The Musee Jacquemart-André, housed in a lavish 19th-century mansion, had a special Fragonard exhibition until January 13, 2008.
This retrospective of the quintessential 18th century French artist had around 100 paintings and drawings of society life, “both naughty and nice, from effervescent frou-frou and frolics to serene faces”.
Fragonard illustrated works by La Fontaine, for an edition of Don Qixote, for the Chanson du Roland, and a book on the Bourbon Dynasty, all very interesting. But, the special exhibition was WAY too crowded on the last day, when we went—we, like much of Paris it seems, realized it was now or never. Obviously the exhibition space is not meant/designed for so many people. So, that part was rather a failure for us.
But, it was worth waiting in the queue for so long (about an hour and a half) to get into the actual building. It’s a magnificent mansion, so opulent that it’s hard to imagine that a private, individual family had that much disposable money. It’s done on a grand scale, with nothing spared—tapestries, brocade wall coverings, fresco ceilings, marble and gilding, sumptuous staircases.
It’s an interesting family story, which you wonder about as you wander through the rooms. Edouard André, from a wealthy banking family, and his wife Nélie Jaquemart, an artist, had no children so devoted most of their lives to art. On display is that family collection, eclectic, but focused on Italian. So, it’s not a particular style or theme, as in many other museums. One goes there rather to see what one family collected—truly amazing. We were excited about the paintings by Rembrandt, Botticelli, Bellini, a couple by Fragonard, one by Titian, and even a couple by the lady of the house herself (of her husband).
If you have time, and if it’s not too crowded, treat yourself to a special tea in the ornate Tea Room.
PS I’ll try to put up some pictures of this lovely mansion tomorrow. Can’t do it right now, as the weather has cleared, and it’s finally sunny. So, we are going to go up the Eiffel Tower. Can you believe that during this stay here we haven’t been up?!! We’ve been under it, looked up to it, seen it from the river and any number of vantage points, but not up it. So, hold thumbs that the clear weather will hold.