A Visit to the Jacquemart-André Mansion in Paris
Fancy spending a day in a time warp back to 19th century aristocratic Paris? Don’t we all.
It was during this time that Napoleon the III issued an order for the city to undergo a series of upgrades and renovations. The Medieval times left behind shabby vicinities and poor infrastructure, and the leader saw room for improvement in these areas.
The project was interested over to a man named Georges-Eugene Haussmann. For the next few years he worked at improving the aesthetic appeal of Paris as we know it, and much of the city is still based around Haussmann architecture today.
It was upon one of the newly annexed Haussmann streets that the Jacquemart-André Mansion first laid its foundation. After quite the rambunctious past, it is today one of the finest private museums in Paris.
Unlike many of the other Parisian museums, the Jacquemart-Andre is perfectly doable to its entirety in one day. In just a few hours, rather. It is grand in scale, yes, but not the same kind of scale that vicinities such as the Musée de l’Armée or Louvre inhabit.
You’ll find it over in the 8th arrondissement of Paris not far from the Parc Monceau. I recommend a guided walking tour for both the museum and this arrondissement. North of the Seine is a whirlwind of a neighborhood, the Jacquemart-André mansion is but one example of the fine architecture available around here.
Customized walking tours will gladly ensure that your excursion lands up at the Jacquemart-André Museum upon request.
Here is everything you can expect from your visit to this unfathomable property.
The History of the Jacquemart-André Mansion in Paris
During this time of Haussmann architectural takeover in Paris, a plot of land in the 8th district of the city was purchased by a man named Edouard André. André happened to be the heir to a very wealthy Protestant banking family and sought to build the house of his dreams on the land.
The task was entrusted over to a contractor named Henri Parent who completed the masterpiece in 1875. It is often considered the greatest architectural achievement of his career and the mansion surpassed the expectations of both the owner and designer.
To put it simply, André had a mild obsession with collecting what can only be described as knick-knack items. Objects and artifacts made from golds and silver, miniature statues and impressive tapestries lined the walls of his newly finished home.
An artist who shared his enthusiasm for collecting was a woman named Nelie Jacquemart. After purchasing one of her paintings the two were eventually married in 1881.
Together they travel far and wide in search of their favorite pieces to fill their happy home. From Italy to Cairo, Athens to Morocco — there was no where these two weren’t willing to go to collect their art.
It was their travels to Italy that inspired the overall Italian Renaissance theme of the finality of the mansion. This is what makes the space so fascinating for visitors as it is a style of decor not commonly found around Paris.
In 1894 Edouard André passed away leaving Nelie Jacquemart to continue their legacy alone. She spent the next few years doing exactly as they had done throughout their marriage; collecting more art and more furniture than her house could hold.
So much so, that in 1902 Jacquemart had to purchase an additional property, known as the Chateau de Chaalis, in Oise just outside of Paris. It replicates what you will find in the Jacquemart-André mansion today: an elaborate collection of exquisite artworks and decor.
Ten years later, in 1912, Nelie Jacquemart passed away. She left both the Jacquemart-André mansion and the Chateau de Chaalis to the Institut de France. It was her last request that both properties be opened as museums in which the public could visit and pay homage to the collections within.
Thanks to this request by Jacquemart we have access to the Jacquemart-André museum as we know it today. A collection of works that, had she not thought ahead, would likely have been sold off at auction to the highest bidder.
There is solace in the thought that this is not the way this mansion saw its end. The tale of how this space came together is one of mutual love and appreciation for the arts of the world. Two individuals well off enough to roam the planet in support of both unknown and successful artists just trying to keep their crafts alive.
Exhibitions at the Jacquemart-André Mansion in Paris
Being a mansion style vicinity, the museum is laid out in a systematic way that allows for the best possible flow through the space. Being a private museum, it is almost never crowded but it’s nice to work through as the coordinators intended.
Much of the museum is made up of what is known as the permanent collections. These are everything from the rugs to the wall hangings, the furniture to the art — all of which was collected over the years by the Jacquemart-André duo.
The Jacquemart-André Museum does, however, also feature a temporary exhibition hall that works on rotation.
In this section you’ll be able to view art and ornamentals from collectors who boasted similar taste to Jacquemart and André. The museum also tries to support significant international art movements, and on occasion you’ll enjoy impressive pieces brought in for foreign display.
A recent exhibition featured 40 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings that were shipped in from Denmark for their French debut.
The temporary exhibit space sometimes dedicates the hall to a display of the great art masters throughout history. Not long ago, the mansion paid homage to Rembrandt and put on a beautiful collective display of his works for a short period of time.
The museum has separate payment options for individuals just seeking access to the temporary exhibitions and not the permanent ones as well.
The Picture Gallery at the Jacquemart-André Mansion in Paris
During their marriage, Jacquemart and André held some of the grandest gatherings for the Parisian elite right there within their home. The grand scale of the mansion allowed for it, and there was no shortage of money when it came to feeing and entertaining guests.
The Picture Gallery is where you’ll being your tour of the museum and is fittingly also where guests would first enter the space before a soirée back in the day.
The Grand Salon is where the actual entertaining took place, but the Picture Gallery posed as the waiting area where guests could greet and gather themselves before the main event.
The Picture Gallery was intended to be a room where the visiting guests could take some time to admire a few of the works on offer within the mansion.
Since the couple shared a love for 18th century paintings, two works by Francois Boucher still hang in this room today as they did back then.
The Picture Gallery is exciting. I love the feeling of being in this space for a few minutes before the rest of the tour takes place. You are both in absolute awe of the detail and thought that clearly went into the layout, and deeply in anticipation to see more.
The Winter Garden at the Jacquemart-André Mansion in Paris
Because of the renovations that Paris saw under the reign of Napoleon III, the 8th arrondissement is not short on outdoor entertainment areas. The neighborhood is littered with small parks and green plazas that were conceptualized under Haussmann.
As I mentioned, the mansion itself is just a short walk from the Parc Monceau, another worthwhile attraction in the 8th .
Inspired by this newfound appreciation of the great outdoors that Napoleon III seemed to have taken on, Jacquemart and André decided that their home too needed access to the outdoors at all times.
So saw the creation of the Winter Garden. A parlor located behind the Music Room; made entirely out of glass, marble and plant life.
The intention was for guests to have a space to take a break from dancing, have a cigarette or simply put their feet up for a few minuets. The couple also wanted residing guests to have somewhere to enjoy nature in the mornings without actually having to go outside.
Even the ceiling of this room is made of glass to get you as close to the outside as possible. During the Parisian winter it was a welcome little nook in the mansion where one could acquire a dose of Vitamin D without bracing the cold.
The Library at the Jacquemart-André Mansion in Paris
The most secluded room in the mansion was originally intended to be the official apartment of Nelie Jacquemart. However she changed her mind and moved to a wing closer to her husband; she decided that this private space would make a better library instead.
The Library in the Jacquemart-André mansion was where the couple would come together and flip through hundreds of catalogues in attempt to decide what to intricate objects to purchase next and where in the house to place them.
For much of the couples time together, the Library Room was filled with a variety of books collected both in Paris and on their travels. It was what you’d expect a library space to look like — a very, elaborate, curated library that is.
Since becoming a museum, the books have been removed and just the art left up for display. This is largely due to the fact that the Library Room is where the couple kept their collection of Rembrandt paintings.
You’ll view these here along with a few other Dutch originals and preserved artifacts straight from Egypt.
It’s an interesting room and you’ll probably spend quite a bit of time in here. It’s interesting to imagine both Jacquemart and André actually in the space plotting the very home you are currently standing in.
The Music Room at the Jacquemart-André Mansion in Paris
In the spirit of saving the best for last, I bring you to the Jacquemart-André Music Room; a room intended solely for dancing — imagine!
This is a double story space with a hollow interior, so both floors can see one another at all times.
On the top floor, the orchestra would gather and play all night long for the guests of the lovers. On the bottom floor, said guests would dance the night away breaking only to enjoy a few moments in the Winter Garden next door.
To hold the ambiance of an evening of fun, the Music Room features dark walls and ornate wood finishes. Portraits of fellow aristocrats hang on the walls.
The ceiling is where the magic is. Take note and look up the minute you enter this room and prepare to be wowed. Like something straight out of the Sistine Chapel, Jacquemart and André bring the Italian Renaissance deeper into their home with this exquisite piece of work.
The ceiling was done by one of the most renowned interior painters of the time; Pierre-Victor Galland.
I’ve touched on but a fraction of the spaces that exist within this exquisite museum — I could go on, but there are just some parts of this home for which words cannot do justice.
Take yourself on a soul-treating excursion to the Jacquemart-André Museum any day of the week. They are open between 10am and 5:30pm. If you’d like to enjoy a guided tour while in the space, call in advance and let them know you are coming.
Italy meets Paris in a beautiful fusion over in the 8th arrondissement — welcome!