Right next to the famous Parc Monceau, the Nissim De Camondo Museum is located inside the former residence of the Count Moïse de Camondo. It’s extraordinary collection reveals Camondo’s passion for 18th century art, as well as his lavish lifestyle. In this article, we will explore the Museum collective, the collection, as well as the life of Count Moïse de Camondo.
Originally from Constantinople, the Camondos relocated to France in 1869. The family was fortunate to have owned one of the largest banks in the former Ottoman Empire. They continued their venture by opening a bank in France under the name, ‘Isaac Camondo & Cie’.
What do the fabulously wealthy do with all of their money? Many things of course, but in this case the Camondo cousins started collecting rare and valuable works of art. Because of their shared passion for collecting, cousins Isaac and Moïse were both well known in the artistic communities of that time. Whereas Isaac was more interested in the Orient, Moïse’s passion was for French 18th century art and furnishings.
In 1911, Camondo had his father’s mansion demolished, and ordered the construction of a new structure more in line with his personal tastes. Architect René Sergent was hired to recreate 18th century opulence with modern conveniences. As a result, the Petit Trianon at Versailles was a major influence in the building’s design. From 1914 onwards, the Camondo family lived at the estate.
Unfortunately, Moïse de Camondo’s son, Nissim, perished while fighting for France during an aviation battle in World War I. Consequently, the Museum was named in honour of him.
After his death in 1935, the mansion and it’s contents were donated at the behest of Count de Camondo to the Decorative Arts Museum. It was opened to the public a year later. Tragically, Camondo’s daughter, Beatrice, her husband, and their two children were deported to Auschwitz during World War II. They did not survive. As a result, there are no living descendants of the family.
Founded in 1882 by a group of collectors due to the Universal Exhibition, the non-for profit organization’s mission is to (and still is), “promote the applied arts and develop links between industry and culture, design and production”. It was known as the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs (UCAD) for quite some time.
However, in 2018 the organization’s name changed to MAD Paris. Although the name has changed, its goals are similar. The latest incarnation aims to, “stay true to its original aims of safeguarding the collections, promoting culture, providing art education and professional training, and supporting design”.
MAD has three locations in Paris. These include: the Decorative Arts Museum (in the Louvre), the Nissim De Camondo Museum, and the Camondo School of Design and Interior Architecture. Notably, all of the locations host arts and crafts workshops.
The Museum’s collection has a spectacular array of antique items from the reigns of Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI. It even boasts a silver service given to Catherine the Great of Russia. In fact, many of the items in the collection were made for French royalty, or were, at one time, housed at the Palace of Versailles. All of the carpets, tapestries, paintings, sculptures, furniture and other decorative objects all date from the 18th century. Unimaginable lavishness from another era! But what we want to know is, how could you live amongst such rare and expensive antiques? Weren’t they nervous about knocking something over, or spilling a cup of tea? Perhaps not.
In addition, what is most interesting about the collection is the mansion itself. It is truly frozen in time, and was preserved exactly how Camondo himself left it.
A visit to the Museum is divided by the following floors and rooms:
The Lower Ground Floor– the Kitchen, the Scullery, the Chef’s Office, the Hall, and the Servant’s Dining Room.
The Upper Ground Floor-the Gallery, the Great Study, the Great Drawing Room, the Salon des Huet, the Dining Room and Porcelain Room, the Small Study, the Pantry, and the Garden.
The First Floor-the Blue Drawing Room, the Library, Nissim de Camondo’s Apartments, the Bathrooms, and Moïse de Camondo’s Apartments.
Located inside the Museum, Le Camondo’s offers a dinning experience that is unparalleled. In fact, the restaurant is now situated in what used to be the garage of the mansion! In addition, their terrace has a wonderful ‘secret garden’ feel to it, and is a calm oasis in the busy arrondissement. Perfect during the spring and summer months! In contrast to the Museum, the restaurant’s decor is simplistic and inviting. Also, their menu is modern as well as reasonably priced. Whether you are stopping by for a cocktail or a special candlelit dinner, Le Camondo never fails to delight.
Hours of operation:
Monday- Saturday- Midday to Midnight
*As always, we recommend booking in advance, especially for dinner.
Experience 18th century elegance, as well as the life and passions of an extraordinary man, with a visit to the Nissim De Camondo Museum!
Address: 63 rue de Monceau, 75008, PARIS
Hours of operation:
Monday and Tuesday- CLOSED
Wednesday – Sunday- 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Ticket price: 9€
Free Entry with the Paris Pass!