The Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris was a family house for years, having been created from the private home of Édouard André (1833–1894) and Nélie Jacquemart (1841–1912) to display the art they collected during their lives.
Edouard André, the scion of a Protestant banking family, devoted his considerable fortune to buying works of art. He married a well-known society painter, Nélie Jacquemart, who had painted his portrait 10 years earlier. Every year, the couple would travel around Italy, amassing one of the finest collections of Italian art in France. After his death, Nélie bequeathed the mansion and its collections to the Institut de France as a museum, and it opened to the public in 1913.
It is a lovely, intimate space, reached via a courtyard hidden behind large dark green wooden doors. It holds eclectic exhibitions and the current one, of works by Botticelli (1445-1510) exceeded expectations.
Botticelli painted wonderful society portraits.
A master painter of the Renaissance in Italy, Botticelli’s career attests to the economic development and profound changes that transformed the rule of the Medicis.
Botticelli excelled in painting women, whether as different incarnations of the Virgin Mary, or depicting allegorical goddesses such as the famous Venus Anadyomene painting (which is at the Uffizzi Palace in Florence.)
There are few people to touch him for the purity of his lines or the expression in the eyes of those lovely faces.
Perhaps it is just me, but I tend to find, in images of the Virgin, that the artist always catches the right expression of purity combined with maternal love in the mother, but the baby Jesus always looks disgruntled, like a little old man with an infant’s body. This is true in Byzantine icons, too.
And of course, those wonderful nudes depicting Venus. The black background brings out the luminosity of the subject.
Botticelli made a few, all different.
Something I didn’t know is that, in later years, Botticelli came under the influence of the monk Savonarola, and that gave his work a not-so-pleasant dimension. Of course, by then he was old for the standards of the age, and perhaps he could not see very well, so much of the work was made by assistants.
As a whole, an exhibition to fill one with joy. There were many little treasures to discover, such as drawings on silk, or this little jewel, a small panel, part of a series.