Jean-Marie de Silguy bought a great many paintings of his time (Bertin, Boilly, Cartier, Charlet, Daguerre, Deveria, Drolling, Mauzaisse, Vallin, etc.), without much objectivity. If we compare his collection to a theoretic and perfect history of art, we can see that little place has been given to Romanticism. Works from the Realist movement are absent. However, de Silguy was open to the most diverse themes: small mythological scenes for bourgeois interiors, scenes of genre destined for the same clientele, landscapes of the French countryside or reinterpretations of the Nordic landscapes of the 17th century, scenes inspired by national history, in particular the Middle Ages.
In the last years of his life, Jean-Marie de Silguy made two major purchases: by Corot, une Vue du château de Pierrefonds (a view of the Castle of Pierrefonds), and by Boudin, Le Port de Quimper. He bought this work, a forerunner of Impressionism, at the age of 72, to add to his collection of 1,200 paintings.
Following the museum opening, this collection was completed by several donations including Chassériau’s masterpiece and several canvases from the Colomb collection (Perrin, Paradis) and by several French state allocated works (Rouget, Lazerges). The building works carried out in 1976 and 1993 would enable the collection to be further enhanced, especially in the second part of the 19th century. But it was impossible to continue de Silguy’s collection to form a coherent whole extending from the Barbizon School to that of Pont-Aven. The museum also lacks works from the Impressionist movement.