Paris Intimate Museums

With exhibit names such as In the Time of Klimt, The Vienna Secession at the Pinacothèque de Paris and From Giotto to Caravaggio at Musée Jacquemart-André, one would think museum masterpieces were on view. But, of course, it’s necessary to read the subtitles. Famous names draw crowds. Though Parisians are avid museum visitors, who would clamor to see exhibits called the Vienna Secession or The Passions of Robert Longhi? Still, there is always something to learn.

Disappointed in the scarcity of Klimt paintings, I read instead exhibit text and visuals on the history of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the development of the Viennese Art Nouveau Movement (Sucession) from the end of the nineteenth century to the early years of Expressionism in the twentieth century.

Similarly, Giotto to Caravaggio had more works from other Italian artists who were influenced by the master bad boy Caravaggio. Scholarly interpretations of Robert Longhi figured larger than any of the art as did his claims of false attributions to Caragaggio. Nonetheless, the Musée Jacquemart-André is worth a visit to roam back in time throughout the eighteenth century private mansion of Édouard André. And, certainly, a stop in the lovely café for dessert.

The recently renovated Picasso Museum in the Marais was, however, a surprising treat, particularly because I was never enamored of the old one.  Housed in a splendid seventeenth century private home (aka a hôtel particulier), it was originally dubbed the Hôtel Salé or salty house for its owner/builder, Pierre Aubert, who married well and collected salt taxes for the king. The central staircase, an elegant gem, leads to salons filled with Picasso’s own work as well as other artist’s paintings he collected—those by Braque and Matisse and a few early Cezanne’s are worth the visit alone. But the new layout makes wandering a bright, airy, spacious delight. Don’t miss it.

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