With only a couple of hours to spend in Paris, as I was on my way to Versailles, and looking for an art gallery I hadn’t visited before I settled on the Musée Jacquemart-André. What was once the private home of banker Édouard André and artist Nélie Jacquemart is now a private museum where visitors can admire exquisite eighteenth century French and Italian paintings in the private apartments on the ground floor, and agreeable in their harmonious display Renaissance artworks in the so-called Italian Museum on the piano nobile.
The mansion is thoroughly charming and occasionally whimsical. It just so happens that visitors traversing the formal Music Room towards the secluded Winter Garden end up facing a spiral staircase which amazes not only for its unusual position at one extremity of the building but for its extraordinary design. Word has it that with such a remarkable structure the architect, Henri Parent, had his revenge on his rival Charles Garnier who had got the commission of the Opera.
While mounting the staircase, visitors can also glimpse at a fresco which is now mounted on canvas as it used to adorn the walls of Villa Contarini, near Venice but entered the Jacquemart-André collection at the end of the nineteenth century. This is part of a set of frescoes painted by the Italian artist Giambattista Tiepolo during the second half of the eighteenth century and now scattered around the mansion: the one seen in the photo below represents an Allegory of Justice and Peace and floats on the Boudoir’s ceiling, while another decorate the museum’s restaurant ceiling. As it’s not everyday that you get the chance of dining under a Tiepolo fresco, I planned to have lunch in the museum restaurant before starting my visit but … despite all my good intentions, by the time I got to Boulevard Haussmann (I’ll spare you the tale of my plane taking off late and my plodding through a more chaotic than usual Gare Du Nord) it was already afternoon when I got there and I was so famish and tired (the unseasonable warm weather wasn’t helping either) that I didn’t hesitate a moment when the waitress offered me a table outside.
The museum has also an area dedicated to temporary exhibitions and the afternoon I visited I happened to brush elbows with Italian curators and journalists as they were arriving for the opening of Caravaggio’s Roman Period. Later in the day, I was reading a publication I got from the bookshop about the formation of the Jacquemart-André art collection (truth be told, I was leafing through it as it is published only in French and I really need to brush up on it) when I found in my Inbox an invitation to the opening of the exhibition La Stanza di Mantegna. Capolavori dal Museo Jacquemart-André di Parigi at Palazzo Barberini in Rome. What a coincidence!
Camera: Fujifilm X100F
Location: Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris