Marmottan Museum

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Situated in the La Muette neighbourhood between the Parc du Ranelagh gardens and the Bois de Boulogne, the Marmottan Museum has its home in a
large town house built in the Empire style. Once a hunting lodge
built for the maréchal Kellermann, the house was purchased in 1882
by Jules Marmottan who saw it as the ideal place for his art
collection, primarily works centred on Napoleon.

Marmottan's son, Paul (1856-1932), an art historian, passionate
collector and fan of the second Empire, set up an office-library
in this neo-classical setting, and he dedicated his entire life
to the study of this period, travelling and researching widely,
and also collecting the large number of documents
which he used for his historical and artistic publications.
In 1921, he acquired a house in Boulogne for the sole purpose
of housing his enormous library. A scholar and philanthropist,
Paul Marmottan had a fixed policy of acquisition, or
as he put it the “saving”, of works for the most part executed for
Napoleon and his family. In 1932 he donated his two town mansions
to the Académie des Beaux-Arts and in 1934 the Marmottan museum
opened its doors to the public. Subsequently, as a result of
many donations, this originally Napoleonic collection became a
museum of Impressionist painting and today it holds the largest
collection of paintings by Claude Monet in the world.

Besides a remarkable collection of manuscript illuminations and
a number of Impressionist masterpieces, the museum houses an
exceptional ensemble of paintings, furniture, and objets d'art
in the Empire style. The decoration of the rooms on the ground
floor has been maintained so as to match the works displayed
there – of particular interest is the series of paintings
executed by Vernet and Bidauld of the Imperial chateaux.

Opening onto an interior garden there is a small, round salon
which is decorated beautifully in Empire style with pilasters
and friezes, and this provides a frame for one of the Museum's finest
piece: a geographical clock executed at the Sèvres factory in
1813. Designed as a celebration of Napoleon, it was modified
during the Restoration, with the head of the Emperor being
replaced by those of Diana and Apollo, and a representation
of the different time zones taking the place of the intended
Imperial scenes.

The other rooms present many beautiful works, particularly
paintings by Gérard (Portrait of Désirée Clary), by Favre
(La duchesse de Feltre and her children) and by Kinson
(Catherine de Westphalie).

On the first floor there are paintings which testify to Paul
Marmottan's interest in the landscapes and the architecture
of the First Empire. These paintings, drawings, and
watercolours by minor artists provide important documentary
evidence for places which have either disappeared or are
unrecognisable today.

Finally, don't miss two of the Marmottan Museum's finest exhibits,
the musicians' chandelier, a work by Thomire that belonged
to Talleyrand, and the rotunda with a gallery of portraits
by Boilly.

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