Musée Jean-Jacques Henner: a gem near Parc Monceau

Have you ever heard of the French painter Jean-Jacques Henner? I have to confess I had not until the museum dedicated to his work reopened in May. Located in his beautiful mansion a short walk away from Parc Monceau, it invites us to step back into 19th-century Paris in an intimate way, as if we were guests at the painter’s home.

Connaissez-vous le peintre Jean-Jacques Henner ? Je vous avoue qu’il m’était inconnu il n’y a pas si longtemps. Je pourrais pourtant rester de longs moments devant ses tableaux oniriques mettant en scène de sensuelles femmes rousses. L’ancienne demeure reconvertie en musée a rouvert en mai après d’importantes rénovations. Cet hôtel particulier à deux pas du parc Monceau permet de se replonger dans le 19ème siècle dans un cadre intime, comme si le peintre nous y invitait.

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When entering the museum, you pass through the former dining room to access the “salle aux colonnes” and the winter garden. You can easily imagine the parties that were held there, with men and women in 19th-century formal wear. The museum now uses this room for concerts.

Le ton est donné dès le rez-de-chaussée où on accède à l’ancienne salle à manger, puis le salon aux colonnes et le jardin d’hiver. On imagine aisément les réceptions qui ont pu y être données en costumes d’époque. Des concerts y sont organisés de nos jours.

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The smaller rooms in the upper level give us insight into Henner’s youth. The painter grew up in Alsace, on the border with Germany, and kept strong ties with the region. Tenderness and affection transpire from portraits depicting family members, with women wearing the traditional headdress. The paintings in the Italy room were done during Henner’s 5-year stay in Rome’s Villa Medici, where he was inspired by Italian masters and landscapes.

Au 1er étage, les plus petites pièces témoignent de la jeunesse du peintre. La salle Alsace rappelle les origines de Henner, resté attaché à sa région d’origine. On sent à travers certains portraits une douceur et l’affection qu’il portait aux membres de sa famille. La salle Italie quant à elle expose les tableaux peints lors de son séjour de 5 ans à la Villa Médicis.

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The Salon rouge is probably the most beautiful room of the museum. Portraits of 19th century Parisians are shown next to paintings depicting a dreamt era, where blue and dark tones beautifully contrast with the bright walls, the red hair and pale skin of the bathing women.

Le Salon rouge est probablement la plus belle pièce du musée. Elle mêle les portraits témoins d’une époque passée et les tableaux oniriques d’un temps rêvé, où les tons bleus et sombres contrastent magnifiquement avec le rouge vif de la pièce, les chevelures rousses et les corps laiteux des baigneuses.

In the studio on the top floor, you can see finished works among preparatory drawings. The biggest painting, Les Naïades, was a commission for a dining hall.

On accède enfin à un troisième niveau abritant l’atelier gris, où on peut admirer œuvres achevées et esquisses préparatoires. Le plus grand tableau, Les Naïades, était une commande pour une salle à manger.

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I truly enjoyed visiting Musée Jean-Jacques Henner: it allowed me to discover a painter that deserves more recognition. The intimate setting in a former home also makes the visit more emotional, as in the nearby Musée Jacquemart-André and Musée Nissim de Camondo. I highly recommend you go before or after a stroll in Parc Monceau. Like many museums in Paris, the entrance is free on the first Sunday of the month.

J’ai beaucoup apprécié la visite du Musée Jean-Jacques Henner avec la découverte d’un peintre qui mériterait d’être davantage connu. Le cadre intime nous ramène dans un autre temps et rend le lieu encore plus attachant, comme c’est le cas au Musée Jacquemart-André et au Musée Nissim de Camondo, situés dans le même quartier. Je vous le recommande donc vivement. Petite astuce : l’entrée est gratuite tous les 1ers dimanche du mois.

The Louvre – A few tips on how to visit the museum

Louvre Pyramid

It’s Bastille Day in France and the entrance to the Louvre is exceptionally free to celebrate. Today also marks the reopening of the Islamic Art gallery after this spring’s floods. The Louvre is the subject of popular posts on my blog: the Napoleon III rooms and the Ancient Egypt mummies still figure among my most-read posts years after I wrote them. So I thought I’d round up a few pieces of advice for your next visit.

Louvre Victoire de Samothrace

Is the Louvre the right museum for you? Make sure the kind of art you want to see can indeed be viewed at the Louvre. Its collections cover art until 1848. If your thing is Impressionism, head to Musée d’Orsay (which I much prefer, by the way). Likewise, if you like Modern art only, you will need to explore other options.

Watch out for free entrance days. If you can, visit on one of the 1st Sundays of the month when the entrance is free (October to March). Otherwise, tickets are at 15€.

Arrive early in the morning. I waited about 30 minutes before entering, which is reasonable. When I glimpsed outside later in the day, I saw the lines had extended far beyond what I had expected.

Louvre Baigneuse Valpincon IngresLouvre Lady in BlueLouvre Girl in pink

Prepare your itinerary and target only a few galleries to visit. The Louvre is HUGE and you won’t be able to see it all within 1 day. (You probably gathered from the pictures above that I am a 19th-century fangirl.)

Wear comfortable shoes. See above: the Louvre is huge and you will be walking for hours.

Louvre Joconde Mona Lisa

Be prepared to fight your way to see Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is no doubt a masterpiece, but do not expect a life-changing experience when viewing it. The painting is kept under a glass case. Visitors are kept at a distance with a cord. Dozens of people try to catch a decent glimpse, picture or selfie while security guards loudly chat about what they did the night before. In short, there is no way you can truly appreciate the painting in these conditions.


Louvre AngelinaLouvre Angelina cakes

Lunch! I enjoyed lunch at Angelina. Their restaurant is within the museum, a short walk from Napoléon III’s apartments. Yes, it is a bit pricey but it has a view on the Pyramid. And if your entrance to the Louvre was free, well, I believe that you can treat yourself to balance things out. Otherwise, there are lunch options underneath the Pyramid but they were less attractive. The choice was limited to a windowless cafeteria or a Paul with very few seats.

View from Louvre on Pyramid

Look out for stunning views of Paris. Don’t just look at the art.

Louvre Objets d'art 1Louvre Objets d'art 2

If you do not have the time to visit Versailles, visit the Department of Decorative Arts. The rooms hold collections similar to what you would see in the palace outside Paris. While beautiful, it does not have the same emotional dimension as if you where really in Versailles though.

Louvre Pavillon de l'Horloge

Check out the history of the Louvre. While you may not choose to visit the newly-organized Pavillon de l’Horloge, where you can learn all about the history of the palace, it would be a shame not to look it up. The Louvre was the home of the Kings of France up until Louis XIV lived in Versailles. You can still see the medieval part of the building, which is quite impressive.

Louvre Flamands

Enjoy your visit! If you have other advice on how to best visit the Louvre, I would love to hear about it.