Tag Archives: Tiepolo fresco at Jacquemart-Andre

The Golden Age is Now

"Rouen Cathedral," Claude Monet, 1894, Public Domain

“Rouen Cathedral,” Claude Monet, 1894, Public Domain

Nelie and Edouard Jacquemart-Andre only pursued art from the 18th century and earlier. Monet, Manet, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, and Morisot were all active in the 1890s and later.  Presumably Nelie and Edouard agreed with the conventional wisdom that the Impressionists were a flash in the pan, destined for the dustbins.

On the other hand, Nelie and Eduoard bought for the future; they always intended their home to end up as an art museum.  And each had a keen eye for a bargain. They could have picked up Impressionist pieces for a song, and at least stored them away in a closet in case they ever amounted to anything.

Today, arcoss the Seine at the Musee d’Orsay, people shuffle through packed galleries and stand shoulder to shoulder to gaze at priceless Impressionist paintings.  The Musee Jacquemart-Andre is never crowded; most tourists never set foot in it. Nelie and Edouard had impeccable taste for the treasures of the past, but they must have closed their minds to the artistic innovations going on right under their noses.


The glorious Tiepolo fresco “Henri III Being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa” was commissioned by Contarinis 200 years after the historical event, to commemorate one of the proudest and happiest events in their family’s history.


When Nelie and Edouard installed the Tiepolo fresco 200 years later in their Winter Garden, they were also gazing backward into a golden time they might have preferred to their own time.


The tourist wandering the Musee Jacquemart-Andre today is gazing backward through the Parisian Belle Epoque of the 1890s, at a fresco painted in 1745 to depict a historical event from 1574. Much as I love history, I do try to live in the moment. What am I overlooking in my own contemporary world?

Join me next time for more explorations in the art and history of Europe!

Musee Jacquemart-Andre: The Belle Epoque Lives

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A Belle Epoque mansion, open to the public, still exists in Paris:  the Jacquemart-Andre Museum. The wealthy banker Edouard Andre built it with and for his wife, Nelie Jacquemart.  Work began in 1869 and was completed in 1875.  The mansion on the Boulevard Haussman was a glittering social hub which contained the couple’s fantastic art collection in purpose-built rooms. It became a museum in 1913, after the widowed Nelie bequeathed it to the Institut de France.


My favorite room in all of Paris (at least the part of Paris that is open to a lowly tourist) is the Winter Garden, replete with marble, plants, and a skylight to brighten dreary Paris winter days.


The double-helix marble staircase in the Winter Garden is a marvel of engineering and architecture. And the visitor climbing up is treated to a Tiepolo fresco at the top. Nelie and Andre snapped up the fresco during one of their many art-foraging trips to Italy.  (A fresco is not just a painting on a wall; the pigment is actually embedded in the plaster, so moving it requires carefully dismantling the entire wall.  With the Andre banking fortune, this was no problem at all for Edouard)



Join me next time!   I’ll be posting more about Jacquemart-Andre, one of the most beautiful and fascinating sights in Paris.