Musée Jean-Jacques Henner A successful renovation

The museum entirely devoted to the work of Jean-Jacques Henner, a celebrated artist in the 19th century but little-known today in the 21st, recently reopened its doors.

Jean-Jacques Henner was an influential artist at the end of the 19th century. The son of Alsace farmers he was showered with awards and honors during his career. He won the Prix de Rome in 1858, became a member of the Institut in 1889 and collected several medals at the Salon, where the government regularly acquired his canvases. They are displayed in a number of French museums, yet few exhibitions or retrospectives are dedicated to his painting. Were it not for this museum in Paris where his work is displayed on three floors, he would have faded into oblivion.

The visitor itinerary chronologically follows the career of the official artist and showcases his working environment in a reconstructed studio right at the top of the town house. The visit begins on the second floor, where three rooms look back over Henner’s life. The first is devoted to Alsace and displays portraits, scenes of everyday life and landscapes. The second explores Italy through works he had to send to show his progress after he was awarded the prix de Rome in 1858.

Musée Jean-Jacques Henner

43 Avenue de Villiers, 75017, Paris Phone : 01 47 63 42 73
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The last room holds his most famous painting: L’Alsace. Elle attend. (Alsace. She is waiting.). This superb portrait of a woman is of immense pictorial and also symbolic value: it was commissioned by the wives of industrialists in Thann for Léon Gambetta, a fierce opponent of the cession of Alsace and Lorraine to the new German Empire following the war of 1870. Henner himself had actually chosen French citizenship. Around this painting are several others, which were displayed at the annual Salon of artists approved by the Académie des beaux-arts, and portraits that provided part of the painter’s income. A stairway leads to a little room behind moucharabies where thematic and temporary exhibitions are held. On the last floor, the ambience of Jean-Jacques Henner’s workplace has been recreated. In fact, his studio was on place Pigalle, and he had never come to this house, which was purchased fifteen years after his death from the family of another painter, Guillaume Dubufe.

After seeing the studio, we return to the ground floor. The visit ends in what was formerly the Dubufe’s dining room. A large interactive display shows the artistic heritage of the plaine Monceau, which was a nerve center of high society at the time. The musée Jean-Jacques Henner hopes to help revive its sparkle and excitement.

By Dominique Millérioux. Photos : Hartl-Meyer, Franck Raux - Published the

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