«Je donne et lègue au Gouvernement de la République Helvétique la totalité des valeurs par moi déposées en Suisse à la Banque Nationale à Berne et la Bankverein suisse à Bâle. Les revenus de ces valeurs serviront à distribuer chaque année un prix unique au savant suisse ou domicilié en Suisse qui aura pendant cette année fait la découverte ou l’étude la plus utile dans les sciences, particulièrement celles qui intéressent la vie humaine.»
“I give and bequeath to the Government of the Helvetic Republic all the assets registered by myself in Switzerland with the National Bank in Bern and the Swiss Bankverein in Basel. Revenue from these assets shall be used to award annually a single prize to a Swiss scholar or a scholar resident in Switzerland who in the course of that year has made the most useful discovery or study in the sciences that is of particular relevance to human life.”
Marcel Benoist left not only his financial assets but also his art collection and library to the Swiss Confederation. The collection was initially curated by the City of Lausanne, and was bought by the City in 1965. It is still housed in the Mon Repos Villa, which was specially renovated for this purpose. The collection includes furniture, carpets, bronze statues, Chinese and Japanese vases, porcelain, faience and engravings. Marcel Benoist’s library, containing around 600 mainly literary works, was placed in the Lausanne city archives.
The tapestries are the most valuable pieces in the Benoist collection. The picture shows a verdure tapestry with pelican, produced by the Beauvais royal manufactory (late 16th/early 17th century).