Monday, 27 February 2012

A Parisian art collection

JC suggested we visit the Musee Jacquemart Andre, a Parisian mansion built in the Victorian era and filled with original works of art. The architecture itself is worth a view.

Heir of a Protestant banking family, Edouard André spent his fortune on acquiring works of art which he exhibited in his new mansion, built on Boulevard Haussmann and completed in 1875. In 1881 he married a well-known artist, Nélie Jacquemart.

This marriage was to be crucial to the creation of the museum, as Nélie Jacquemart fully supported Edouard André’s plans and presided over the development of the collections with a firm hand. The collection of Italian paintings includes 82 works from the 14th and 15th centuries, as well as some fifteen from the 16th century. The majority are Florentine works.

In 1872, Edouard André decided to sit for his portrait and called on a renowned young artist, who enjoyed a reputation as a successfully portraitist, having painted people like Duruy or Thiers. Her name was Nélie Jacquemart. Nine years later they were married, and Nélie came to live at the mansion on Boulevard Haussmann.

Theirs was a marriage of convenience, entered into by two very different individuals: he was a Bonapartist Protestant, she a Catholic living in royalist circles. Their union turned out to be a genuine success and their shared attitudes and tastes made their thirteen years of life together very happy ones. Childless, they dedicated themselves completely to their joint work: this art collection.

For a self-guided tour of the permanent collections, you are offered a free audio-guide on your arrival at the museum. It provides a commentary on the history of the museum and its collections, and more specialised information on the context of the Second French Empire, the life of the bourgeoisie and the great collectors in the 19th century.


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