O’Reilly’s fieldwork focused not only on local myths and stories, but on kinship systems and technology as well. He collected several hundred objects, mainly ethnographic, which were sent to the Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro. This collection, preserved today in part at the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, at the Marist Museum of La Neylière and at the Vatican Museum, is among the most important from this region. He also made the first French filmed monograph on an Oceanic culture, recording inhabitants’ daily routines, customs and traditions. Several milestone events were also filmed, including a wedding, rituals for the deceased and cremation, and the initiation and preparation of the youths for their lives as grown men. During his stay on the island of Buka, O'Reilly, together with Father Paul Montauban (1886-1958) who resided at the Gagan mission, had the idea – one that remains quite exceptional in the world of anthropology – of having several people draw scenes of everyday life, ceremonial life and the spirit world. Somuk (died in1967), Bougainville, circa 1930. Ink and/or grease pencil on salvaged account book paper (42.7 x 35.3 cm) © Musée du suai Branly-Jacques Chirac. Inv. 70.2021.1.1. One of the participants in this project named Somuk attracted their attention in particular with the quality and precision of his drawings. Three of the latter’s works were presented at an exhibition titled L'Art Brut préféré aux arts culturels, organized and introduced by painter Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) at Galerie René Drouin in October of 1949. It was probably through Charles Ratton or Madeleine Rousseau, who worked at the Musée de l'Homme, that Dubuffet and O'Reilly met. Dubuffet frequented them both at that time. The painter and O'Reilly also happened to be neighbors. This led to a true collaboration, a sharing of experiences in which these drawings’ artistic merit combined and competed with their ethnographic interest. In 1951, thanks to the concerted efforts of art critic Jean Paulhan (1884-1968), Dubuffet, and ethnologist Maurice Leenhardt (1878-1954), O'Reilly organized an exhibition of the collected drawings in Paris. This event gave rise to a publication titled Art mélanésien. Somuk, Hikot, Tsumomok, Tsimès, Ketanon (Nouvelles Éditions Latines, Paris, 1951), which was probably the first ever devoted to contemporary artists in the Pacific. O'Reilly went to the museum regularly to unpack the objects he had brought back and to write the accession notes for them. At the same time, he attended courses given by anthropologist Marcel Mauss (1872-1950) at the École des Hautes Études, and later those that Leenhardt gave after his return from New Caledonia, Mauss having decided to retire in the fall of 1939. In 1945, he became the general secretary of the newly established Société des Océanistes (a position he held until 1971), to which he gave a strong impetus, thanks most notably to the numerous works that he had published and to the extensive network of relations on which the society was based – one that included former administrators, colonial governors and naval officers. Patrick O’Reilly circa 1950, lecturing students on his mission in Oceania. © Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac. Photo Y. M. Pech. Inv. PPà132766. Beginning at the end of the 1950s, O'Reilly and Marie-Charlotte Laroche (1906-1996), a prominent figure in the group, worked on the project of establishing a Gauguin museum in Tahiti. In 1960, they succeeded in convincing the Singer-Polignac Foundation to support the project. In 1964, O'Reilly was put in charge of its organization and, in 1973, of setting up the historical section of the Musée de Tahiti et des Îles. He then became fascinated with the work of Vaiere Mara, a Tahitian sculptor born in Rurutu in 1936, and did a great deal of research on him, culminating in the publication of Bois légendaires de Mara, sculpteur tahitien (Legendary Woodwork of Mara, Tahitian Sculptor) (Hachette Pacifique, 1979). Dividing his time between his missionary work and his scientific activities, between his work in the office and his ethnological fieldwork, O’Reilly still found time to be an avid photographer for nearly sixty years. He also gathered up iconographic documents and assembled an impressive collection of old photographs, plans, maps and drawings. His three Oceanic biographical and bibliographical directories, Calédoniens (Caledonians) (1953), Hébridais (Hebrideans) (1957) and Tahitiens (Tahitians) (1962), still remain foundational reference works in the field of Oceanic history today.