Don’t miss the magnificent Jaquemart-André Museum when you are next in Paris.
As Zola wrote in his novel La Curée (“The Kill”), “It is a display, a profusion, an overwhelming amount of wealth“. An apt quote to describe the magnificent Musée Jacquemart-André on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, a few blocks from the Champs-Elysées.
Edouard André bought land in 1869 and commissioned the design and build of his mansion to Henri Parent, a specialist in traditional architecture. From 1869 to 1876, Parent completed a vast and exquisite building, with design, symmetry and facades which took inspiration from classical models.
On our visit we approached the mansion through a white curved and gravelled carriageway, to find four white stone lions guarding the entrance. A great first impression. Certainly the intention of the original owners who were part of the rich and famous set of their time and entertained in lavish style.
Don’t forget to pick up the free audio tour before you make your way through rooms like the Grand Salon, music room, staterooms, smoking room, dining room and up the Grand staircase to André‘s amazing Italian collection. Here don’t miss the 16th century tapestries covering the walls and the painting of the Virgin Mary by Botticelli.
The sheer quantity of famous artworks throughout the mansion is astonishing. The top floor has to be seen to be believed. The house upstairs and downstairs is pure opulence. Masterpieces adorn the walls, including prestigious artists like Boucher, Chardin, Canaletto and Nattier, whose works have all been brought together in the Picture Gallery. Further decadence of André’s are the two oval compositions by François Boucher, Venus Asleep and The Toilet of Venus, two stunning examples of sophisticated, erotic art.
The Grand Salon was one of our favourite rooms. The audio tour asked us to image ourselves transported to the late nineteenth century. Orchestra playing with the Parisian elite arriving in carriages and where Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart loved to receive and entertain guests. We also learnt that the walls of this seemingly solid 18th century room moved back to create a grand ballroom space to cater for the extravagant parties the couple hosted. We won’t tell you too much more because we want to leave you some surprises.
When you visit the house, you will agree on one thing for sure. Edouard and Nélie were great travellers to exotic parts of the world, collecting sculptures, furniture, artworks, antiques and curios in abundance. Their seemingly ‘open cheque book’ gave them entrée to amass a fortune that in the end was bequeathed to the French Government for later generations to enjoy and gain an insight into one of France’s most opulent lifestyles and most fascinating stories.
You may like to finish your visit with a slice of lemon tart at the spectacular cafe on the ground floor. Bonne visite!
158 BoulevardHaussmann Paris