domingo, 15 de mayo de 2011
PARIS: Auguste RODIN. Interpreti veneziani
The Hôtel Biron stands below the dome of the Invalides at 77 rue de Varenne. It is not located between a courtyard and a garden like most of the large houses in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, but is detached like a real château, surrounded by three hectares (7.4 acres) of grounds.
The house was built between 1728 and 1730 by the architect Jean Aubert, who later designed the magnificent stables of the Château de Chantilly, and commissioned by Abraham Peyrenc de Moras, a wig-maker who had made his fortune through speculating in paper money. Although Peyrenc de Moras was one of the nouveaux riches, he demonstrated unerring good taste, calling on Aubert who created one of the masterpieces of rocaille architecture in this house. The beauty of the façades, the south pediment and the masks above the windows is equalled by the refinement of the internal decoration, particularly the skilfully carved panelling in the suite of five interconnecting rooms overlooking the grounds to the south. Fortunately the museum was able to buy back much of the original decor after World War II, the panelling of the oval drawing-rooms to the east and west in particular. François Lemoyne, First Painter to the King, was asked to supply the painted decor, sixteen medallions or overdoors ; shortly afterwards he was to undertake the decoration of the ceiling of the salon d’Hercule at Versailles. Recently the museum was able to buy two overdoors, Venus Showing Cupid the Ardour of his Arrows and the Labours of Penelope, and restore them to their original positions ; a third is in Nancy museum.
As we can see, the house in 1730 was notable for its magnificence and refinement. However, Peyrenc de Moras did not enjoy it long as he died in 1732 ; his widow subsequently rented it out to the duchesse du Maine, Louis XIV’s daughter-in-law, until her death in 1753. The property was then sold to the maréchal de Biron, who had distinguished himself at the Battle of Fontenoy, and from then on it bore his name. Biron made very few changes to the internal layout of the house, but be completely transformed the grounds, turning them into one of finest parks in Paris, commented on by all the guides of the period. In 1782 the comte and comtesse du Nord - actually the future Tsar Paul I who was travelling incognito using this pseudonym - visited the Hôtel Biron: “Their Imperial Highnesses studied the garden which is one of the wonders of Paris, admiring the beauty of the flowers and the variety of the borders. They walked among the flower beds and the shrubberies, marvelling at the boldness and elegance of the trellis work forming gateways, arcades, grottoes, domes, Chinese pavilions..."