Door from the Grand Salon in Hôtel de Belle Isle, Paris


Not on view

Long thought to have been part of the interior decoration of the Tuileries palace, Paris, and having survived the 1871 fiery destruction of the palace during the Paris Commune, a door panel, large wall panel, pilasters, the surround of an overmantel mirror (trumeau) and elements of the cornice are now identified as having come from the Grand Salon in Hôtel de Belle Isle. Located at 56 rue de Lille, this private residence was owned by the French statesman César Gabriel, comte de Choiseul-Chevigny and first duc de Praslin, Following his death in 1785, his son Renaud-César de Choiseul, second duc de Praslin inherited the building which was considered to be among the most beautifully situated mansions in Paris. The garden terrace facing the Seine offered views of the Tuileries and Louvre palaces across the river. The interior decoration was no less magnificent and included splendid paneled rooms. The exquisite arabesque decoration of the boiserie from the Grand Salon was inspired by Raphael’s painting in the Loggie of the Vatican. Dating to circa 1785, the carved ornament bears similarities to the work of the brothers Jules-Hugues and Jean-Siméon Rousseau, painters and carvers of the Bâtiments du Roi (litt. The King’s buildings) an agency responsible for the building works at the king’s residences, and has been attributed to them.

The fragments were later part of the model collection of woodwork, paneling, and seat furniture of Maison Leys, a successful decorating business, located at the Place de la Madeleine in Paris. Since 1885 the business was directed by Georges Hoentschel who installed the collection in 1903 in a museum-like display at Boulevard Flandrin, Paris. The painter Léopold Stevens (1866-1935) depicted this installation in his Interior of the Hoentschel Collection at 58 Boulevard Flandrin, Paris (2019.55). Hoentschel sold the collection in 1906 to J. Pierpont Morgan who gave these woodwork elements, with the rest of the decorator’s seventeenth and eighteenth century objects, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art the following year.

Door from the Grand Salon in Hôtel de Belle Isle, Paris, Oak, painted white and gilded, French

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