The Massena Museum is a city municipal museum Nice installed in one of the last houses of prestige of the xix th century the Promenade des Anglais. The Masséna museum, architectural jewel of the Promenade des Anglais, evokes, through its collections, the art and history of the riviera from the joining of Nice to France until the end of the Belle Epoque. All the works evoke this theme through a scenography that combines graphic arts, furniture and objects from this period and more particularly history.
Among other things on display are Napoleon’s death mask made by Doctor Arnolt, Joséphine’s tiara in mother-of-pearl, gold, pearls and colored stones offered by Murat to the Empress and the book written by Prefect Liegeard. The visitor will be able to meet the landscape painters of the 19th century and more particularly Joseph Fricero, Antoine Trachel or Alexis Mossa…
It should be noted that the ground floor of the Villa is in itself a work of art thanks to its sumptuous interior decoration created by the architects Hans-Georg Tersling and Aaron Messiah, and the furniture and art objects of the 1st Empire which adorn the salons.
The reception of the public takes place, to the north of the building, by a pavilion located at number 65 rue de France.
The Villa Masséna was built on the Promenade des Anglais between 1898 and 1901 by the Danish architect Hans-Georg Tersling (1857-1920), one of the best architects of the Côte d’Azur during the Belle Epoque. The style chosen is neoclassical with a strong Italianate imprint.
Prince Victor d’Essling (1836-1910) grandson of the Niçois André Masséna, made it his winter residence. His son, André, heir to the estate when his father died, donated it to the City of Nice in 1919, and the Masséna museum was inaugurated in 1921.
Marshal André Masséna
André Masséna was born in Nice on May 6, 1758. Son of a wine merchant, he enlisted in 1775 in a French regiment of which his uncle was a recruiting sergeant. In 1789, he married Rosalie Lamarre, daughter of a surgeon from Antibes. He became captain instructor of the National Guard of Antibes, then lieutenant colonel of the 2nd battalion of national volunteers of the Var and, as such, participated in the invasion of the County of Nice in 1792.
The following year, he was general of brigade then of division. Knowing the region well, he played a decisive role in the conquest of the high country of Nice, in particular in Haute-Roya. Deputy of Bonaparte, his role was essential in the Army of Italy and he particularly stood out in the battles of Lodi, Rivoli and La Favorite (1796). Commander of the Army of Helvetia, the Danube and the Rhine (1799), he won the victory at Zurich. Then charged by Bonaparte to command the Army of Italy, he must capitulate in Genoa, but under the best possible conditions. In 1804, Napoleon raised to the rank of marshal what he called “the darling of victory”.
1809 marks the peak of his military career. He plays a decisive role in Essling and Wagram. Appointed commander of the military division of Marseille and commander of the National Guard of Paris, after Waterloo, he was relieved of his command when the king returned. He died on April 4, 1817 in Paris. If Masséna will return only twice to Nice, after the end of the Italian campaigns, his solicitude will always be manifested towards his native town, of which he will be the official protector with the administration. When the marshal was titled Prince of Essling in 1810, the municipal council of the city of Nice decided to commission his portrait, painted the following year by Louis Hersent (1777-1860), which was exhibited in the large gallery.
Revolution and Empire
During the first events of the French Revolution, many French emigrants found refuge in Nice, because the city was part of the States of the King of Sardinia. The Var, border with France, was crossed on September 28, 1792 by the revolutionary troops who took the city the next day without resistance, because it lost its military role with the destruction of the castle and the ramparts on the orders of Louis XIV in 1706. On January 31, 1793, the Convention proclaimed the meeting to France.
On February 4, 1793, the Alpes-Maritimes department was created with Nice as the capital. Bonaparte made three trips to Nice. He organized the Army of Italy there. After the revolutionary period, very harmful for the local economy, the prefect Gratet du Bouchage (1746-1829), appointed by Napoleon, contributed to the development of the department. The absence of British tourists, who have come to stay in winter since the middle of the 18th century, is a cause of impoverishment.
For strategic reasons, the Grande Corniche is opened, the first motorable road along the sea towards Italy. Empress Joséphine (1763-1814) successfully contributes to the acclimatization of exotic plants. Pauline Borghèse (1780-1825), sister of Napoleon, stayed twice in Nice. The Treaty of Paris of May 30, 1814 put an end to the French occupation.
In 1388, Nice and its region – called County of Nice from the 16th century – separated from Provence to belong to the House of Savoy, which also reigned over Piedmont.
In 1720, the Dukes of Savoy became Kings of Sardinia. Victor-Emmanuel 1st (1759-1824) ascended the throne in 1802 but he reigned only in Sardinia because of the occupation of his other territories by the French. He recovered them in 1814 and also obtained the former Republic of Genoa. The institutions of the Ancien Régime such as the Senate were restored. The Church plays a primordial role. The reactionary policy of the king led, in 1821, to a revolt in Turin, quickly put down after the abdication of Victor-Emmanuel 1st. His brother, Charles-Félix (1765-1831), also very Catholic and opposed to Italian unity, succeeded him. He was very popular in Nice, where he stayed for a long time twice with Queen Marie-Christine (1779-1849), in 1826-1827 and 1829-1830. The death of Charles-Félix (1831) marks the end of the elder branch of Savoy. The crown passed to the Savoie-Carignan in the person of Charles-Albert (1798-1849).
After aligning himself with the political ideas of his two predecessors, he rallied to liberalism and promulgated the Statuto (1848) which made the Kingdom of Sardinia a parliamentary monarchy. His commitment to Italian unity led him to go to war against Austria. Beaten in Novare (March 23, 1849), he abdicates. His son, Victor-Emmanuel II (1820-1878) will pursue the same policy and will become the first king of Italy (1861). His commitment to Italian unity led him to go to war against Austria. Beaten in Novare (March 23, 1849), he abdicates. His son, Victor-Emmanuel II (1820-1878) will pursue the same policy and will become the first king of Italy (1861). His commitment to Italian unity led him to go to war against Austria. Beaten in Novare (March 23, 1849), he abdicates. His son, Victor-Emmanuel II (1820-1878) will pursue the same policy and will become the first king of Italy (1861).
From the second empire to the heyday (1860-1914)
Aware of not being able to drive the Austrians out of northern Italy without a powerful ally, Victor-Emmanuel II and his minister Cavour turned to Napoleon III. In return for its military aid, France will receive Savoy and the province of Nice with the agreement of the populations concerned. The city is divided between the partisans of France and those of Italy led by Garibaldi. Economic reasons and the support of the Church explain the rallying of the majority of the Niçois to join France, but the result of the plebiscite in Nice (6,810 yes and 11 no out of 7,918 registered), lessens the importance of the opposition. On June 11, 1860, the annexation was official and the next day, the Alpes-Maritimes department was created by the union of the province of Nice (Nice became the prefecture, Puget-Théniers sub-prefecture) and the district of Grasse seconded from the Var department. Napoleon III and Eugenie came on an official trip in 1860.
Syndic of Nice since 1856, François Malausséna (1814-1882) was the first mayor of the French period, until the fall of the Second Empire in 1870. He succeeded Auguste Raynaud (1871 to 1878), Alfred Borriglione (1878 to 1886), Jules Gilly (1886), Frédéric Alziary de Malaussène (1886 to 1896), Honoré Sauvan (1896 – 1912 then 1919-1922), François Goiran (1912-1919).
From the old town to the seaside resort
At the start of the 19th century, the town of Nice had 25,000 inhabitants, half of whom lived in the city (now Old Nice), the rest being scattered throughout the countryside. If the 19th century was a period of generalized urban development based on industrial and commercial activities, Nice owes its expansion mainly to tourism. During the first half of the 19th century, the city developed near the port, along the right bank of the Paillon, opposite the Old Town and along the Route de France. In order to link this last district to the city, the Pont Neuf was built (1824) and the southern part of Place Masséna was developed, then, from 1845 to 1860, its northern part.
From 1832 to 1860, the action of the “Consiglio d’Ornato” (Ornamental Council), a commission whose approval is essential for any creation of new facades, gave remarkable architectural unity to the new squares and streets. From 1864 – date of the arrival of the railroad – to 1914, the development will be much more considerable. The population goes from 48,000 to nearly 150,000 inhabitants.
The city center is spreading little by little in the plain of Longchamp, on either side of the current avenue Jean Médecin, built between 1860 and 1880. These are middle-class neighborhoods while the more modest population (in particularly the large number of Italian immigrants) settled in the Paillon valley, behind the port. The villas are multiplying on the nearby hills (Carabacel, Mont-Boron, Cimiez, les Baumettes, Fabron). But the greater part of the municipal territory is still the domain of the countryside where farms and “houses of the fields” of the noble families of Nice rub shoulders with the new villas of the wealthy winterers. Simple dirt road due to the initiative of the British community (1822), the Promenade des Anglais was developed by the city from 1844 and quickly replaced the Cours Saleya as the center of social life.
Nice is a maritime city with its port activities and fishing. Sardines and anchovies are the main catches of fishermen who pull their boats and put their nets on the beaches of Ponchettes on the edge of Old Nice, and that of Carras. During the winter, the hills are the domain of the herds descended from the mountainous zone, in particular of the sheep.
The main area of food crops is the Longchamp district, but urban development will transfer this agricultural activity to the Var plain from the middle of the 19th century. The main wealth comes from the olive tree. Water mills produce an oil of highly sought-after quality. But its economic importance will decrease while the floral cultures, on the contrary, will see their production increase considerably thanks to the Vésubie canal (1884) which allows a large-scale irrigation and the improvement of the conditions of transport in all Europe. From 1820, the marquetry produced furniture and quality objects, highly sought after as souvenirs by tourists. We engrave and paint cougourdons (squash).
Each rural district has its feast, called a “festin” and fishermen gather at Les Ponchettes for Saint-Pierre. The population is particularly attached to religious festivals and its traditions. The brotherhoods of Penitents, made up of lay people, remain very alive while they tend to disappear during the XIXth century in the rest of the south of France.
Nice, a branch of the langue d’oc, whose use is widespread, is experiencing a literary renaissance initiated by Joseph Rosalinde Rancher (1785-1843). Initially limited to the County of Nice, immigration became essentially transalpine from the 1870s. Italians are particularly numerous in the building trades.
Places of worldliness
Nice asserts itself as the most important city of the Riviera, this coastal strip which stretches from Hyères to Genoa and which knows, every winter, an influx of tourists whose number will increase tenfold after the arrival of the railway in 1864. Little by little, the term “Côte d’Azur”, the title of a work by Stephen Liégeard published in 1887, will supplant that of Riviera for its French part. Some winter visitors come every year: they are nicknamed the “winter swallows”. Many have a “mounted villa” built in a vast garden where local and exotic essences are mixed. They are characterized by their great variety of styles: neo-classical, Moorish, neo-Gothic.
The first large hotels were built in the 1840s along the Paillon, opposite the old town, on the edge of the public garden. The Grand Hotel (1867) is the first to reflect the luxury of those in London and Paris. From the 1860s, the main hotels were built along the seaside and, at the end of the 19th century, the hills, in particular that of Cimiez, saw immense buildings rise up – Hôtel Régina, Hôtel Impérial – with facades facing the sea.
Shortly before the First World War, prestigious palaces – the Ruhl, the Négresco – offered modern comfort (one bathroom per room, central heating) and punctuated the Promenade des Anglais with their corner domes. The promenade is the great occupation of winter visitors. Around 1860, the Promenade des Anglais replaced the terraces on the edge of Old Nice. With the automobile, we set off to discover the high country of Nice.
Nice, the world’s fair
From the middle of the 18th century, many Britons came to winter in Nice. From 1792 to 1814, the attachment to revolutionary and Napoleonic France will temporarily remove them from the French Riviera, but they will return when the King of Sardinia returns in 1814. They will be numerous enough, around 1830, to call the district around the Anglican Church “the Newborough” or “Little London”. If their percentage is decreasing, they will always remain, by far, the most numerous foreigners and the stays of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) in Cimiez will give an unequaled luster to the fame of the city of Nice in Europe.
From the 1840s, many Russians took the road to Nice, especially after the stay of the Tsarines and Tsarewitch Nicolas (1844-1865). But, it is soon all the peoples who make the city of Nice the Salon du Monde, from November to May. Thus, the American upper middle class is sufficiently important to build an Episcopalian church in 1887 (current Reformed temple). The Lutheran Church receives Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Orthodox church on rue Longchamp proved too small for the influx of Russians and a cathedral had to be built (1912) considered to be one of the most important outside Russia. Foreign and Nice aristocracies frequent the same salons and meet within the Festival Committee.
Parties and entertainment
The winter season is an uninterrupted series of receptions, concerts and parties in the large private villas. Many theaters exist in the city. Circles attract a chosen clientele because one must be sponsored to be part of them unlike casinos. The first casino was opened in 1867 on the Promenade des Anglais but it only experienced a fleeting existence, replaced by the Cercle de la Méditerranée. The Municipal Casino (1884) and the Casino de la Jetée (1891) will experience lasting success, the latter even becoming the most emblematic building of the Belle Epoque in Nice. January and February mark the peak of the winter season with the races and the Carnival. If it is mentioned in Nice from the 13th century, it is from 1873, corresponding to the creation of the Festival Committee, that it takes its current form with a parade of burlesque cardboard floats, masked balls and costumed (Veglione, Redoute) and flower battles (1876) where the elegant women adorn their cars with floral motifs.
Regattas, and from the beginning of the 20th century, car races and aviation meetings also attract a large audience. Individual sports are also developing (tennis, skating, golf, etc.) mainly at the initiative of the English and the people of Nice are starting to develop a passion for team sports such as football. The practice of skiing appears in the high country more and more visited thanks to the increase in the number of cars.
In 1898, Victor Masséna, Prince of Essling and Duke of Rivoli, grandson of the Nice Marshal André Masséna, decided to build a large pleasure villa on the Nice seaside. The Masséna, who appreciate the Rothschild villa in Cannes, offer it as a model to the architects Hans-Georg Tersling and Aaron Messiah. These are also requested to be inspired by the large villas of Italian neo-classical style. They also adopt an Empire style, evident homage to Napoleon I, to which the Masséna family owes its titles. The villa is designed for brilliant receptions. Its gardens, designed by the landscape designer and botanist Édouard André (1840-1911), as well as the main courtyard to the north were restored between 2006 and 2007. The facades and roofs of the villa have been listed as historical monuments since 1975.
The great gallery
The large blind gallery, with decoration inspired by the end of the 18th century, fits into the rectangular plan of the villa, and gives access to the reception rooms. The ceremonial salons, portrait salon, large salon and smoking room, follow one another in a row, at noon. The dining room and its veranda, to the east, mirror the Prince d’Essling’s office to the west. The large gallery is decorated with a painted frieze, influenced by Greco-Latin Antiquity. It is the work of Alexandre-Evariste Fragonard (1780-1850), son of Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), both born in Grasse.
It comes from the Château de la Faulotte, near Paris, for which it was designed at the beginning of the 19th century.The full-length statue of Napoleon is a copy of that inaugurated in 1805 at the headquarters of the Legislative Body. Represented as Roman emperor, Napoleon holds the Civil Code. The sculptor of the original, Antoine-Denis CHAUDET (1763-1810) is also the author of another effigy of Napoleon which, under the 1st Empire, crowned the Austerlitz column on Place Vendôme. This statue welcomes the visitor since the construction of the villa. It is framed by gilded bronze torches by Pierre-Philippe THOMIRE (1751-1843), considered the best French bronzier from the reign of Louis XVI to that of Louis XVIII.
The two large paintings evoke the divergent sympathies of the inhabitants of Nice divided between revolutionary ideas and attachment to the House of Savoy and Catholicism. Ignace THAON-DE-REVEL (1760-1835), who played a leading political role under the Restoration, actively participated under the command of his father, Charles-François (1725-1807), in the defense of the County of Nice, during the French invasion. The painting is due to Frédéric CHIARLE, grandfather of the builder of the villa, Marshal MASSENA, favorable to the Revolution, is here represented in ceremonial dress of the First Empire. It is an order of the Municipal Council of Nice (1809), executed by Louis HERSENT (1777-1860) in 1814.
It was fitted out in 1937 in the neo-empire style of the Villa Masséna to house the library of the knight Victor de Cessole who had just donated it to the city of Nice. This family library was built over several generations by the Spitalieri de Cessole, an old family from Nice related to the Ripert de Montclar, the Villeneuve-Vence and the Sévigné.
Among the bibliophilic works preserved, there are seven incunabula, many French and Italian classics of the 17th and 18th centuries, most of the rare editions of the letters of the Marquise de Sévigné, the majority of the works of the printers and publishers of Nice. There are also many ancient and precious geographical maps, local newspapers, regional prints and a rich photographic collection including mountain shots by Victor de Cessole (1859-1941).
The decorations from Govone castle
The most remarkable decorative elements of the Villa Masséna come from the castle of Govone, located about fifty kilometers from Turin. Under the Sardinian Restoration, it was owned by Charles-Félix (1765-1831), who reigned over the kingdom of Sardinia (including Nice) from 1821 to 1831. With his wife, Queen Marie-Christine (1779-1849), he renewed the decoration of the castle, calling on the best Piedmontese artists.
In 1898, the municipality of Govone, which had become the owner of the castle, sold interior decorations and furniture to an antique dealer, most of which was bought by the Prince of Essling. These elements are distributed in the dining room, the portrait room, the large living room and the Prince d’Essling’s office. This is the case with most of the woodwork, and in particular, the spectacular doors by Francesco TANADEI, surmounted by piers by Carlo PAGANI, representing the geniuses of the Arts, military trophies and mythological scenes.
The dining room
The dining room, with its compartmentalized ceiling, the layout of which was designed to meet the mundane lifestyle of the owner of the premises, Victor Masséna, is extended by a large semi-circular veranda. It thus offers a clear view and direct access to the gardens via the terraces.
The walls are decorated with plasterwork panels decorated with nereids and braziers resting on dolphins, made at the end of the 19th century. The piers come from the king’s bedroom in Govone. The Empire-style pink marble consoles have sphinx-shaped feet. Also adorning the room are a pair of planters attributed to Giovanni Socci, Florentine works intended for Elisa Bacciochi (1777-1820), sister of Napoleon and Grand Duchess of Tuscany. A similar piece of furniture is kept at the Pitti Palace in Florence. The Empire period clock, which adorns the fireplace, comes from a Parisian workshop, and represents Bacchus with, in bas-relief, a bacchanal.
The two Sèvres porcelain vases by Charles-Etienne Leguay (1762-1846) have a decoration inspired by two works by the painter François Boucher (1703-1770) depicting The birth of Venus and Venus crowned with roses by Loves.
The portrait salon
As is customary, the rooms exhibited at midday form a series of lounges. A sliding wall allows them to be separated. Originally, the first lounge served as a music lounge. The painted decoration of the ceiling echoes, with a few details, that of the queen’s bedroom in Govone castle, which was also adorned with the doors and the two piers. Three large full-length portraits give the salon its name. On the north wall, Napoleon I (1769-1821) is in coronation costume. It is one of the many reproductions of the painting by Baron Gérard (1770-1837), the original of which is in the Palace of Versailles (1805).
On the east wall, two canvases represent Napoleon III (1808-1873) and Empress Eugenie (1826-1920). The originals painted in 1853 by Franz-Xaver WINTERHALTER (1805-1873) have disappeared but many copies were sent to official buildings. Favorite painter of European courts, WINTERHALTER is the author of the famous painting representing Eugenie surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting (1855) in which appears the mother of Prince d’Essling, grand mistress of the house of the empress. At the end of her life, Eugenie would often be received in these salons by the Prince of Essling. On the fireplace, the clock (1806) attributed to Pierre CARTELLIER represents “love veiling the hours”.
The large living room
Main living room of the villa, this reception room, located in the axis of the entrance and the perspective of the garden, overlooks the rotunda part of the terrace. The vault frescoes are a replica of the one in the Queen’s Audience Hall at Govona Castle (1820) depicting in the central motif Athena driving a chariot, by Luigi Vacca (1778-1854).
The doors, their frames and the piers decorated with the geniuses of sculpture and painting, originally in the queen’s audience room, the two consoles adorned with eagles with the Savoy cross on the chest, come from from Govone Castle.
Four canvases by Paul-Louis-Narcisse Grolleron (1848-1901), commissioned from the artist by the Prince of Essling in 1901, recall the feats of arms of his grandfather, Marshal Masséna:
The battle of Rivoli (January 14, 1797) where Masséna plays an essential role.
The signing of the surrender of Genoa (June 4, 1800) where Masséna gets the garrison to leave the city with arms and baggage.
The battle of Ebelsberg (May 3, 1809) between Regensburg and Vienna, where Masséna commands the French vanguard.
The Battle of Essling (May 21-22, 1809), at the gates of Vienne, where Masséna struggling with the worst difficulties, manages to contain an enemy superior in number.
On the fireplace, a clock, attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) and Jean Guillaume Motte (1746-1810) represents two vestals burning incense in honor of Vesta.
This living room has a square plan with cut sides. The painted woodwork on the angles, with mythological subjects, date from the Directoire period and would come from the Hôtel de Roquelaure in Paris, commissioned by Jean Jacques Régis Cambacérès (1753-1824). The woodwork was completed around the 1900s. In the center of the room is a pedestal table decorated with gilt bronze sphinxes (circa 1803), a major work of François-Honoré Jacob (1770-1841), the main cabinetmaker of the 1st Empire. Under Napoleon, it was part of the furniture of the Palais des Tuileries in Paris, before furnishing the castle of Villeneuve-L’Etang, property of the Duchess of Angoulême (1778-1851).
The two armchairs and the two First Empire period chairs stamped Georges I Jacob (1739-1814) were made for Arch-Chancellor Cambacérès, to adorn his hotel in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. A secretary and a 1st Empire console are placed against the walls. The latter supports a vase (circa 1800) attributed to Claude Galle (1759-1815), decorated with a bacchante, satyrs and centauresses. At the back of the room, the two semi-circular planters also date from the 1st Empire, like the clock on the fireplace, signed Lefèvre and Debelle (Paris), which represents Diana the huntress.
Prince d’Essling’s office
The Prince d’Essling’s office, whose layout reflects Victor Masséna’s taste for interior design at the start of the 19th century, includes a door and piers from Govone castle. The pair of armchairs, made in Italy, are decorated with rams’ heads. The portraits of the Prince and Princess of Essling (1902) are by François Flameng (1856-1923), also author of the two large mounted paintings adorning the main staircase. François Flameng, a pupil of Cabanel and Laurens, produced numerous history paintings and social portraits which brought him notoriety. He participated in the wall decoration of the Sorbonne, the Palais de Justice and the Opéra comique in Paris.
The bronze bust of Napoleon is a replica of that of Antoine-Denis Chaudet (1807). The two Sèvres porcelain vases, from the first half of the 19th century, present a cabaret scene and a bucolic landscape with a castle. The clock by Pierre Cartellier (1757-1831) bears the inscription: “The hour of love is very close to ringing”.
The main staircase
On either side of the monumental staircase, two large mounted canvases represent the Masséna family.
On the one on the left, the marshal is represented as a statue between two columns. The characters represented are, from left to right:
Napoleon Ney, Prince of Moskowa (1870-1928).
Claude Ney, Duke of Elchingen (1873-1933).
The Princess of Essling, born Anne Debelle (1802-1887), mother of Prince Victor, builder of the villa.
His father, Victor, Prince of Essling (1799-1863).
Victor, Duke of Rivoli, then Prince of Essling (1836-1910), the builder of the villa.
His eldest daughter, Anne (1884-1967) who will marry Louis Suchet, Duke of Albufera.
Paul Murat (1883-1964).
Marguerite Murat (1893-1964).
Princess Joachim Murat, née Cécile Ney d’Elchingen (1867-1960).
Rose Ney d’Elchingen (1863-1938), future Duchess of Camastra.
Charles Murat (1892-1973).
Eugène Murat (1875-1906).
Mrs d’Attainville (? -?).
The Princess of Moskowa, born Princess Eugenie Bonaparte (1872-1949).
On the right canvas are represented, from left to right:
Prince Joachim Murat (1856-1932).
Alexandre Murat (1889-1924).
Countess Reille, née Anne Masséna (1824-1902).
Princess Eugenie Murat, born Violette Ney d’Elchingen (1878-1936).
Victoire Masséna (1888-1918), future Marquise de Montesquiou, daughter of Victor Masséna.
André Masséna, prince of Essling (1829-1898), elder brother of prince Victor,
André Masséna, son of Prince Victor and future Prince of Essling (1891-1974).
His mother Paule, Princess of Essling, née Furtado-Heine (1847-1903)
Louis Murat (1896-1916).
Jérôme Murat (1898-?).
Pierre Murat (1900-1948).
Joachim Murat, future Prince Murat (1885-1938).
The Duchess Germaine d’Elchingen, née Roussel (1873-1930), sister of the writer Raymond Roussel (1877-1933).
In 1919, Victor Masséna’s son, André Masséna, ceded the property to the city of Nice on condition that a museum was built there and that the garden was open to the public. The Massena museum was inaugurated in 1921. For decades, the Villa Massena is a museum dedicated to local history until the dawn of the xxi th century where places a heavy renovation project. After several years of restoration, it reopens 1 st March 2008. Outside, redevelopment work has restored the garden to its original plan drawn by landscape designer Édouard André. At night, like its neighbor the Negresco, powerful lighting highlights its historic facades.
Inside, the lounges regain their splendor and warmth of yesteryear as with all woodwork early years of the xix th century from the castle of Govone near Turin. The furniture mainly in Empire style decorates its living rooms. The new layout, designed by the Nice architect Philippe Mialon, offers a permanent exhibition area of 1,800 m 2. The first and second floors present a chronological and thematic approach to the history of Nice from 1792 to 1939. The third and last floor accommodates the library of Cessole, rich in thousands of documents, bearing in particular on the history of the County of Nice, Provence, Savoy and Northern Italy 6. The museum is fully accessible to people with reduced mobility.
Paying the 20th century, access to all municipal museums of the city of Nice was free between1 st July 2008 and the 1st January 2015, date when the town hall deploys a new pricing policy.
A vast renovation campaign, carried out by the city of Nice between 1999 and 2008, made it possible to restore the Belle-Epoque villa, its interior decorations, and to enhance its historical and artistic collections.
The museum benefits from a historical garden laid out according to the design of a revolutionary landscape architect at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, namely Édouard André overlooking the Promenade des Anglais and adjoining the famous Negresco hotel.
From 2013 to 2019, as part of the cultural seasons programmed by the City of Nice, four exhibitions are presented under the curatorship of Jean-Jacques Aillagon. Surrounded by historians Guillaume Picon and Aymeric Jeudy, Jean-Jacques Aillagon explores the several millennia of Nice’s history in exhibitions where masterpieces from all eras meet.
Collections of Doctor Alain Frère
Discover the fabulous history of the circus, from its birth to the 18th century, thanks to works from the private collection of Doctor Alain Frère.
These are 123 years of the incredible alliance between cinema, the 7th art, the art of modern times par excellence, and Nice which are thus celebrated through the exhibition “Nice, Cinémapolis” presented at the Villa Masséna.
History in bricks at the Masséna museum from October 19, 2018 to March 5, 2019An exhibition designed with bricks from the LEGO® firm, the world’s leading group in the construction toy market and visible in 140 countries.
Beate and Serge Klarsfeld
Klarsfeld exhibition at the Musée Masséna from 23 November 2018 to 27 January 2019The struggles of memory 1968-1978. Exhibition designed and produced by the Shoah Memorial.
Jazzin’Nice. 70 years of love for Jazz
The exhibition explores this strong link between Nice and jazz which has led American musicians to integrate, thanks to their music, into the cultural life of Nice in the various palaces, cabarets and emerging clubs, from 1917.
Jean Gilletta and the Côte d’Azur, landscapes and reports, 1870-1930
Through five main themes – Nice, capital of the resort – Nissa la Bella – Over mountains and over valleys – Under the azure along the coast – News in pictures – this exhibition shows the richness and evolution of subjects represented, the variety of angles chosen, the serious or humorous tone given to several shots.
The exhibition revolves around 33 portraits, made on charred wood, the surface of which has been scraped and sanded. It is a work of subtraction, because the models themselves have been withdrawn from life. The wood that resurfaces redraws lost glances that challenge us. “Shooting Stars” is not only a project on memory, it is also a warning and a dream: that of restoring, for a moment, to children persecuted by human wickedness, this childhood lost in never and with it, life. “Shooting stars” is a prayer for all child victims of the Shoah, to their memories, their stolen smiles, the lost caresses, without wanting to create a banal pathos that generates a saturation of memory.
Donation Charles Martin-Sauvaigo
This exhibition showed the 17 works of Charles Martin-Sauvaigo offered to the City of Nice by Jean-Pierre Martin, son of the artist.
Nice, the departure of glory
This exhibition was produced with the Fondation Napoléon and presented exceptional works rarely accessible to the public, such as the Civil Code belonging to Napoleon.
Charlotte Salomon Life? or Theater?
This exhibition was produced in collaboration with the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, and offered the discovery of originals, gouaches, drawings, pastels and unpublished archives of Charlotte Salomon.
The Promenade or the invention of a city
This exhibition proposed to make accessible to visitors the reasons which motivated the initiative of the City of Nice to promote the inscription of “Nice Winter Capital and its Promenade des Anglais” on the Unesco World Heritage List.. In this way everyone could better appreciate the exemplary universal value of this “historic urban landscape”.
La Marqueterie niçoise: when nature becomes a work of art
An invitation to discover the history of this art craft, from the 19th century to the present day, To see 149 pieces from private collections as well as works and documents from the Departmental Archives, the library of Cessole, the Theater of Photography and Image, the Museum of Natural History of Nice, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palais Lascaris.
Palm trees, palms and palmettes
Invited by Signac to Saint-Tropez in 1904, Henri Matisse discovered, for the first time, the shores of the Mediterranean. He returned there in 1905 but on the side of Nice where he settled in 1917 under the shade of tall palm trees. Obviously, these trees are one of the recurring themes in Matisse’s paintings. The Musée de Masséna logically puts it in the spotlight in the exhibition Palms, palms and palmettes
Russian presence: Nice and the Côte d’Azur 1860 – 1914
The Russian presence on the Riviera will be evoked by five major themes corresponding to the five rooms of the temporary exhibition space on the second floor of the Villa Masséna.
The Imperial Family: Empress Dowager Alexandra Feodorovna (1798-1860) stayed in Nice in 1855-1857 and 1859-1860. In 1864, his stepdaughter Maria Alexandrovna (1847-1928)), also. She was joined there by the heir to the imperial throne, Tsarevich Nicolas (1843-1865) who died there the following year at the age of 22. His father, Alexander II (1818-1881), bought the Bermond villa and had an expiatory chapel built there on the plans of David Grimm. The Russian cathedral is located nearby. Many other members of the imperial family make Nice their favorite vacation spot.
A Russian site in the heart of Nice: Château de Valrose: After having built railroad lines in Russia, Baron Paul von Derwies (1825-1881) built an imposing castle (1856-1859) in the countryside of Nice on the Valrose estate. During his winter stays, he maintains an orchestra of a very high musical level.
Russian cultural and scientific contribution: Marie Baskirtseff (1858-1884), Bogoliubov Anton Tchekhov (1860-1904), Alexis Korotneff (1852-1915) and Léopold Bernstamm (1959-1939): A talented painter, Marie Baskirtseff is best known for her newspaper in which she talks about Nice, a city she particularly cherishes. From 1871, she made several stays there in different places. The Russian painters Iacobi, Bogoliubov Yourassov and Aïvasovsky, in particular frequent the city of Nice and draw subjects of paintings from it. Considered the greatest Russian dramatist of the 19th century, Anton Tchekhov came to Nice three times (1891.1897-1898.1900-1901) where he wrote his famous play “The Three Sisters”. In Villefranche-sur-Mer, Alexis Korotneff created in 1885 a Russian zoological station and built up a collection of works by Russian painters.
The Russian Cathedral: As more and more Russians came to Nice at the end of the 19th century, the church in rue Longchamp (1860) turned out to be too small and the construction of an imposing cathedral was being considered on a construction project. the architect Mikhail Preobrazhensky, professor of architecture at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg. It was inaugurated in 1912 and is considered to be the most beautiful Russian Orthodox church outside the border.
The Russian Ballets: Created in 1907 by Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929), impresario of ballets at the Mariinsky theater in Saint-Petersburg, the Ballets Russes crisscrossed Europe from 1909 In 1911, the company of the Ballets Russes settled in Paris, London and Monte -Carlo, making it a hotspot for dance in the 20th century. Famous choreographers and dancers will follow one another: Vaslav Nijinsky, Georges Balanchine, Serge Lifar. In 1924, Bromslava Nijinska created Le Train bleu. The company will survive under various names until 1960.
Presentation of views of Nice and its surroundings painted by François Bensa (1811-1895)
François Bensa (1811-1895) attended the Paul-Émile Barberi drawing school in Nice. From 1829 to 1834, he followed the courses of the Nice painter Joseph Castel in Rome for five years. Back in Nice, the painter sets out to reproduce historical landscapes, portraits and carries out decoration work. He became a drawing teacher at the lycée de Nice.
Exhibition “At the time of the crinolines. Nice, 1860”
As part of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Union of Nice to France, the Musée Masséna, art and history museum of the city of Nice, presents an exhibition dedicated to the evolution of women’s fashion from the decade 1860-1870 of the Second Empire, period marked by the visit to Nice, in 1860, of the imperial couple, Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie. The crinoline then reaches its most extravagant dimensions and then gradually disappears to create a new silhouette on the eve of the Third Republic.
Thanks to numerous loans from public and private collections, evening dresses, lace shawls, fans and ballroom notebooks are associated with the presentation of town and country dresses or costumes worn by children, faithful reduced images of women’s fashions.. The creation of patterns, woven or printed, technical innovations in fabric manufacturing, sales and distribution through stores, advertising and the role of seamstresses, ladies’ seamstresses and milliners are all themes developed in this exhibition. Fashion prints and vintage caricatures emphasize the characteristic details and secrets of the female figure in the days of crinolines.
Exhibition “Lights of Nice. The open-air workshop of Alexis Mossa”
The watercolors of Alexis Mossa appearing in this exhibition paint a wide panorama of Nice. The artist has chosen to capture the singularity of the Riviera city, from the brilliance of its light to the moiré colors of its shore. This ode to Nice, explored by neighborhoods, by hills and valleys, presents an endlessly renewed look at a city undergoing rapid change during the Belle Epoque and its late extensions of the interwar period.
Seeking expression of pure simplicity, Mossa walks the shores of the city, contemplates the sea in the swell or is moved by the clarity of the heavens. The painter feels more at ease in this genre and this technique, thus freed from the obligatory references to some historical or religious theme. He tirelessly devotes himself to the representation of these motifs, whether or not they include the human presence, never attached to a picturesque of bad quality. By studying this very special light, the artist builds his volumes and defines the space. A raw material for his works, it is treated with fluidity and thus achieves a virtuoso rendering of the transparency of the atmosphere. These limpid and crystalline watercolors reflect the triumphant presence of a sun and a clarity so emblematic of our region.
As part of the Year of the Marseillaise and in preview, presentation of the exhibition dedicated to Rouget de Lisle and the Marseillaise, produced by the Association des Mariannes d’Or.
An exhibition around 23 official portraits, but revisited, of the Presidents of the French Republic, with a meeting between Jean-Louis Debré and the schoolchildren of the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis. “Nice and the Côte d’Azur have always been an official destination for Kings, Princes and Presidents of the Republic. This meeting through the image of all our Presidents will benefit from the prestigious setting of the Masséna Museum, ”says Christian Estrosi, who won the national exclusivity of this educational, plural and republican event. Visitors will be able to put a face on these Presidents who are the symbol of the republican and national unity of France.
This presidential gathering shares the progress made by French Democracy in respectfully celebrating our elders and the current President, while strengthening the function of today and solidifying the Republic of tomorrow. We owe the creation and realization of this exhibition to Alain Trampoglieri, General Secretary of the national competition of the Marianne d’Or, Administrator of Radio France, who was a journalist at the Elysee and made his fame on the famous steps. Over the years, he has collected the portraits of our former Heads of State in town halls. In order to make this tribute to the Republic attractive, Alain Trampoglieri called on young designers and designers and on new technologies to revisit these portraits which until the end of the Fourth Republic were taken and drawn in black and white.
Exhibition “Picasso my friend”
Since 2002, VSArt Nice has been training children from leisure centers (Agora Nice-Est, Espace Soleil, Epilogue, La Semeuse and CEAS Espace Famille du Vallon des Fleurs) in museums and thus promotes their creations on different themes each year.. For the year 2009, the chosen theme is PICASSO. The children therefore worked on the master’s multiple works (paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc.). This end of school year exhibition presents the works of a hundred children whose quality and motivation can be appreciated.
Exhibition of photographs “Obama in Nice”
Journey to the heart of the White House… With the large color photographic prints from Agence France-Presse based in the United States, relive the historic event of Barack Obama’s coming to power: his campaign, his first steps in the Oval Office, his arrival in Europe… convincing clichés, a strong photojournalism which perfectly reproduces the atmosphere of the American presidential power. AFP is an international news agency providing real-time information on current events on five continents. Every day, AFP produces 5,000 dispatches in French, English, German, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, 2,000 photos and an average of 80 still or animated graphics. AFP journalists followed Barack Obama during his campaign, the night of his election, during his inauguration… and they continue to this day.