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The Jean-Jacques Rousseau collection

In 1921, the Count of Girardin sold his collection to the Institut de France. The Girardin collection comprises one of the most extensive assortments of documents of all kinds connected with J.J. Rousseau. The collection was composed of several hundred pieces; busts by Houdon, painted portraits etc… Innumerable engravings, representations of the philosopher dressed in the style of the period or in the costume of classical antiquity, cast in bronze, in terracotta, in plaster, in biscuit-ware, on playing cards.

The Henri Amic collection

In 1932, Henri Amic bequeathed a fine collection of boxes and other objects in Sainte-Lucie wood and Japanese "inros", paintings and drawings by Bastien Lepage and Dagnan-Bouveret.

Tour through the museum and its collection

The Hall

At the end is a very large and fine Beauvais tapestry, from a cartoon of 1749 attributed to François Boucher (Venus ordering weapons for Aeneas, from Vulcan); in front of this tapestry is a bust of Louis XIV in stone from the workshop of Coysevox. You can also find two large terracotta statues and a self-portrait in stone by A. Coysevox. The last statue represents Diana the huntress, probably from the studio of Lemoyne.

The Medieval and Renaissance room

We call it monks hall, the number of objects in this room cannot be fully enumerated here. You can see three bishop's crosiers in copper and Limousin enamel from the 13th century, excavated in the abbatial church, two panels with a background in gold by Giotto and paintings from the workshops of Botticelli (virgin and child), , Signorelli, Jean Bellegambe ... and some statues by Gagini.

West corridor

In this corridor, pieces of porcelain and pharmacists'pots from Italy, England, Germany and France are exhibited.

The great gallery of sculpted busts


The great gallery on the ground floor is 73 meters long, 4 meters wide, and 7 meters high. It displays a remarkable assortment of gothic and Renaissance coffers and numerous busts of the most famous sculptors from Italy ( Baccio Bandinelli, Vittoria…) and from France (Pajou, Lemoine, Houdon…) In the display cabinets, many works of antiquity and objets from Egypt, India, Syria, Burma, some Renaissance caskets and precious books with heraldic bindings of popes, kings, princes and bishops.

The dining room

Four canvases decorate the walls, hanging, on your left by Oudry, and on your right by Desportes. Between the doors, you can see a painting for a tapestry by Boucher. Opposite is a bust of Lebrun, first painter to the king, in painted plaster according to Coysevox, and an exceptional Louis XVI wall clock in gilded bronze. On the console is a collection of lidded vases and flowerpot holders in porcelain of the style "de la compagnie des Indes" bearing the royal arms. A large Moghan carpet is on the floor. Before the door of the library, a marvellous folding-screen painted by Huet, with monkeys-games.

The library

There are several fine examples of furniture : desk, chairs, deckchair, armchairs In front of you is a very nice Boulle style piece of furniture, a watercolour by Eugène Lami and two Chinese vases. A part of the books come from the king Louis-Philippe.

The central hall

This entrance is chiefly devoted to the Medici family and the Italian Renaissance. Four panels of Italian tapestry bear the arms of the Medici family as well as armchairs, amphoras and bronze mortars and the original model of the statue of Ferdinado de' Medici standing up again the city of Pisa, by Giambologna.

The billiard room

In the centre of the room is a large rosewood billiard table with a cue-holder, from the Charles X period. Down the sides, there are two screens; one in Savonnerie tapestry with four panels, patterned with vases and birds and another in genoese velvet. On the wall are five large canvases by "Martin des Batailles"of the mlilitary campaigns of Louis XIV and a portrait of the king. The museum houses a great many pieces of Chinese enamel : vases, flowerpot holders, tall bottles..

The living room

On the walls, there are some very fine portraits. On your left is a portrait of Puan (King's secretary) by Tocqué and a portrait of an architect, about 1670, by Kneller; on your right, there is a portrait of Mr de Beaujon by Van Loo and another of the Marquis de Razilly by Largillière. In this room, you have furniture of renown stamped with the maker's name.

The Oriental or Indo-Burmese room

This room is divided into two parts :
The carpets on the opposite wall, the chest and the Buddhas are from Burma.
The other objects are from India.
On the left handside of the wall, hangs a carpet from an elephant palanquin. In front of it stands a marble replica of the, "Grand Moghol’s" throne, a copy of the original ivory one. Many objects have been offered to Mrs André by the Maharadjah of Kapurthala. In the display cases, one can see some objects acquired during her trip to the Orient in 1902, the same year that she bought Chaalis. Ancient altars made of stuccoed and gilded wood, images of devout people and people bearing gifts, gilded wooden chests, radjahs’ banners, gongs and bronze temple lamps, pieces of furniture embossed with silver, variety of Indians and Cinghalese weapons and armour. In this very "salon" she once received a visit from the Maharadjah de Kapurthala and his son whom she had previously met during her visit to the Punjab.

The east staircase

You can see several paintings on the right hand wall : the portrait of the Regent by Santerre, two large pictures, "the Turkish Embassy in Paris" and "the Siamese Embassy in Paris" by Duplessis. High up on the wall is "Suzanne et les vieillards" (Suzanne with the old men) from Palma the Young workshop and four views of antique ruins by Pannini. On the landing is a large Boulle precision timepiece and a very fine verdure tapestry with flowers (Brussels, mid XVIth).

Madame André's boudoir

The furniture in the room is mostly Louis XVIth style : lyre-chairs, glass-canopy, children pedestal tables, armchairs and divans. The Louis XVth bureau is stamped Dubois. On the left-hand wall, is a Beauvais tapestry from an original design by F. Boucher : the country concert. The folding screen bears attributes to the Arts and Sciences. Between the two windows, a chest-high piece of furniture in ebony and Chinese lacquer, is stamped Mewesen. On the easel, the portrait of Nélie Jacquemart, at the age of 25, from Henri Regnault’s 1866 drawing, made in Rome. On the floor, a Savonnerie carpet. The wooden panelling dates back to Louis XVIth, saved in the nineteen thirties and forties from Parisian mansions that were being demolished.

The private apartment

Opening off a long corridor, it forms a series of three linked rooms down its length, in succession : a bedroom known as the "eagles room" because of the magnificent Empire bed held up by large eagles then Madame André's bedroom, formed by the knocking down of two rooms into one, next comes a harming and intimate bathroom panelled in green and gold. These rooms are exactly as the owner conceived them, and where she accumulated a quantity of valuable furniture and rare paintings (especially from the 18th century).

The great picture gallery

The great picture gallery on the first floor is devoted to paintings, but it also contains numerous chests and coffers from the 16th and 17th centuries, and several braziers…Eight cells open onto the gallery, which became guest bedrooms for Madame Jacquemart-André, each one containing fine furniture from different periods.

The Jean-Jacques Rousseau Gallery

The collection gathered by the de Girardin family between 1778 and 1920 represents one of the most important parts of the museum. It was bought by the Institut de France when it went up for sale. The gallery displays numerous representations of the Geneva philosopher : busts, statues, pastels drawings (including the one supposedly drawn by Liotard), engravings and countless objects in a variety of materials. The original busts of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and of Voltaire by Houdon are facing each other in one display case. Those of Glück and Tronchin complete the collection. Certain cases display autographed manuscripts of the philosopher and his "wife" Thérèse Levasseur, and also some originals but above all some very rare musical manuscripts as well as sets of plant illustrations. Besides an important and varied illustration collection, the gallery also contains some exceptional documents which prove that Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a multi talented character. The first room on the left is devoted to Ermenonville and the de Girardin family, the second one is the library the Girardins have assembled on their famous guest, the third room deals with the Jean-Jacques Rousseau-cult, some personal objects and projects of monuments dedicated to his glory.

The Statue room

In this vaulted room a certain number of statues have been regrouped, from the chapel and Madame Jacquemart-André's collection (14th to 16th century). These statues date from the XVth and XVIth C. Most of them are French and Italian. One can recognise Saint-Peter and Saint-James on both sides of the window, Saint-Barbe and her tower, a Virgin and Child as well as an Annunciation. The three statues between the windows are the only ones which belonged to the Royal Abbey of Chaalis.

The park and the rose garden

The park extends right round the abbey ruins and the château. It is completely encircled by a loop of the river Launette. The general layout must have been traced in the mid-16th century by the Cardinal d'Este, with a beautiful perspective, behind the monastery building, towards the canal leading away from the half-moon shaped ornamental ponds. A garden was situated behind the abbot's chapel, leading into a third cloister which no longer exists that used to be the site of the infirmary and guest lodgings. He had this garden, giving it a crenallated wall for a facade, with a portal bearing his arms. Inside, an Italian garden was installed; now replaced by a rose garden. The park and its plantations were renewed during the 18th century. Then again in the mid-19th century, when some of the magnificent trees which still exist were planted, and when the French-style garden, decorated with vases of flowers and marble statues, was extended by the addition of a park landscaped in the English fashion, with winding paths and follies.

The abbot's chapel


The chapel is the only building which survives practically intact from the former medieval Abbey of Chaalis. The Cardinal Hippolyte d'Este undertook to redecorate the chapel (16th century) and entrusted Francesco Primaticio with the task of painting the vaulting and the reverse side of the facade with frescoes. Nélie Jacquemart insisted on being buried in the chapel choir. Her tomb includes a commemorative plaque recalling her donation of the estate to the Institut de France (bronze statue).






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