Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris

The mansion is a symmetrical design inspired by classical models

That this small Parisian museum is grossly overshadowed by the larger, more flamboyant art institutions is no reason to omit it from your to-see list. On the contrary, the quiet Boulevard Haussmann location and the lack of enormous crowds makes it a bit of a respite from the giants.

Musée Jacquemart-André was the private residence of adept, prolific art collectors, Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart. The voyeuristic side of me always loves these extravagant old mansions; in addition to viewing once-private art collections, I’m taken with the architecture and design touches that reflect how daily life used to be.

Edouard André, the heir of a banking family, spent his time and money acquiring works of art to exhibit in his brand new 19th-century mansion. At first, he collected jewelry, gold and silver items, ceramics and tapestries, but quickly grew into contemporary paintings, sculptures, mantels and frescos.

Exterior yard

Though he lived there alone at first, he eventually married a well-known painter, Nélie Jacquemart, whom he commissioned to paint his portrait. The couple spent most of their time travelling all over Europe and the Middle East. They especially loved Venice.

Walking through the mansion is a treat. It’s grand and designed for entertaining, with movable walls and dramatic staircases. The formal state apartments contain a picture gallery and a music room and the informal apartments contain rooms with such names as Tapestry Room. There is an impressive and trendy (for then) winter garden, a smoking room and an Italian museum.

Currently, the museum is featuring an outstanding exhibit of Canaletto’s and Guardi’s Venetian paintings.

158, bd Haussmann 75008 Paris

10 a.m to 6 p.m., daily, and Mondays and Saturdays until 9 p.m

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