The Musée Carnavalet is the Parisian municipal museum dedicated to the history of Paris from the origins of the city to the present day. Located in the Marais district at No. 23 rue de Sévigné in Paris, in the 3rd arrondissement, it presents collections on various themes: memories of the French Revolution, historical paintings, sculptures, furniture and decorations from the 17th and 18th centuries. th centuries, works of art, prints, etc. It is one of the fourteen museums of the city of Paris managed since January 1, 2013by the public administrative establishment Paris Musées.
The current museum occupies two mansions from the 16th and 17th centuries, consists of the Hôtel Carnavalet itself, and the Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, linked by a gallery on the first floor. In this remarkable architectural setting, you can discover the rich collections of the museum: medieval and Gallo-Roman archeological collection, mementos of the French Revolution, paintings, sculptures, furniture and items of art. The collections are presented in rooms which reconstruct the atmosphere of 14th and 15th century private residences.
The museum preserves more than 625,000 works, objects and documents, varied in their nature: furniture and decorative art objects, paintings, sculptures, archaeological collections, but also photographs, manuscripts and autographs, posters, prints, drawings, coins and medals, small objects of history and memory… The museum also preserves and exhibits collections related to the history of art and the history of France.
The museum’s visitable spaces represent an area of 3,900 m2, i.e. a route of 1.5 km. In addition, there are temporary exhibition spaces (360 m2). 3,800 works and objects are exhibited in the permanent route. Among the hundred rooms that make up this route, 34 are decorative rooms, mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The former Carnavalet Hotel and Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau Hotel, two enormous buildings, house an excellent and varied collection. These rooms, sometimes called “period rooms”, are one of the particularities of the museum. The collection including objects from the French Revolution, Medieval items, paintings, sculptures, furniture, photographs and various architectural and decorative objects.
The Carnavalet Museum successfully recreates the living spaces of fifteenth to nineteenth century Parisian houses thanks to an extremely varied and large collection of objects. One of the most interesting halls of the museum is found on the ground floor: a collection of antiques belonging to the city of Paris that includes posters of stores and other businesses beckoning their customers to stop by their shops, lanterns, and models of various window displays. Another highlights of the visit is the Orangery, which was entirely restored in 2000. Major exhibitions are regularly organized here.
The museum reopens in the spring of 2021, after five years of work. During the works, the museography was completely redesigned. While maintaining the most famous rooms and works (Marcel Proust ‘s bedroom, bedroom of the royal family in the Temple tower, etc.), the renovation has led to the route being presented chronologically, from prehistoric times. Certain collections are thus particularly highlighted, such as the archaeological, numismatic, photographic and graphic collections. Nearly 60% of the works have been renewed, and nearly 4,000 works have been restored.
Finally, emphasis was placed on openness to the contemporary period (presentation of works from the 20th and 21st centuries), the modernization of media (with nearly 150 multi and transmedia content), and accessibility to all audiences (10% of the works are thus presented at children’s level).
The land on which the museum stands was purchased in 1544 by Jacques de Ligneris, the president of the Parliament of Paris, who commissioned the architects Pierre Lescot and Jean Goujon to built a townhouse. In 1572, the hôtel was purchased by Madame de Kernevenoy, the widow of a member of the Court of Henry II of France, and the preceptor of the Duke of Anjou, who became Henry III of France.
During this period, the facade and portals were given lavish decoration of Renaissance sculpture, much of which still can be seen. They were the work of the sculptor Jean Goujon and his workshop. From 1660, the famous architect François Mansart raised the porch of the hotel on the current rue de Sévigné and created two new wings. The writer Madame de Sévigné settled there in 1677 until 1694.
Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau is of a more sober style and was built by the architect Pierre Bullet in the 1690s. It has an exceptional architectural element with its grand staircase whose sumptuous handrail in cast iron, molded and chiseled, and not in wrought iron, is a technical feat never repeated before the 19th century.
After the Revolution, it was occupied by the École des ponts et chaussées and then by the Liévyns and Verdot institutions, before it was bought by the city of Paris in 1866 on the advice of Baron Haussmann. It was restored from 1866 by the architect Victor Parmentier, who had just been noticed at the Salon for his study work from the Château de Madrid to the Bois de Boulogne.
The statue of Louis XIV in the costume of a Roman emperor, is one of the very few images of him which survived the French Revolution. It was made by sculptor Antoine Coysevox and depicts the King in the costume of a Roman Emperor. Before the French Revolution it was placed before the Hotel de Ville, and was moved to the museum in 1890.
The facade features a statue of “Immortality” by Louis-Simon Boizot. The gilded “Victory” was the centrepiece of the fountain, and celebrated Napoleon’s triumphant return from Egypt. It was finished in 1806, and placed atop a column with sphinxes spouting water at the base. The statue on display at the Carnavalet is the original model of “Immortality”, holding olive wreaths in both hands.
The building, an historic monument from the 16th century, contains furnished rooms from different periods of Paris history, historic objects, and a very large collection of paintings of Paris life; it features works by artists including Joos Van Cleve, Frans Pourbus the Younger, Jacques-Louis David, Hippolyte Lecomte, François Gérard, Louis-Léopold Boilly, and Étienne Aubry, to Tsuguharu Foujita, Louis Béroud, Jean Béraud, Carolus Duran, Jean-Louis Forain, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Johan Barthold Jongkind, Henri Gervex, Alfred Stevens, Paul Signac, and Simon-Auguste.
Attached to the Carnavalet Museum – History of Paris since the 1960s, its renovation was carried out from 1982 to 1989. Its vast fireplaces, its tiling and its exposed beams have been preserved, for a staging of Parisian interiors throughout the story.
The Carnavalet Museum – History of Paris is the oldest museum in the City of Paris. It opened to the public on February 25, 1880 in the Carnavalet hotel located in the heart of the Marais, one of the districts of the capital where the architectural heritage is particularly well preserved.
Since 1880, the extension of the museum has been important, with the construction of new buildings and the annexation of the hotel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau in 1989. Today, the architecture of the museum offers a history of more than 450 years which unfolds on two mansions. For more than 150 years, its constantly enriched collections have traced the history of Paris, from prehistory to the present day.
The idea of creating a museum of Paris history was launched by Baron Haussmann, who, under Napoleon III, was in the midst of his grand project of building new avenues, parks and squares in the center of the city. In 1866 he persuaded the city of Paris to purchase the Hotel Carnavalet to house the museum, and assembled a large collection of history objects and documents.
Until the museum was completed, the collection was stored, with the city archives, in the vaults of the Hotel de Ville. In May of 1871, in the last days of the Paris Commune, the Communards set fire to the Hotel de Ville, destroying the building, the city archives, and the collection. The door of the original Hotel de Ville, still charred from the fire, is on display in the museum.
In 1872, the building was enlarged on three sides, largely using vestiges of buildings demolished during Hausmann’s construction of the Grand Boulevards in the center of the city. The extension of the museum is immediately decided with galleries in a row of two floors. The facades overlooking the garden incorporate elements of demolished Parisian buildings: the Arc de Nazareth dating from the 16th century, the Drapiers pavilion from the 17th and the Choiseul pavilion from the 18th century.
At 29 rue de Sévigné, the hotel Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau was built between 1688 and 1690, on the plans of Pierre Bullet (1639-1716), architect of the King and the City, on behalf of Michel Le Peletier de Souzy (1640-1725). Its Orangery is remarkable. The buildings were annexed to the museum in 1989. It was then that the Fouquet jewelry store by Alphonse Mucha, the Paris café lounge by Henri Sauvage and the Wendel hotel ballroom by José-Maria Sert were installed.
The collection was gradually rebuilt, and in 1880 the building formally became the museum of the history of Paris. Many more additions followed, as the collection grew. Several sculptures also leave their place of origin to join the museum, such as the statue of King Louis XIV by Antoine Coysevox or the relief of Henri IV by Lemaire (previously installed at the Hôtel de Ville), and also the statue of la Victoire by Louis-Simon Boizot (coming from the Place du Châtelet)… Inside, the routevisit incorporates painted ceilings and sculpted panels, as well as numerous woodwork decorations from Parisian interiors.
At the beginning of the 20th century, two new wings were added in the rear, which enclosed the garden. An even larger expansion program was begun in 1913 by he architect Roger Foucault. The project was interrupted by the First World War, but resumed after the war and was finally completed in 1921, doubling the exposition space in the museum. The new buildings finally enclosed the Cour Henri IV and the courtyard called “de la Victore”.
Expansion continued. In 1989, a nearby mansion, the Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau, was purchased and connected with the museum. This hotel was also built in the middle of the 16th century, and was originally known as the Hôtel d’Orgeval. It was purchased by Michel Le Peletier and passed on eventually to his grandson, Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau, who was a representative of the nobility in the Estates-General of 1789. In 1793, Le Peletier voted for the execution of Louis XVI, and was murdered, in revenge for his vote, on January 20, 1793, the same day as the execution of the king,. The Hôtel Le Peletier de Saint Fargeau was annexed to the Carnavalet. It was opened to the public in 1989, commemorating the bicentennial of the French Revolution.
The museum was closed in 2017 for a major renovation, and reopened in 2021. The Chatillon Architectes agency, associated with Snøhetta and the Agence NC (Nathalie Crinière), carried out major restoration work in the museum over 4 years and renewed the visitor experience, in order to make it a must of the cultural landscape.
The renovation of the museum consisted in particular in restoring its facades, its bays, its courtyards and certain parquet floors, in redefining the visit route and adapting it to the 21st century with bringing it up to standard, creating vertical circulations and new spaces. All of this work has made it possible to magnify the monument and rediscover its architecture while bringing a new lease of life with these large staircases which bring the museum into modernity.
The museum as of 2021 had forty decorated rooms and galleries, and 3800 objects on display. The total collection, as of 2021, included 625,000 objects. Two introductory rooms to present Paris, its symbols, its key data and the history of the creation of the museum and its donors. In the basement, new rooms are emerging to display collections ranging from the Mesolithic period (9600-6000 BC) to the middle of the 16th century. To improve the reception of all, a café-restaurant overlooking the gardens has been set up.
A center of historical, digital and documentary resources will see the light of day. It will promote exploration and collaborative production around the history, archeology and memory of Paris. This space will provide greater access to the 580,000 works from the collections of several departments: graphic arts (drawings, prints, posters), photographs, objects of history and memory, numismatic cabinet, heritage archive funds as well as as the files of works in the museum’s collections.
During the closure, an unprecedented project was undertaken to restore the buildings and collections in order to enhance this exceptional Parisian heritage. Thus, all of the 3,800 works exhibited and the major decorations have been restored. The interventions, ranging from simple dusting to fundamental restoration, were implemented by the conservation and management teams, in collaboration with the management of the collections of Paris Musées within the framework of the scientific commission of the DRAC Ile- of France.
Mediation adapted to the diversity of audiences accompanies the works. Developed in collaboration with all the scientific and cultural teams of the museum, it also required the intervention of many experts from Paris: historians, geographers, town planners, archaeologists, sociologists and economists, literature specialists. Professionals in France and abroad and visitors were also consulted.
Translated into English and Spanish throughout the course, it always offers a contextualization giving the main landmarks, various possibilities for in-depth study and 10% of the works exhibited are installed at child’s height. Digital devices are specifically created (filmed interviews, extracts from archives, animated films and games, projections, listening spaces, audio descriptions, interactive maps, applications and digital labels) to punctuate the journey and complete knowledge of episodes major Parisian histories.
The current collections on display are presented within the two 17th century residences, the Hôtels Carnavalet and Le Pelletier de Saint-Fargeau. Some rooms have their original decoration intact, while others have ben recreated with furnishing and decoration of a certain period. They include furnished rooms from historic residences from the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th snd 20th centuries. The displays cover 3900 square meters, laid out in eight “parcourses” or sequences of rooms from different periods.
The idea of a museum dedicated to the history of Paris became popular during the Second Empire (1852-1870) as the capital grew. In 1866, at the instigation of the prefect of the Seine Haussmann, and perhaps as a compensatory instrument for the destruction of Paris, the municipality acquired the Carnavalet hotel to house the new institution which was to document Paris, while carrying a particular attention to the presentation of the collections.
Since the creation of the museum, authentic objects have been collected, “having belonged” to a personality and thus holding a strong emotional, individual and collective charge. This is how the Carnavalet museum brings together, among other examples, Napoleon I’s campaign kit, the souvenirs of the royal family but also those of the revolutionaries, Zola’s watch as well as Marcel Proust’s bedroom and personal items..
Two pioneering missions aimed at documenting the transformations of Paris also provide a lasting structure to the museum: the supervision of excavations and demolitions thus brings nearly 10,000 archaeological pieces to the museum, and commissions for paintings or photographs of streets and neighborhoods integrate the collections.
Donations are the main mode of acquisition. Since the creation of the museum, tens of thousands of donors have thus contributed to the creation and enrichment of the collections, now structured into 10 departments. The first donors (Jules Cousin, Théodore Vacquer and Alfred de Liesville) even worked at the Carnavalet museum!
Exceptional donations should be highlighted: in 1896, Georges Clemenceau donated to the museum a painting that had belonged to his father, the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”, attributed to Jean-Jacques Le Barbier, or in 1902, the empress Eugénie, widow of Napoleon III, gives the cradle of the prince imperial designed by Victor Baltard.
Today, the Carnavalet – History of Paris museum brings together more than 625,000 works, from prehistory to the present day. Paintings, sculptures, models, signs, drawings, engravings, posters, medals and coins, objects of history and memory, photographs, woodwork, decorations and pieces of furniture… complement each other to form a history and a memory of the capital, uniqueness. The spirit of the place promotes a visit rich in experiences and emotions.
The Exhibit route
The Carnavalet Museum – History of Paris exhibits in its course more than 3,800 works and decorations from prehistory to the present day. The route, which goes from Antiquity to the present day, includes a wide variety of works: archaeological remains, paintings, sculptures, drawings, medals and coins, prints and engravings, photographs, models, furniture, signs, small decorative objects. history and memory (buttons, textiles, boxes, statuettes…) as well as a unique set of works and testimonies on the French Revolution. The reconstruction of Parisian interiors of yesteryear has also done much for the fame of the museum.
PART I: RETAILER GALLERIES AND INTRODUCTORY GALLERIES
Retailer galleries with business signs shape the urban landscape. Deployed in two rooms, the museum’s large collection suggests the evocation of a stroll in a Parisian street passing from one shop to another. The first room is dedicated to the symbols and motto of Paris; it summarizes its development and mentions some places, personalities or major events.
The second room is divided into three distinct sections. The first recounts the origins of the building and then of the museum; the second shows the diversity of the collections that make it up and tell the story of Paris; the third part is dedicated to news from both the museum and the City of Paris: a work from the collection, a new acquisition, a tribute…
PART II: PREHISTORY, ANTIQUITY AND THE MIDDLE AGES
On its lowest level the museum displays an extensive collection of art and practical objects recovered from neolithic sites and from the ancient Gallo-Roman of Lutetia. The gallery also displays objects found in the 1990s at the first permanent settlement known in Paris, in the neighbourhood of Bercy. This discovery included objects related to agriculture, fishing, and raising livestock, dated to 6500–4500 BC.
Discoveries on display include a whole pirogue, or long, narrow canoe made from a single tree trunk. It dates to about 2700 BC, during the Neolithic period. It was discovered in the early 1990s, along with several other pirogues that were even older, at a site located near the modern Rue Henri-Farman in the 19th arrondissement, on what was then a channel of the Seine. Other items on display from this period include earthenware cooking pots, early ceramics, wooden tools, necklaces of otter teeth, and carved female figures. They date back long before the first written description of the village in A.D. 52 in Julius Caesar’s De bello Gallico.
During the Bronze Age a Gallic people called the Parisii settled in the area and founded Lutetia. Its location is traditionally held to be on the Île de la Cité, but their presence is not documented on the left bank of the Seine before the 1st century BC, when Julius Caesar recorded his visit to their leaders on the Île de la Cité. Early coins minted by the Parisii are also displayed, dating to between 90 and 60 BC, with a masculine head in profile, and a horse on the reverse. The coins were used in the extensive river commerce of the Parisii on European rivers. Following the Roman conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, the minting of the coins as stopped.
Following the Roman conquest in the 1st century BC, Lutetia was centred on the left bank, occupying an area of about 130 hectares. Like other Roman cities, it was constructed around the intersection of north-south road (now Rue Saint -Jacques) and an east-west road (now Rue Cujas). Nearby was the amphitheater, near Rue Monge and still present, in much-modified form; and the Forum, at Rue Soufflot, where the government buildings were located. The Roman port was on the Ile-de-la-Cité, and there was a smaller settlement on the right bank of the Seine. Extensive excavations in the 19th century uncovered the paved streets; three large Roman baths; and residences. A group of sculpted heads are on display, which were discovered near the state of the Roman amphitheater in Paris in 1885. The statues had oak crowns, and represented either gods, or the Imperial family.
Two large Roman necropoles, or cemeteries, proved a particularly rich source of discoveries for the museum. The southern cemetery, the Necropole of Pierre Nicole, near Val-de-Grace, was the most important under the High Empire, and was used until the Fourth Century AD. The excavations there between 1870 and 1970, uncovered some four hundred sepulchres, with furniture, sculpture and inscriptions. The Necropole of the Gobelins, in the Faubourg Saint-Marcel, was smaller, and was used in the later, or Low Empire. The most valuable discovery there was a set of surgical instruments dating from the Second Century AD.
The excavations of the amphitheater site were particularly meticulous; they were directed by Thèodore Vacquer, who became under-conservator of the Carnavalet Museum in 1870. One especially important discovery by Vacquer was the fresco on the wall of the house of a wealthy Roman, with colors still largely vivid, discovered under the current rue de l’Abbaye-de-l’Epee. Other objects discovered include a sword from the Bronze Age (2000–800 B.C.); a fourth-century bottle used for perfume, wine, or honey.
The Medieval and Renaissance section presents displays and objects from the 5th to 16th century, beginning in 451 AD, when Saint Genevieve inspired the resistance of the city against Atilla and Huns. In 481, under Clovis, King of the Franks, she became the patron Saint of Paris. Her tomb, placed in the new Basilica of the Holy Apostles on what is now Mount Sainte-Genevieve, This church became the beginning point of an annual procession to the Île de la Cité. This island became administrative center of the Kingdom of France, the home of the royal palace, the Palais de la Cité, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, which was consecrated 1163. During this period, the city grew rapidly. By 1328, at the beginning of the 14th century, the city had 250,000 inhabitants, making it the largest city in Europe.
The exhibited collections all come from archaeological excavations that are decisive for the knowledge of the prehistoric period in Paris. The entire Mesolithic background (–9000 to –5000) presented in the first room comes from the excavation carried out in rue Henri-Farman in the 15th arrondissement. She unearthed the remains of a hunter-gatherer camp. This hunting stopover from a few days to several weeks has preserved traces of occupation: hearth, consumption of animals, flint knapping shards which testify to the manufacture of tools and weapons, especially arrowheads.
The Neolithic remains (–6500 to –4500) exhibited in the second room are exceptional. They were found during excavations carried out in the district of Bercy which made it possible to identify the trace of three buildings, a palisade and a pontoon evoking a village on the edge of an old channel of the Seine. Several oak canoes, one of which is on display, and a yew wood bow are among the key finds from this excavation, which are entirely in the archaeological collections of the museum.
The first two rooms are devoted to the Gallic people of the Parisii who settled around the 3rd century BC and to their development, starting with the Roman conquest. Several scientific hypotheses coexist about the precise location of Lutèce, their main city. From the Parisii, the museum notably exhibits gold coins of remarkable quality.
With the conquest of Gaul by the Romans, the Romanization of the Parisii can be observed from the 1st century AD. Roman representations and ways of life are adopted, not without erasing Gallic culture. For example, gods and goddesses of the two cultures mingle on the pillar of the Nautes or form new couples like the Gallic goddess Rosmerta and the Roman god Mercury exhibited in this room.
The third room in this section presents Gallo-Roman Lutetia. The imposing sculpted stone blocks and the many decorative elements presented come from different public spaces in the city: the arenas, the forum, the thermal baths and the aqueducts. The domestic sphere – devoted to tableware, everyday objects and rituals, and even personal hygiene – is exhibited in the display cases in the center of the room. The painted panel of a house, scripted by a projection, punctuates this set.
PART III: PARIS, FROM 1547 TO THE 18TH CENTURY
One of the prominent displays in this section is a scale mode of the Île de la Cité as it appeared in 1527. The model was made by the artist Fedor Hoffbauer and his son, Charles, between 1860 and 1870. During the restoration of the Cathedral, carried out by Eugene Viollet-Le-Duc and Jean-Baptiste Antoine Lapsus between 1844 and 1864, important objects from the medieval city were discovered and made their way to the Museum. The construction of the Palais de Justice and other administrative buildings on the island led to the destruction of many medieval buildings, including six churches. Objects from these churches are preserved in the Museum.
The section displays a collection of sculptural elements, including busts of Saints and apostles, that formerly belonged to the Church of the Saints-Innocents, which was demolished as the neighbourhood expanded. These include a well-preserved 14th-century sculpture of the head of the Virgin Mary, peaceful and contemplative, despite the tumultuous events that decimated the city at that time: the Hundred Years’ War and the Great Plague of 1348 These statues were found in 1973 during the excavation of a new shopping and convention center, the Forum of Les Halles, on the site of the historic city produce market.
The gallery also displays a group of six stained glass windows, originally in the chapel of the College of Dormans-Beauvais, built in 1375 by the architect Raymond du Temple. They are attributed to Baudoin de Soissons and the painter Jean de Bruges.
The end of the 16th century saw Paris divided during the French Wars of Religion (1562–1598), then rebuilt by a series of strong monarchs. New institutions emerged, including the guild of Paris merchants and the municipal magistrates.Henry IV of France (reigned 1589-1601) began major new urban construction projects; the Louvre was gradually transformed from a medieval fortress into a sprawling palace, connected to the Tuileries Palace. Grand new royal squares were created at Place Dauphine and the Place Royal, now Place des Vosges. The Pont Neuf was constructed over the Île de la Cité, adding a major link between the two banks of the Seine
In his urban planning, Louis XIV promised to “Do for Paris what Augustus did for Rome.” Among his many projects, he completed the Cour Carré of the Louvre, imagined by Henry IV, and created two grand royal squares, Place des Victoires and Place Louis-Le-Grand (now Place Vendôme. In 1670 he tore down old city walls and gates and replaced them with four triumphal arches, of which two, at Porte Saint-Martin and Porte Saint-Denis, still remain.
The squares and palaces of Paris were decorated with monumental sculpture of the Kings. Most of these were destroyed during the Revolution, but fragments of the original monumental statue of Henry IV on the Pont Neuf are on display in this section of the museum, as well as pieces of the statue of Louis XV that formerly stood in the Place de la Concorde.
Louis XIV founded the royal workshops for cabinet-making, tapestries and other decorative items to furnish the royal palaces and the residences of wealthy Parisians. The Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture was founded in Paris in 1648, during the regency of Anne of Austria. The Carnavalet Museum has many examples of the work of its students; furniture designed by cabinet-maker Andre-Charles Boulle, noted for its inlays of previous woods and metals, is found in this section. The painter Charles Le Brun, who primarily worked for Louis XIV, also decorated the homes of private clients. His decoration for two salons of the Hôtel La Rivière made in 1652-55, was acquired to the Carnavalet in 1958.
The Salon Demarteau is a masterpiece of 18th century painting and design. It was originally made for the residence of the engraver Gilles Demarteau.It recreates a fantasy of an idyllic country scene, painted by François Boucher in 1765, with the assistance of two other prominent 18th century painters, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and the animal painter Jean-Baptiste Huet. After the death of Demarteau the decor was moved to other Paris residences, before being purchased by Musée Carnavalet.
The museum displays two 18th-century rooms from the Hôtel de Breteuil, a large mansion on Rue Matignon, which was the residence of the Vicomte de Breteuil and his wife. It illustrates the height of the Louis XVI style, just before the French Revolution. The new style was characterised by symmetry, straight lines, and ornaments adapted from antiquity, such as acanthus leaves and egg-shaped designs.
The Salon d’Uzès (1767) was main room for entertaining company in the Hôtel d’Uzès, a mansion on rue Montmartre. It was designed by the architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, who planned the elaborate neoclassical woodwork made by Joseph Métivier and Jean-Baptiste Boiston. The woodwork is full of Greco-Roman symbols, including the sceptre and the lyre. Each of the four doors has a sculpted decoration of an animal representing a continent; an alligator for America, a camel for Africa, an elephant for Asia and a horse for Europe.
The Salon of Philosophers displays the armchair of the philosopher Voltaire. It was ordered for him by the Marquis de Vilette, in whose residence on the Quai de Conti Voltaire spent his last days before his death in February 1778. It was made of carved and gilded oak, with cushions of velour, and movable wooden and iron shelves for his books and papers. It could be rolled from room to room.
The cabinet of the Hôtel Colbert-de-Villacerf, preserved after that building was demolished, also represents the lavish style of the 17th century. It displays a portrait of Cardinal Mazarin from about 1665. The walls are decorated with grotesque polychrome paintings and gilding.
Other works on display from this period include a painting depicting the celebration of the marriage of Louis XIII with Anne of Austria, which took place on the place Royale (now the Place des Vosges) in April, 1612. There are several paintings of Madame de Sévigné, who lived in the house from 1677 until her death in 1696. Her letters to her daughter comprise the most detailed portrait of social and cultural life in Paris during the period.
From the Middle Ages to the Beginning of the 16th Century
The corridor separating the Antiquity room from the following ones marks an introduction to the Middle Ages; the link between the figure of Geneviève and Paris is developed here. The visitor follows the path of the procession of the relics of the patron saint through the city and thus enters the medieval period. In the rooms of the Middle Ages, the history of Paris is presented both by works and fragments of architecture of the time and by later works, dating in particular from the 19th century which then engages in a defense and safeguarding unique heritage.
The first room in this section focuses on the territory of the Île de la Cité, the heart of medieval Paris bringing together political and religious powers. In the center of the room, a model of the island makes it possible to visualize the urban space and its density. An exceptional gargoyle from Notre-Dame cathedral dominates the room. In the window, the products of an archaeological dig, rue de Lutèce, provide a striking testimony to the daily life of the period. On display are wooden crockery and leather shoes in a very good state of conservation.
After the Ile de la Cité, the route leads the visitor to the left bank of the Seine, first outside the walls of the medieval town, to discover the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and its royal necropolis then within its walls, with in particular the presentation of a selection of colleges that made up the university space of the time: the Bernardins (founded in 1245), the Prémontrés (1252), the Sorbonne (1257), de Navarre (1304) and of Beauvais (1370). In the Middle Ages, the University of Paris attracted 3,000 to 4,000 students. Many fragments, notably stained glass windows, from these colleges are on display.
A focus, within the course, develops this question and presents two Parisian cemeteries: that of the Innocents, in the current district of Les Halles used for nearly seven centuries, and the Jewish cemetery of the rue Pierre-Sarrazin, main testimony of the large Jewish community established in Paris in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The last part of this section is devoted to the organization of the administration of the City of Paris under the reigns of Philippe Auguste (1180-1223) and Louis IX (1226-1270). Paris sets up a municipality. Powers are distributed between many and different actors: the landlords, the king’s provost, the provost of bourgeois merchants, the aldermen… The section ends with François I who ordered the construction of a town hall in 1533, at its current location.
Mid 16th century to 17th century
Three rooms focus on the religious, political, administrative and economic history of the reigns of Henri II and Catherine de Médicis to Louis XIV. Then comes the gallery devoted to the major urban transformations experienced by the capital during the same period, from Henri IV to Louis XIV. The Parisian space is profoundly modified with the creation of the Place Dauphine, the Pont-Neuf, the development of the Place Royale, current Place des Vosges, then the Place des Victoires and the current Place Vendôme…
In the following three rooms, magnificent large 17th century decorations – the Colbert de Villacerf salon and the two La Rivière salons painted by Charles Le Brun – bring together all the arts. An essential figure in the intellectual life of the 17th century, Madame de Sévigné contributed to the influence of the capital. In three rooms, the visitor discovers the famous epistolary with in particular her portrait and the secretary on which she wrote the famous letters addressed to her daughter. La Fontaine, Corneille, Molière… are his contemporaries.
The 18th Century
The developments and embellishments of Paris carried out under the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI are presented in the three “Conflans rooms”. After a salon with Far Eastern-inspired decor, a room is dedicated to the Regency and the beginning of the reign of Louis XV. On the death of Louis XIV in 1715, Louis XV was too young to reign, a period of regency was established until 1723. Versailles was no longer the place of residence of royal power; political, administrative and economic decisions are taken in the capital.
The years 1730 to 1750 are developed in six period rooms called “Bouvier rooms” in accordance with the clauses of the important bequest of a Parisian antique dealer. The pieces of furniture and decorative art objects on display reflect the lifestyle of privileged social groups. Each piece bears witness to the creativity and quality of Parisian craftsmanship in the 18th century.century, enriched by the history of the trades and the neighborhoods where they are located. Cabinetmakers, carpenters, sculptors, watchmakers, bronziers, founders, gilders have worked to transmit, over several generations, a unique know-how. The habitat of wealthy Parisians is changing. New furnishings, lighter and more varied, see the light of day. Tableware, with goldsmithery, ceramics and glassware, testifies to great refinement.
Parisian interiors from the second half of the 18th century are presented in four “Breteuil rooms”, arranged in a row. They are followed by three rooms dedicated to the unbuilt spaces that the capital then had. First the Jardin des Plantes as a space for scientific study, then the follies and picturesque gardens created in and around the city, finally the open-air performance spaces for the public who came to watch the departure of a flight, for example. in a balloon or a fireworks display.
The route then resumes with a focus on the architect Nicolas Ledoux. First, the Military Café, reserved for officers, located rue Saint-Honoré, opened in 1762. The decoration was entrusted to a young architect still unknown, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux. On either side of the four exposed panels, fasces and helmets structure the decor composed of trophies representing the shield of Athena with the head of Medusa, the club of Hercules, the remains of the Nemean lion, the thunderbolt of Jupiter, evoking strength, generosity, speed and invincibility.
Next, the company lounge at the Hôtel d’Uzès. In 1768, the Duke of Uzès, its owner, entrusted Claude-Nicolas Ledoux with major renovation work. The architect is also in charge of decorating the company lounge, lit by two French windows opening onto the garden. The decor is punctuated by, alternately, four mirrors, four double doors and six large panels sculpted with weapon trophies hung on laurels. On the doors are the four parts of the world according to the iconography of Cesare Ripa, Italian author of the Renaissance: the alligator evokes America, the dromedary Africa, the elephant Asia and the horse Europe.
The last part of the tour is devoted to the intellectual influence of Paris and the main actors of the Enlightenment era. On either side of the Luynes landing, the encyclopaedists Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert face the philosophers Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Several objects that belonged to them or in their likeness are exhibited, as many testimonies of their great popularity. In the next room, the exchanges between France and the United States of America in their conquest of independence are discussed, placed under the tutelary figure of Benjamin Franklin.
The section ends with Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, another ardent defender of freedom of expression, whose writings foreshadowed the French Revolution.
PART IV: THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY
Public discontent and hunger, and a royal government in Versailles judged out of touch with the hardships of the Parisians, led to the storming of the Bastille in July 1789 and the downfall of the monarchy. Louis XVI and his family were brought to Paris and imprisoned in the Tuileries Palace, then in the medieval tower on the Square du Temple. A moderate revolutionary government took power, but was replaced by the more radical Montagnard faction,, led by Robespierre.
The King was held 13 August 1792 to 21 January 1793, when he was taken to be guillotined at the Place de la Révolution; Marie Antoinette was imprisoned from 13 August 1792 to 1 August 1793 in the Temple’s tower. The Montagnards imprisoned and then executed the more moderate revolutionaries during the Great Terror. Robespierre and his followers were in turn arrested and killed. A series of interim governments took and lost power, until finally Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in 1799, bringing the Revolutionary period to an end.
On the Second Level, The museum presents the most extensive existing collection of historic objects and art relating to the French Revolution. This part of the collection is located was the Hotel Le Pelletier de Saint-Fargeau. It was the residence of a prominent revolutionary figure, Louis-Michel Le Pelletier de Saint-Fargeau. He was a Deputy of the radical Montagnard faction, who was assassinated on 20 January, 1793, because he had voted for the execution of King Louis XVI.
One notable feature remaining from the building of his time is the very ornate cast-iron stairway of honour to the upper floor. The walls decorated with gilded woodwork and mirrors, also original, illustrate the refined classical style of the late 18th century.
One furnished room in the section depicts the cell at the Temple Prison where the Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their son were held prisoner beginning August 13, 1792. After the King’s trial and execution one January 21, 1793, She was transferred to the Conciergerie for her own trial on October 14, 1793. She was sentenced to death two days later, and taken directly the guillotine on the Place de la Concorde. The furniture is original, but th room is not a exact recreation, but an “evocation” of the original room.
Other works and objects relating to the Revolution include one of the original stones of the Bastille prison, carved into a replica of the prison. Eighty-three of these miniature Bastilles were carved in 1790 and one sent to each of the Departments of France by the new government.
During the 19th century, Paris was the scene of three revolutions and was administered by six different governments, each of which left its imprint on the city. Beginning in 1800, under Napoleon Bonaparte, Paris was governed directly by the Prefect of the Government of the Seine, and a Prefect of Polce, both named by him. After his Coronation as Emperor in 1804, Napoleon set out to embellish Paris as his Imperial capital. His architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine, constructed the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli, and placed a column with his statue on Place Vendome, modelled after that of the Roman Emperor Trajan in Rome.
He decorated the fountain on Place du Châtelet with a statue of victory, to celebrate his Egyptian and Italian campaign. In 1899, the statue was moved to the courtyard of the museum. Personal souvenirs of Napoleon displayed in the museum include the case of dishes and silverware which he took with him on his military campaigns, and his death mask. It also displays paintings of notable Parisians of the time, including the celebrated portrait of Juliette Récamier by François Gérard (1805).
Following the final downfall and exile of Napoleon in 1815, the restored French king, Charles X faced the political turbulence of the Parisians. In 1830 he attempted to bring it under control by ending freedom of the press and reducing the size of the Chamber of Deputies. This aroused an even greater fury among the Parisians. During 27-30 July 1830, known as the “Trois Glorieuses”, the Parisians rebelled, forcing the King abdicate and to depart Paris for exile.
His place was taken by King Louis Philippe. This revolution was commemorated by two new Paris monuments, the Arc de Triumph on the Etoile[disambiguation needed] and the July Column in the center of the Place de la Bastille. In 1834, Louis Philippe also had the Luxor Obelisk, brought from Egypt, raised into place in the center of the Place de la Concorde. An epidemic of cholera struck Paris in 1832; the overcrowded neighbourhoods in the center of the city were particularly hard hit. Louis Philippe responded with construction of the first network of Paris sewers, and the construction of new and wider streets.
Discontent with Louis Philippe appeared in the February Revolution of 1848, with new demonstrations and riots in Paris. A new French Republic was proclaimed, and Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, was elected President. At the end of 1851 he orchestrated a coup d’Etat and proclaimed himself Napoleon III Emperor.
The French Revolution
The museum preserves the largest set in the world of works of art and objects of history dating from the years 1789 to 1799. In this section, the route presents, from the collections, a visual and material chronicle of ten years exceptional for Paris and France. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, pieces of furniture, ceramics, medals, accessories and objects testify to unique days, deeply rooted in history as well as in the collective memory.
The route begins with the painting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen donated to the museum by Georges Clemenceau. Voted on August 26, 1789 by the National Constituent Assembly, the declaration founded new political aspirations. The monarchical regime was not questioned during the first years of the Revolution.
The General State
Paris has approximately 600,000 inhabitants. Affected by the economic crisis, many Parisians are mobilizing. Riots break out. Finance Minister Necker remains popular. Louis XVI convenes the Estates General. In this section, with a window in the center of the room, one can discover, printed on silk, the king’s speech at the opening of the States General on May 5, 1789. Opposite, the sculpted busts of the deputies Mirabeau and Barnave allow to mention the many speakers of the Constituent Assembly. It is possible to sit here and listen to excerpts from some founding speeches.
On the opposite side are exhibited among other works an engraving representing the three ordersand the bust of Jacques-Guillaume Thouret. The deputy of Rouen had the creation of the departments of France adopted; to be noted on the right, in a medallion, the drawing of the newly created department of the Seine. On the wall, the sketch of the Tennis Court Oath faces this set in the window.
The Storming of the Bastille, July 14, 1789
This part of the route details, day by day, the days of July 12 to 14, 1789, until the storming of the Bastille, and the role of the eastern suburbs of Paris. Unmissable, the famous painting by Hubert Robert occupies the central picture rail of the space. Opposite, a showcase brings together many objects from the Bastille such as keys, handcuffs or even fragments of the building, whose stone blocks have been carved and marked. Jean-Baptiste Palloy, the contractor in charge of the demolition, thus made many commemorative objects of the event from the demolition stones.
In the center of the room and in the window, the monumental stove in the shape of the Bastille. Produced by the Olivier factory, it was installed from 1792 at the National Convention, Salle du Manège, at the Tuileries. This imposing representation, three years after the storming of the Bastille, shows the force of the event, during the revolutionary period and since then.
Summer and Autumn 1789
Here, the course explores the establishment of a new power, municipal, in Paris. For the first time, in July 1789, the administration of the capital was entrusted to an elected mayor and to a general assembly of elected representatives of the Commune. The Parisian National Guard, in charge of the security of the city, is created; it is commanded by La Fayette, under the orders of the municipality.
The bust of the first mayor of Paris, Jean-Sylvain Bailly, opens this section. Opposite, a map of Paris with a new administrative division into 48 sections, introduced in May 1790, is proposed. A showcase is devoted to two major dates: first, the night of August 4 to 5, 1789, during which the deputies voted to abolish the institutions and privileges of the Ancien Régime, then October 5 and 6, 1789, which mark the arrival of the King and his family at the Tuileries Palace. They left Versailles never to return.
Federation Day, July 14, 1790
A grand national ceremony was held on July 14, 1790 at the Champ-de-Mars: the Fête de la Fédération. It aims to stage the adhesion of the French and their king to the constitutional project. Thus, a huge crowd takes an oath “to the Nation, to the Law and to the King”. Yet serious tensions remain.
Between the two windows, the large painting by Charles Thévenin is placed opposite a seat. This break allows you to immerse yourself in the ceremony. A sound device, broadcasting excerpts from Te Deum by Gossec and the popular song Ah! ca ira, allows you to experience the intensity of the commemoration of the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille.
On one side of the room, in a display case, one can discover several objects associated with the event, such as a woman’s shoe, a fan or even several miniatures. So many testimonies of the popular jubilation that dominated this day. The iconography of the Revolution develops and finds an echo in all the decorative arts: in the center of the space, a chest of drawers, a two-piece wardrobe and panels of toile de Jouy have this new ornamental repertoire in common.
The Years 1791-1792
On the night of June 20 to 21, 1791, Louis XVI and his family tried to flee. Intercepted in Varennes, they are brought back to Paris, in a tense atmosphere. In a wall bell is exposed a coin that the king would have had in his pocket, during his arrest. Above, an engraved wooden plaque is presented. It suggests the instant broadcast of the event. After the flight of the king, the majority of the deputies chose the compromise of a constitutional monarchy: on September 14, 1791, the king took the oath to the Constitution.
The wearing of signs of recognition and the dissemination of symbols are widely developed. In 1791, the ashes of Voltaire entered the Pantheon. A window is dedicated to this first pantheonization with in particular a magnificent shaped belt worn by a little girl who followed the procession.
The last showcase in this room is devoted to the storming of the Tuileries on August 10, 1792. Several exhibits of history and memory on display testify to this major event of the Revolution: a shoe of Queen Marie-Antoinette taken by one invaders, a small milk jug found in Louis XVI’s room, the last order given by the king to Colonel Dürler, commander of the Swiss Guards, or even an embroidered fleur-de-lis.
The powers of the king were suspended and a new assembly was elected by universal male suffrage: the National Convention decided, on September 21, 1792, to abolish the monarchy. The next day, France enters, in fact, into a republic.
The Beginnings of the First Republic (1792-1795)
In this room devoted to the great figures of the Convention, the portraits of the three martyrs of the Revolution – Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, Marat and Chalier – face a display case bringing together numerous objects of history and memory that belonged to them as Charlotte Corday’s bonnet, Marat’s bathroom door handles…
The frontal portraits of Camille and Lucile Desmoulins, of Danton, Robespierre, Saint-Just and Hérault of Seychelles, are also associated with objects that belonged to them. Also shown are the numerous republican festivals staged by the painter David, such as the feast of the Supreme Being.
The Directory (1795-1799)
In this room, a first section is devoted to political, administrative and financial life under the Executive Board. Founded by the Constitution of Year III (August 22, 1795), this regime takes its name from the five directors who collectively exercise executive power. A second set is assigned to many newly created scientific and cultural institutions. Thus, we find the portraits in particular, of the chemist Jean-Antoine Chaptal and the composer Étienne-Nicolas Méhul.
The center of the room is occupied by a window dedicated to the “incredibles and marvelous”, this current of Parisian youth with an ostentatious lifestyle. Finally, a focus is proposed on the role of Napoleon Bonaparte during these four years, during which his European conquests marked the territory of Paris.
The Legacy of the French Revolution in the Museum’s Collections
Following the chronological route, this room sets out to show the extent of the revolutionary legacy in iconography, memories and ideas. Thus, in the windows, several focuses explore: the secularization of place names, the republican calendar, the implementation of the complete metric system or even the symbolic and allegorical representations of the rights of man and of the citizen, of freedom, of reason…
Napoleon I (Reign 1804-1815): Dreams And Modernization Of A Capital
The portrait of Juliette Récamier welcomes this new part of the journey which makes the link between the Consulate and the First Empire. In the large central display case, a selection of works testifies to the high quality of technical and artistic creation of crafts and goldsmithing in Paris under the First Empire. Many objects of art and history, such as Napoleon I’s campaign kit, are exceptional. Drawings, prints and decorative elements complete the set.
The second part explores, through a few examples, the grand design of Napoleon I for Paris both in the creation of new spaces and symbolic buildings (drilling of roads, columns and triumphal arches marking military victories, etc.) in public construction involving civil engineering and engineering (canals, bridges, fountains, halls, etc.). Napoleon I inscribed in the capital an architecture carrying a double ambition: to stage the imperial power and to bring a better quality of life to a population which, from 1801 to 1811, grew from 547,756 to 622,631 inhabitants.
The Restorations (1814-1830)
After the abdication of Napoleon I on April 6, 1814, Paris was occupied by a coalition of European allies. The upheaval of the Hundred Days in 1815 ended with the defeat of Waterloo. This interlude separates the two Restorations which see Louis XVIII (1814-1824) and Charles X (1824-1830) succeed each other on the throne of France.
The route first presents the urban transformations that the city continues to experience and offers in particular a focus on the galleries of the Palais Royal, a new fashionable district. The painter Boilly, whose Carnavalet museum has exceptional works, is in the spotlight. Like the remarkable achievements of a Parisian cabinetmaker and entrepreneur Louis-François Puteaux.
A section develops the Parisian shows of the time. The portraits of Malibran, Mademoiselle Mars, the singer Béranger or even a pair of theater binoculars, a diadem of stage costumes, a card holder, finely decorated candy boxes… allow you to dive into the effervescence of the boulevards. At the Théâtre-Français or Italien, at the Opera or at the Opéra-Comique, authors, actors, singers, dancers and singers are adored.
1830 – Revolutionary Days
On July 27, 28 and 29, 1830, Paris was the scene of revolutionary days. The key idea of Les Trois Glorieuses is “Freedom”. Through objects of history and memory, drawings, newspaper articles, paintings and an imposing model of the town hall, the route offers a chronicle, day by day, of these days. 1830 constitutes a major caesura in the history of Paris. From political actions to barricades and street fights, from collective petitions to civic guards, emerge political ideas, myths and figures of heroes disseminated throughout Europe.
The July Monarchy (1830-1848)
The arrival of Louis-Philippe at the Hôtel de Ville marks the beginning of the July Monarchy. Political caricature developed with Daumier in particular, whose easel, palette and brushes are owned by the Musée Carnavalet.
A large transchronological showcase is devoted to the triumphal axis from the Bastille to the Arc de Triomphe, whose constructions or developments were completed under the July Monarchy. The July column on the Place de la Bastille was inaugurated in 1840 and major projects were also inaugurated, such as the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, while on the Place de la Concorde, the obelisk came specially from Louqsor..
Paris, Capital of Romanticism
From 1830, carried by the spirit of freedom and the Trois Glorieuses revolution, Paris became a real intellectual and artistic melting pot. The portraits of the following personalities are on display: the writers Victor Hugo and Eugène Sue, the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, crowned “lion of the piano”, and his companion, the writer Marie d’Agoult… In the windows, personal objects such as the writing desk by Eugène Sue rub shoulders with statuettes by the sculptor Dantan.
The Revolution of 1848 (February 22-24 and June 23-25)
The route devotes a room to the 1848 revolution, which the richness of the museum’s collections allows to deepen in an exceptional way. On a platform, the cylinder secretary of King Louis-Philippe occupies the center of the room. The traces of the break-in by the revolutionaries on February 24, 1848, are still visible.
The showcases, for their part, present a profusion of memorabilia recounting the two periods of this revolution: pipes-caricatures of personalities, pistol, tokens, nail with four branches thrown during the riots, powder pot of the insurgents of the Faubourg Saint -Antoine, posters… The portraits of personalities of the period such as Alphonse de Lamartine, Alexandre Ledru-Rollin, François Arago, Edgar Quinet respond to them. Some took the road to exile.
Finally, a section is dedicated to the beginnings of photography, created in Paris. Works by pioneering photographers such as Charles François Thibault, Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq and Charles Nègre are on display: Paris and the key events of the time are now also photographed.
PART V: THE SECOND 19TH CENTURY, FROM THE 20TH CENTURY TO THE PRESENT DAY
Napoleon III played an important role in creating the present extent and map of Paris. On January 6, 1848, he expanded the city from twelve to twenty-one arrondissements. taking in the surrounding communes that were outside the city walls. He named Georges Eugene Haussmann, as his prefect of the Seine, and began construction of a new network of tree-lined boulevards and avenues linking new public squares and monuments. He also demolished blocks of overcrowded and unhealthy housing in the center.
On the edges of the city he created major parks, including the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, modelled upon the parks he had seen during his exile in London. These new Parisian parks soon served as models for parks in other cities, including Central Park in New York. In addition, he built new theatres and concert halls, including the Paris Opera, adding to the city’s reputation as a cultural capital.
Following the capture of Napoleon III by the Prussians at the Battle of Sedan on 2 September 1870, Paris was besieged by the Prussian army. Despite shortages of food and water, the city endured the siege until January 1871, when an armistice was signed by the French government. A party of leftist Parisians, known as the Paris Commune, refused to accept the armistice or the rule of the French government. The Commune lasted for 72 days, until, during the Semaine Sanglante (21-28 May, 1871) the city was recaptured by the French Army. In the final days of the Commune, its soldiers set fires and destroyed many Paris landmarks, including the Hotel de Ville and the Tuileries Palace.
The Belle Epoque was a flourishing period for Paris cultural life. It was particularly expressed at the international expositions in 1889, which gave the city the Eiffel Tower, and 1900 Paris International Exposition, which added the Grand Palais and the Paris Metro. An important collection of paintings by major illustrators of Paris life in the period, including Henri Gervex, Carlolus-Duran, Louise Abbéma and Jean Béraud was donated to the Museum in 2001 by François-Gérard Seligmann, and is displayed in the corridor of the first floor.
The section also includes a colourful variety of posters from the epoch created by Alphonse Mucha and other artists, including posters for the Chat Noir and Moulin Rouge cabaret. A painting by Paul-Joseph-Victor Dargaud depicts the assembly of the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World). The iron pieces were formed at the boundary of Gaget on rue de Chazelles in Paris, then disassembled and shipped to New York in pieces. Jean Béraud (1849-1935), born in St. Petersburg, Russia, became a meticulous painter of Paris society. The museums holds more than eighty of his works.
The Art Nouveau style first was born in Brussels shortly before the end of the 19th century, and quickly moved to Paris. It was vividly expressed in the Paris metro stations and posters of Alphonse Mucha. Two landmark rooms in the Art Nouveau style are displayed in the museum; a private dining room in the Art Nouveau from the Café de Paris(1899), and the jewellery shop of Georges Fouquet, designed by Alphonse Mucha (1901).
The renovated museum opened in 2021 includes, for the first time, a series of rooms devoted to Paris history In the 20th and 21st centuries.
Napoleon III and Haussmann: A Growing And Changing City
On December 2, 1852, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte became Emperor of the French under the name of Napoleon III. The City of Paris, which then had 1 million inhabitants, had to face major demographic and urban planning challenges. To transform it, Napoleon III appointed Georges Eugène Haussmann prefect of the Seine on June 22, 1853. At the head of a remarkable administration, he launched major works.
In this first part, the works presented testify to the vision that animated the Emperor: the portrait of Haussmann by Henri Lehmann responds to the large painting Napoleon III handing over to Baron Haussmann the decree of annexation of the bordering towns by Frédéric Yvon. A set of tokens commemorating administrative decisions completes this important focus devoted to the transformation of the city. In a showcase, the cradle of Prince Imperial Louis-Napoleon occupies the center of the space. Designed by Victor Baltard and many contemporary artists, it bears witness to the excellence of the Parisian decorative arts of the period.
The example chosen for this section is the opening of the avenue de l’Opéra with photographs taken by Charles Marville and a painting by Félix Buhot. The Pythia by Marcello donated to the museum by the fashion designer Worth is an exceptional work. With the construction of performance halls and the revival of the decorative arts, Paris brilliantly reaffirms its rank as the capital of arts and entertainment. In the center of the room, in a large display case, several works bear witness to these changes, such as the game of the new Paris.
The Siege of Paris (September 18, 1870 – January 28, 1871)
On July 19, 1870, Napoleon III declared war on Germany. Chaining defeats, he capitulated on September 2 in Sedan. The German army surrounds Paris, which is no longer connected to the rest of the country except by balloons or carrier pigeons. Deprivations are quickly felt. In the poorest neighborhoods, the Parisian population depends on municipal canteens. 40,000 deaths could be attributed to the blockade. Forced to surrender, France signed the armistice on January 28, 1871.
In this room, the daily life of the siege of Parisians is told by the most diverse works: shells, carrier pigeon feather, mill ball, commemorative dishes and tokens, menus, photographs and paintings showing the destruction caused by the bombings, the queues in front of the grocery stores due to rationing or even a seller of rats, then consumed for lack of meat.
The 72 Days of the Paris Commune (March 18-May 28, 1871)
The people of Paris did not accept the French defeat, emancipated themselves from the executive power and proclaimed the Paris Commune on March 28. This is the first experience of communal self-government, which lasts 72 days, until the army offensive to retake Paris between May 21 and 28, 1871. The major personalities of the period, both politicians and journalists, are presented: Jules Vallès, Séverine, Louise Michel, Auguste Blanqui, or even the sculpted bust of Henri Rochefort.
In the windows, a selection of objects of history and memory complete the set: bachelor’s degree and red scarf of an elected official from the 15th arrondissement by Jules Vallès, snuffboxes and matchboxes bearing the slogan “Vive la Commune », fragment of the flag of the communards… The destruction of the Vendôme column (drawing and model) is associated with Gustave Courbet (photograph), author of a portrait of Jules Vallès, one of the masterpieces of the Carnavalet museum.
The section ends with the tragic episode of Bloody Week (21-28 May 1871) during which 7,000 to 10,000 people died. The communards set fire to many public buildings on May 23 and 24, such as the Hôtel de Ville. Paintings, photographs and objects of memory testify to these terrible days experienced by Paris and its inhabitants.
The Third Republic and Paris
The Third Republic continues to be visible in Paris today, through schools, the Sorbonne University, and the many monuments and statues exalting the symbols of the new republican regime, the Republic and Liberty. A focus is devoted to the national funeral of Victor Hugo and his burial in the Pantheon. Commemorative plates, engravings, press articles and photographs of the procession allow us to experience the immense popular emotion that accompanied this moment. In counterpoint, anti-republican oppositions are emerging. A showcase-drawer is devoted to General Boulanger with an astonishing collection of pipes and objects bearing his likeness that the museum owns.
In this room, the route offers a thematic focus on Montmartre between the years 1875 and 1914. Still very rural, the top of the hill attracts poets, singers, writers, painters, illustrators, musicians… Everyone appreciates the many balls, cabarets and cafes animating the boulevards Barbès, Rochechouart, Clichy around the places Pigalle and Blanche. These places have picturesque names like The Black Cat or The Dead Rat. A collection of works relating to the universal exhibitions of 1878, 1889 and 1900 is brought together for the first time.
Paris “Belle Epoque”
Designating the pivotal moment between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, within a period shaken by strong social tensions, the “Belle Époque”, an expression forged a posteriori, seems an enchanted parenthesis of which Paris is the setting. Gathered on a single picture rail, more than 40 paintings donated by Mr. and Mrs. Seligmann, including works by Jean Béraud, Henri Gervex and Louise Abbéma, offer a living chronicle of Parisian sociability. Thus we pass from the streets of the capital to the great cafés, from Parisian parks to social evenings, from portraits of actresses to cozy interiors.
The two following rooms present the decorations brought back from the Café de Paris, a renowned restaurant located at 41, avenue de l’Opéra, by Henri Sauvage and Louis Majorelle, and from the Fouquet jewelry store, created in 1901 by the artist Alfons Mucha. It is the full blossoming of the Art Nouveau style, expression of a taste for asymmetry and for the line “in whiplash”, which invests architecture and the decorative arts.
Marcel Proust (1871-1922)
The furniture and objects by Marcel Proust gathered in this room come from the three Parisian homes that the writer successively occupied after the death of his mother. According to her governess, Céleste Albaret, the majority of the furniture presented on the platform in this room comes from her last bedroom, rue de l’Amiral-Hamelin; single bed, screen, bedside table, bedside table, armchair, chaise longue… Asthmatic, Marcel Proust leaves his room less and less. Sleeping during the day and working at night, the writer composed most of In Search of Lost Time in this simple brass bed.
Protected from noise by cork plates placed on the ceiling and walls, one of which is displayed in the window, and from pollen by caulked windows in spring and autumn, Proust devoted the last fifteen years of his life to creating a major literary work, begun in 1908. His personal items are on display in the two display cases: a fur coat, toilet and writing accessories and a cane. Finally, two digital devices complete this space: a projection of photographs of the author’s relatives by Paul Nadar and a listening bench broadcasting extracts from À la recherche du temps perdu and pieces by Reynaldo Hahn.
Paris, From 1910 to 1977
At the start of the 20th century, Paris experienced major restructuring. To explain it, a set of old models of the old districts of Paris is presented at the beginning of the section. Some of these neighborhoods correspond to so-called unhealthy housing blocks, very dense and destined for demolition. A focus is devoted to the “Zone” of the old city wall where painters, engravers and photographers report on the precariousness of living conditions. Opposite, a wall is devoted to the First World War. In a window, the daily life of Parisians is developed by photographs and many personal objects such as food cards or children’s drawings.
During the inter-war period, the districts of Montmartre, Pigalle, the Champs-Élysées and Montparnasse built their legend. Paris, international capital of the arts, avant-gardes, freedom of morals and literature, is evoked in particular by a series of portraits of important figures such as Elisabeth de Gramont, Natalie Clifford Barney, Gertrude Stein… The table of work of the latter occupies the center of the room. The Second World War is told through the role played by the Carnavalet museum because its director at the time was a resistance fighter.
The rest of the course focuses on urban planning operations with built (or planned) road infrastructures, launched in the 1960s and 1970s. They reconfigured the capital and the tourist myth of Paris then found a unique boost through songs, films and popular novels. With the presentation of several posters and photographs, the worker and student revolts leading to mass demonstrations in 1961-1962 and then in 1968 are discussed. Finally this section ends with the restoration of the election of a mayor, at the head of the capital.
Paris, From 1977 to the Present Day
In this last section of the course, several themes are developed: the climate and the environment (with the hammer of COP 21 and a reduction of the Globe Earth Crisis – COP21 by Shepard Fairey dit Obey), architectural and urban evolution, transformations of the Place de la République and housing in priority neighborhoods.
A selection of witness objects and photographs reflects the great collective emotions aroused by the 2015 attacks, the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral in 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic that appeared in 2020.
Photographs by artists Thierry Cohen, Madeleine Vionnet, Patrick Tournebœuf and Laurence Jay are offered here. The tour ends with the screening of a short film, Periphery, by Manon Ott (2020).
Off Course: The Wendel Ballroom
Installed in the museum since 1989, this spectacular ballroom from the Sourdeval-Demachy hotel was commissioned in 1925 by the great Lorraine steelmaker Maurice de Wendel from the painter José-Maria Sert. Its restoration revealed the very particular technique used by the painter. He applied up to three successive layers of glaze worked with a rag and enhanced with metallic powder on a thin sheet of electrum (an alloy of silver and gold), giving his work luminosity and transparency.