“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. Often compared to the Frick Collection in New York, it has maintained its mansion atmosphere, which makes it unique in Paris. This museum lets visitors discover 19th century living areas: ceremonial rooms, monumental stairways, winter garden, private apartments and more.
Edouard André, a 19th century collector, and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, a renowned portrait artist, 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. But 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.”
History of Musee Jacquemart-Andre
“Edouard André hired society portraitist Nélie Jacquemart to paint his portrait. They fell in love and married in 1881. In their thirteen years of marriage, they would devote themselves to a shared passion of collecting art.
The couple travelled throughout Italy, Greece and the Middle East visiting auction and antique houses and making large purchases. During their travels, frequent renovations were made to their Paris mansion to create more room for their growing collection of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and frescoes. Unfortunately, Edouard suddenly died at sixty, leaving his wife alone and distraught. Worst of all, her in-laws accused her of misappropriating her husband's fortune.
Nélie was born poor. Following his death, Edouard's cousins (he had no siblings) wanted to ensure she would die poor as well. They set about devious ways to steal the family fortune away from her. However, Edouard got the last laugh. Shortly before his death, he had an iron-clad legal will prepared, bequeathing his entire estate to his wife. A sensational trial followed pitting Edouard's cousins against Nélie. She won the case.
After winning the court case, Nélie embarked on a world tour where she continued to add to the collection. She traveled to the Indies, China, and Japan. While in the Far East she received a telegram informing her of the sale of Chaalis Abbey, north of Paris. She cut her trip short to return to France to purchase it. The former abbey is now also part of Musée Jacquemart-André and it houses more of her collection. Chaalis had a special sentimental value since it's where she had spent her childhood.
Just before her death, Nélie took great care to classify and archive the entire collection. In her will, she emphasized her desire to open the collection to the public. After Nélie's death in 1912 the private mansion was bequeathed to the Institut de France. Always pragmatic, Nélie had thought of every detail, even the museum's opening hours.
One year later, in 1913, the Musée Jacquemart-André was inaugurated by the president of France, Raymond Poincaré. The museum was immediately successful and its first curator was appointed. “