When Nelie Jacquemart-Andre’s colorful life ended in 1912, she was buried according to her wishes in the exquisite 12th-century Chapelle-Sainte-Marie on the grounds of her historic but somewhat modest chateau, the Abbaye Royale de Chaalis. The chapel was built during the reign of France’s only sainted King, St. Louis. He used to worship there when he visited the monks in the Abbey. Nelie had donated the chateau, the chapel, the grounds, her Parisian mansion, and her priceless art collection to the Institut de France, and her homes were immediately opened as museums.
In gratitude, the Institut commissioned a bronze effigy which shows Nelie half-reclining, with her painter’s palette, in the chapel.
She rests beneath a beautiful ceiling painted by the great fresco artist Primaticcio. His most famous works grace the Palace of Fontainebleau, home of French kings through the centuries. What was good enough for several dynasties of French royalty was good enough for Nelie.
I do wish that with all their money and influence, Nelie and her husband Edouard Andre had delved into the exciting art appearing within their own lifetimes. Their collections would only be enhanced now by including Monet, Manet, Cassat, and others in that innovative group. But Nelie and Edouard were intent on preserving great art of the past, and their accomplishments were stellar.
Some people dream of founding a dynasty. Nelie had no children. Her dream was to welcome generations of art lovers to her homes after she was gone. I think she deserves to rest and dream and welcome visitors underneath a masterpiece. I’m going to leave her there for awhile, after spending quite a lot of time writing about her life and her collections. Rest in peace, Nelie!
Interested in previous posts featuring Nelie Jacquemart-Andre, her life and legacy? They are at: