March 29, 2014

An often overlooked museum

Having tasted the Musée Jacquemart-André by night, my curiosity was peaked and I wanted more. I signed up for one of Mona's tours with Paris Walks and joined Cherise for an outstanding tour of the history and the gossip of this Parisian mansion.

Long terrace steps and a pair of stone lions usher visitors into this grand 19th-century mansion, home to a collection of objets d'art and fine paintings.This is a sumptuous townhouse with a collection made by wealthy art lovers, the banker Edouard André, and his wife, the painter Nelie Jacquemart.

The collection includes priceless 18th C furnishings: tapestries, furniture, all displayed in family rooms,  and superb paintings by some of the great artists such as Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Fragonard, David, Vigée Lebrun and Reynolds. In the upper galleries you can admire the works they amassed from the early Italian Renaissance, which are a testimony to the charm of this period. Uccello, Donatello, Botticelli just to mention a few. The house itself is spectacular in it’s own right with ballroom, minstrels’ gallery, Nelie’s studio, a breathtaking double spiral staircase, and the family dining room.

On the opening of the Hôtel André in 1876, an article in the magazine L'Illustration reported: “amazement at the enchanting ball given by Mr André. There is no more admirable setting. All the famous names from the world of fashion and elegance were there. They all shone with the same brilliance."
“Nothing was lacking to make Mr André’s ball one of those sensational events whose magnificence marks our era. The walls of the two entrance rooms, the cloakroom and the vestibule, disappeared under a scented curtain of violets and camellias. The gold decorations of the double ballroom flowed, sparkling under the blaze of a thousand candles."

Need I add more, it is definately worth a detour off the all too trodden Champs Elysées.

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