Imagine you’re a man who has a fortune and you can do whatever you want with it. What would you spend it on? There was a man in Paris in 19th century who had the opportunity to ask himself that question. His name was Édouard André.
Like a typical wealthy man of that time, André felt a desire to have a portrait. That’s the way he met Nélie Jacquemart, a well-known society painter. They got married ten years later. As they shared a passion for art, they spent rest of their lives on purchasing artworks.
When Jacquemart died (almost 20 years after her husband) the mansion and its collection, according to André’s last will, were bequeathed to the Institut de France as a museum. Today it’s called the Musée Jacquemart-André and is located at 158 Boulevard Haussmann in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.
Edouard André and his wife gained there one of the finest collections of Italian art. They travelled to Italy several times and always came back with something new for their set. After Edouard’s death, Nélie continued acquiring the artworks. In 1913 the mansion was transferred into museum and the building hasn’t changed its look since then.
Henri Parent, a popular French architect, once got lucrative commission to build a house for heir of a banking family, named Edouard André. He was accustomed to profitable orders, but they always came from aristocratic families. As money doesn’t grow on trees and Henri wasn’t picky, he took the order, and thanks to this, you can now watch his work.
It’s of course the collection inside the main attraction, but the building is quite a work of art too. The facade on the Boulevard Haussmann, flanked by two pavilions, is punctuated by pilasters and has a rounded central front, in an arrangement inspired by the Petit Trianon. The court is closed by a semicircular wall and punctuated with blind arches. In the courtyard, the main façade has a pre-pierced body arched windows and decorated with four Ionic columns. The entrance is flanked by two seated lions and two imposing lamps.
Of course that’s just the words and they don’t portray the magnificence of this building. You should come here and see it with your own eyes.