Posted 8 years ago
Not too far from the Panthéon and closer to the Seine, past the Sorbonne in the 5th arrondissement is a museum devoted to the Arts of the Middle Ages – the Musée de Cluny.
The museum is housed in a unique Gothic building built in the late 15th century by Jacques d'Amboise at 6 place Paul-Painlevé. It is the only surviving medieval palace in Paris. It was formerly the town house (hôtel) of the abbots of Cluny, started in 1334. It is partially constructed on the remnants of the third century Gallo-Roman baths known as the Thermes de Cluny.
In the photo of the postcard above the gate you can see the coat of arms of Jacques d'Amboise, the Abbot of Cluny (1485-1510).
The building survives because of a collector!
His name was Alexandre Du Sommerard (1779 - 1842) an amateur archaeologist and art collector.
He volunteered for the army at age 14 and took part in the French Revolutionary Wars.
The story is familiar to those of us on CW!
“Returning to civil life, he became attached to the Cour des comptes, at first as a référendaire, then as a conseiller-maître, spending all his leisure time and most of his modest fortune on collecting, classifying and publishing a collection of medieval and Renaissance art objects.
Each day, his cabinet of furniture, vases and utensils of all kinds which he saved from their destroyers, since for a long while he was almost the only person in Paris collecting these curiosities that were later so much studied. Little by little he gained imitators and, always ready to reply to questions of taste and even enquiries from the indiscrete curious, Du Sommerard welcomed people to see his collection and gave lessons in practical archaeology.
The hôtel de Cluny, a Gothic palace built in the late 15th century by Jacques d'Amboise and the only surviving medieval palace in Paris, owes its survival to Du Sommerard. He took it over as a home and as a place to house his collection. On his death the Musée d’antiquités nationales that he created was acquired by the French state and rue des Mathurins was renamed rue du Sommerard in his honour.” Wikipedia.
His collection covers the history of the Arts from Antiquity to the Renaissance.
His son Edmond du Sommerard, continued his father’s example and added more important items to the collection for forty years The most important was a tapestry collection, which includes the six fifteenth century tapestries called La Dame à la Licorne and the Visigoth crowns from the Treasure of Guarrazar, Guadamur, (Castille).
At Edmond’s death the collection numbered 11,000 catalogued objects.
Since 1992 the Musée de Cluny is now known as the Musée national du Moyen Âge. (6 Place Paul-Painlevé, 5th arrondissement, 75005 Paris, France)
This is a postcard published by N.D. Phot No. 86: Neurdein et Cie (1860’s-1919) Paris, France.