Bite-size Paris Museums: Musée Jacquemart-André
If you're thinking of a day at the museum but don't feel energetic enough to tackle the Louvre or the Musée d'Orsay, you can opt for a smaller art gallery that is manageable in only a couple of hours, and will bring just as much joy as its well-known counterparts. I am partial to the gem that is the Musée Jacquemart-André.
Built at the end of the 19th century for the affluent banker Édouard André, the classical mansion was inaugurated in 1876 with a grand ball that hosted most of the Parisian celebrities of the time. Aging Édouard André married the younger Nélie Jacquemart, an accomplished painter and art lover, in 1881. Nélie had modest origins but had managed to make a name for herself as an artist, and her work got admitted to the Salon several times. Together, Nélie and Édouard curated a beautiful home full of art treasures. After their passing, the mansion and everything inside, as well as a second home and art collection at Abbaye de Chaalis, were donated to the French people, with the Institut de France as curator.
The permanent collection hosts works of art ranging from the Renaissance and Flemish masters to great French artists of the 18th century. You’ll find familiar names like Boucher, Fragonard, Vigée-Lebrun, Chardin, Canaletto, Rembrandt, Bernini, Tiepolo, Botticelli, and many others. The art works are displayed in the large, sumptuous state apartments, as well as the smaller, more intimate informal ones.
The winter garden, a space that was inspired by the English fashions of the time, gathers an abundance of greenery under a glass roof, which bathes the space in natural light. This particular room impressed visitors the most at the time the house was built, and its charm still stands today. Adjacent to it, a graceful double helix staircase soars to the upstairs apartments. The grand lobby is dominated by a large Tiepolo fresco that was brought in from Villa Contarini in Italy.
You can wrap up your visit with lunch and some Stohrer-made desserts in the beautiful cafeteria, which is said to be one of the most beautiful tea rooms in Paris. Just be prepared to wait - the café does not accept reservations.
Address: 158 Boulevard Haussmann, 75008 Paris, France
Metro: Line 9 and 13, Saint-Augustin, Miromesnil or Saint-Philippe du Roule stops.