Guide Tour of the Jacquemart-André Museum, Paris, France

The Musée Jacquemart-André is a private museum located at 158 Boulevard Haussmann in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The museum was created from the private home of Édouard André (1833–1894) and Nélie Jacquemart (1841–1912) to display the art they collected during their lives. Owned by the Institut de France, it has been managed by Culturespaces since 1996.

The Jacquemart-André Museum is a museum in a former private palace in Paris. The Jacquemart André Museum offers visitors the chance to head back in time to one of Paris’ golden ages, and often compared to the Frick Collection in New York, it has maintained its mansion atmosphere, which makes it unique in Paris.

Discover extraordinary art master works inside of one of the finest bourgeoise museums of the 19 th century. Inaugurated in 1876, this museum lets visitors discover 19th century living areas: ceremonial rooms, monumental stairways, winter garden, private apartments and more. Apart from marveling at the beautiful mansion, you’ll find a fine collection of art by folks like Botticelli and Rembrandt, as well as a tempting salon de thé that’s just perfect for a brunch or a delicious dessert.

The Musée Jacquemart André is the former home of one wealthy couple, Édouard André and Nélie Jacquemart. Child of a wealthy family of Protestant bankers, Edouard André was a close political man of Napoleon III. The couple moved to this mansion in 1870, back when this area of grand boulevards was created by Baron Haussmann. Haussmann completely transformed the way Paris looks and among other things, cleared out many small alleys to make way for those famous tree-lined boulevards that criss-cross Paris.

Jacquemart & André had an immense passion for arts, especially Italian art. Over the years, they traveled the world and collected art of all kinds to decorate their lavish mansion. The collectors travelled across Europe and the East to acquire rare works of art and furniture. The collections are some of the most remarkable in France: works from Flemish and German schools, detached frescoes, refined furniture and tapestries also find their place on the ground floor of the house. Nélie Jacquemart devoted most of her attention to the Renaissance period in Florence and Venice. In fact, the first floor is devoted to Italian art during this period.

Its collection is brought together by a private collector; Édouard André in 1875. The Musée Jacquemart-André, owned by the Institut de France, presents collections of art that are worthy of great museums in a magnificent Second Empire mansion. The Musee Jacquemart-André now mainly has exhibits from the time of the Italian Renaissance, masterpieces of the French School of the 18th century and the Flemish masters.

The museum features works by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, Bellini, Francesco Botticini, Luca Signorelli, Cima da Conegliano, Pietro Perugino, Neri di Bicci, Vittore Crivelli, Luca della Robbia, Paolo Uccello, Canaletto, Jean-Marc Nattier, Alfred Boucher, Quentin Massys, Rembrandt, Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Jacques-Louis David, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Thomas Lawrence, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Sandro Botticelli, Andrea Mantegna, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin.

Édouard André, the scion of a Protestant banking family, devoted his considerable fortune to buying works of art. At the beginning of the 19th century, Dominique André, Edouard’s grandfather, settled in Paris and went into partnership with François Cottier, who assisted him in the business of the André bank. The two men saw fit to strengthen their ties by the marriage of their children: Ernest André and Louise Mathilde Cottier. Edouard is the only child born of this union.

At the age of 18, he entered Saint-Cyr, from which he left as an officer in one of the elite regimes in the personal service of Napoleon III. But more inclined to the pomp of the Tuileries court, he preferred to resign. In 1864, he took over the seat of deputy from his father and decided to lead a very Parisian life.

In 1860, Edouard André began his collection with small pieces of goldsmithery, jewelry, ceramics, miniatures and tapestries. He also acquired paintings by artists of his time such as Delacroix, Orientalist painters and landscape painters from the Barbizon school. He then exhibited them in his new mansion built in 1869 by the architect Henri Parent, and completed in 1875.

He married with a well-known society painter, Nélie Jacquemart, who had painted his portrait 10 years earlier. Every year, the couple would travel in Italy, amassing one of the finest collections of Italian art in France. When Edouard André died, Nélie Jacquemart completed the decoration of the Italian Museum and travelled in the Orient to add more precious works to the collection. Faithful to the plan agreed with her husband, she bequeathed the mansion and its collections to the Institut de France as a museum, and it opened to the public in 1913.

As early as 1860, Napoleon III entrusted the prefect Haussmann with the creation of a vast urban plan which profoundly changed the appearance of Paris: districts were destroyed and straight axes were drawn from the outskirts towards the centre. On the newly drawn Boulevard Haussmann, Edouard André buys land to build a hotel. The construction was entrusted to Henri Parent. The latter, excluded from the construction of the new Opera in favor of his colleague Charles Garnier, will surpass himself in the design of this hotel.

From 1869 to 1876, Henri Parent built a vast and beautiful construction very inspired by classical models by its perfectly symmetrical plan and by the decoration of its facades. The construction is set back from the alignment of the facades of the Haussmann boulevard, thus creating a break that attracts attention. In 1876, the inauguration of the hotel was an event: guests discovered the staircase’s double-revolution banister, its improbable balance and the sumptuousness of the materials that make it up. They salute this monument as they saluted the foyer of the Opera that Charles Garnier has just built.

The Museum
Nélie died on May 15, 1912. The mansion then became the property of the Institut de France. The Institut de France entrusts Culturespaces with the task of promoting and bringing to life the heritage of the Museum, which reopens its doors the same year. The society organizes two large temporary exhibitions every year.

The Large Halls
The State Rooms were designed by the Andrés for their most formal receptions. They reflect their fascination for the French school of painting and 18th-century decorative art.

The Painting Room
The painting room is an antechamber, a circulation room which precedes the large living room. Lit from the outside by three bay windows, it gradually introduces the visitor to the interior of the large apartments. We follow from one panel to another the hanging which, according to the will of Édouard André and his wife, alternates decorative works, above doors, mythological compositions, still lifes, landscapes and portraits.

Boucher, Chardin, Canaletto, Nattier are the prestigious artists who have been brought together in the painting room. They welcome the visitor here, as they already welcomed, more than 100 years ago, the guests of Mr. and Mrs. André, making this first living room an extraordinary gallery of paintings. Édouard André and Nélie Jacquemart had a passion for 18th century painting that the upper middle class was rediscovering after having long deemed it too frivolous.

The Large Living Room
After waiting in the painting room, the guests discovered this large living room, a reception room par excellence. This is where Édouard André welcomed his guests. During very important receptions, he could make the side partitions disappear by means of hydraulic cylinders to bring together the painting room, the large room and the adjacent music room in a single space. Édouard André and Nélie Jacquemart were able to receive a thousand guests there during sumptuous parties attended by all of Paris at the time.

This living room is distinguished from the other rooms by its semi-circular plan which recalls the preference of the 18th century for the curve to the detriment of the straight line. Its decoration mixes elements of the 18th century with elements made when the hotel was built. Thus is composed a very harmonious whole, typical of the decorative art which is set up at this time and makes furniture, old objects and style copies coexist: this is what is called eclecticism.

No paintings here but a fine collection of 18th century marble busts creating a sculpture gallery. The features of illustrious characters are recognizable there: politicians but also famous artists sculpted by talented sculptors: Coysevox, Lemoyne, Houdon and Michel-Ange Slodtz.

The Music Room
The music room is the other large reception room. This living room is typical of the Second Empire with its walls covered in red and its dark wood furniture. The paintings that adorn the room have changed often, depending on the growth of the collection. They bring us back to the French 18th century with works by Hubert Robert, Fragonard and portraits by Perronneau.

The painting on the ceiling is signed by one of the most sought-after decorative painters of the time, Pierre-Victor Galland. He represented an Apollo protector of the arts. Thus, the god of Arts and Music presides over the destinies of this house.

The Dining Room
The importance of this room in the daily life of the private mansion can be measured by the scale of its dimensions and the quality of its decor. Around the perimeter, a series of Louis XV consoles in carved and gilded wood serve as sideboards, while the bust of Madame sits enthroned on the mantelpiece. Above, five tapestries from the Achilles tapestry, woven in Brussels in the 18th century, recount the adventures of the hero of the Trojan War. The freshness of their colors is remarkable.

The most surprising element is the fresco installed on the ceiling: the work of Giambattista Tiepolo, it comes, like that of the staircase, from the Villa Contarini in Mira. Despite its subject, Fame announcing in the air the visit of Henry III, the trompe-l’oeil effects, the figures leaning on their elbows, the monkey whose tail hangs over the arch, give it an air of comedy. The painter himself seems to have imagined himself and leans over the balustrade to greet the visitor.

Private Lounges
The informal Apartments was where the Andrés would receive their business relations in a series of smaller, more informal salons. These were decorated in a refined style.

The Tapestry Room
This room, called tapestries, introduces you to a series of more intimate rooms that Edouard André and his wife assigned to their private life and their business. This living room is the antechamber preceding their study. It offers the particularity of having been adapted to the dimensions of the hangings which decorate it, which Edouard André already had before the construction of the hotel.

The three tapestries were part of a set called the “Russian Games”, woven at the Beauvais factory from the cartoons of Jean-Baptiste Le Prince, a pupil of Boucher. They represent “The Dance”, “The Musician” and “The Fortune Teller”.

The parquet floor is covered with a Savonnerie rug on which stands an easel displaying the only painted ornament in the salon, a gouache by the Venetian Guardi. As for the furniture, it bears prestigious stamps: Othon, Joseph, Riesener.

The Office
It was in this room that Edouard André and then Nélie Jacquemart organized their daily life and received their business relations. Curiously, this living room is not laid out in the austere manner of a ministerial cabinet, but on the contrary presents an intimate decor made up of the objects they preferred. On the wall is a series of paintings by the great French masters of the 18th century: Fragonard, Lagrénée, Coypel, Pater, Greuze. A fresco by Tiepolo from a Venetian palace decorates the ceiling.

To furnish it, the Andrés brought together equally prestigious pieces of furniture: Chevenat-stamped armchairs covered with Aubusson tapestries, secretary desk in Japanese lacquer decorated with gilt bronze attributed to BVRB, Louis XV chest of drawers in rosewood with marquetry in violet attributed to cabinetmaker Joseph Baumhauer, Louis XV desk stamped by Jacques Dubois, the king’s favorite cabinetmaker.

This boudoir, like the next room, was first intended to house Nélie Jacquemart’s private apartment: in this room, her bathroom and in the next her bedroom. But a few years later, Nélie wanted to get closer to her husband. She then had a new room installed near hers. This is when this room becomes a boudoir.

The Portrait of Countess Skavronskaïa painted by Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun recalls the taste of the royal court and the one who was the privileged interpreter of Marie-Antoinette, while the French Count of Nantes painted by David evokes the rigor of imperial etiquette. Tiepolo’s ceiling depicts Allegories of Justice and Peace. Louis XVI style furniture in gilded wood and master paintings form a coherent neo-classical ensemble.

The Library
Nélie Jacquemart’s bedroom, now a library, is the most remote room in the hotel. The two spouses met there to consult the sales catalogs and decide on their future purchases.

The furniture in the room is in the Louis XIV style and period, of which the Cabinet Fontanges, offered by the king to Mademoiselle de Fontanges is the most astonishing jewel. On the walls, you will discover a series of Flemish and Dutch paintings from the 17th century. As early as 1865, Edouard had acquired the Portrait of Doctor Tholinx by Rembrandt. Later was added the famous little scene of the Pilgrims at Emmaus, also painted by Rembrandt. Around this infinitely precious painting, portraits and landscapes bring together the prestigious names of Van Dyck, Frans Hals, Philippe de Champaigne, Ruysdaël.

The Smoking Room
The smoking room is a room designed for after-dinner conversations between men in front of the fireplace. While Nélie took refuge in a small living room to tell her friends about her latest discoveries in Italy, Edouard led the men here to talk about business or travel and to smoke in front of a good fire burning in the fireplace.

Made fashionable by the Second Empire, smoking rooms were generally furnished in an oriental style. This one is part of this tradition by bringing together objects brought back from distant travels. Edouard André had the faux Cordoba leather walls stretched with papier-mâché and decorated the ceiling with a painting representing The Dispute between Minerva and Neptune on the founding of Athens by a disciple of Tintoretto. The fireplace was brought from Venice. The English portraits that decorate the room today were purchased by Nélie during a long stay in England.

The Winter Garden and The Staircase
The Winter Garden was created by architect Henri Parent, who was seeking to surpass Charles Garnier, the builder of the then new Opéra Garnier.

The Winter Garden
The winter garden is characteristic of the art of hospitality which developed under the reign of Napoleon III. Coming from Great Britain, this innovation is a great success. It consists in arranging, under the cover of a glass roof, plants in pots, most often exotic. This green space allows guests to come and rest for a moment in a more refreshing setting than the stuffy neighboring lounges. This marble-paved vestibule, with walls covered in mirrors, gives access to the very astonishing double spiral staircase. The sculptures that decorate it make it a gallery of antiques. But the plants that adorn it remind us that this room was first a winter garden, flooded by the light diffused by the glass roof.

At the time of the hotel’s inauguration, it was the room that most struck contemporaries. The magazine L’Illustration reported on it in 1876: ” The marvel of this marvelous palace was undoubtedly the winter garden Our great ladies had taken refuge there to avoid the crowds. Such sumptuousness could not be permitted only to a sovereign or a banker”.

The Staircase
The architectural feat of this house is its monumental staircase, curiously rejected at the end of the apartments, whereas one would traditionally expect it in the center of the construction. Designed by Henri Parent, this staircase is a magical construction, surprisingly light despite the density of the materials that compose it: marble, stone, iron, bronze. It rises to a rounded cornice which extends its curves. The play of mirrors reflects it on all the walls and brings the illusion to its height.

Tiepolo’s Fresco
To complete the decoration of this main staircase, the Jacquemart-André couple placed this very large fresco painted by Giambattista Tiepolo for the Villa Contarini in Veneto where they discovered it and bought it in 1893. It represents Henry III returning from Poland to succeed his brother Charles IX on the throne of France. He passes through Venice where he is received by the Doge Contarini.

A ceiling painted by the same artist representing “Fame announcing the arrival of King III” completed the decor of the Venetian villa. This ceiling was reassembled in the dining room of the hotel, today the tea room. Happy times when one could, the same year, buy such a set of Tiepolo to which were added the two ceilings of the Cabinet de travail and the Boudoir.

The Italian Museum
The Italian museum is the Sculpture Gallery houses collections of 15th- and 16th-century Italian sculpture, with masterpieces by Francesco Laurana, Donatello, Luca Della Robbia and others. The Florentine Gallery is both a place of worship, containing works on religious themes – choir stalls, reredos and funerary monuments – and a picture gallery focusing on the Florentine school, with works by Botticelli, Francesco Botticini and Perugino, and Ucello’s celebrated St George and the Dragon. The Venetian Gallery attests to the Andrés’ love of 15th-century Venetian artists. Dominated by a coffer ceiling attributed to Mocetto, paintings by Mantegna, Bellini or Carpaccio recreate the typical setting of a Venetian Palazzo.

The Sculpture Room
The part housing the “Italian Museum” was originally empty. Over the years, Nélie and Edouard André had the idea of setting up their Italian collections there. It was a bit like their secret garden. As much on the reception floor, all their guests could admire their collections, as much, visits to the Italian museum were limited to a few friends or amateurs who requested them.

After his marriage, Edouard André had this room converted into a workshop for his wife. We pierce on this occasion, the large bay window. But Nélie definitely abandons her brushes and the room remains empty. Soon, she takes her husband to Italy and their common passion for the art of the Italian Renaissance will push them each year to make one or more trips to this country. For years they accumulated their treasures and it was only after Edouard’s death that Nélie set up this room of sculptures. Its hanging, very personal, is restored here in accordance with the old descriptions.

The Florentine Room
Nélie had often expressed her desire to favor Florence over the rest of Italy. She therefore imagined a mausoleum in the form of a private chapel, bringing together what she possessed most preciously: presented both as a place of worship where works of religious inspiration meet (church stalls, altarpiece and funerary monument), this room is at the same time a gallery of paintings which favors the Florentine school.

Variations on a theme, a series of Virgins and Child from the same workshop, offer their similarities and their particularities: the pupil, Sandro Botticelli, creates a masterpiece of youth while his master, Le Pérugin, performs a masterful work, miraculously preserved. These panels would be enough to make this piece one of the most valuable in the museum. It also contains another major work with Saint George slaying the dragon by Paolo Uccello.

The Venetian Room
This last room of the Italian museum is perhaps the one that owes most to the personal taste of Edouard André. Arranged during his lifetime, it brings together works from Venice and schools from northern Italy. The art of Venice had, in fact, its preference. At the time, few collectors made this choice. Fashion is indeed Florentine.

There are works by Bellini, Mantegna, Crivelli, Schiavone and Vittore Carpaccio. The coffered ceiling paintings are painted in grisaille and mix religious and secular subjects.

Private Apartments
The Andrés’ private apartments occupy part of the mansion’s ground floor.

Madame’s Room
The private apartments consist of three rooms on the ground floor. In her bedroom, Nélie Jacquemart has chosen to return to the atmosphere of the reign of Louis XV. Around a large bed, she installs panels of old woodwork and places some of her finest furniture. The walls are hung with Lyon silks and decorated with two pastels, including the exceptional Portrait of a Man by Maurice Quentin de la Tour. She had a small veranda lounge built on the terrace, which she had used as her office.

The Antechamber
Located between the two bedrooms, the antechamber was the couple’s preferred intimate meeting place. Every morning they ate their breakfast, surrounded by family portraits. Among these, is prominently the one that Nélie made of Edouard in 1872 and which was the occasion of their first meeting. The memory of Edouard André is marked there. Personal items such as his father’s wallet and the Assembly’s trombinoscope from the time he was a deputy, recall his presence.

Mr’s Room
Edouard André’s bedroom and adjoining bathroom, redone after his death, therefore rather suggest a woman’s interior. A transition chest of drawers, attributed to BVRB, is presented there with its plaster bust by Carpeaux. Despite the resemblance to the emperor, it is indeed Edouard André, the ultimate testimony to Nélie’s admiration and fidelity for her husband.