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SALON DE MUSIQUE, BIBLIOTHÈQUE DE L’ARSENAL
- WMF Program:Field Project
Much of the Arsenal was constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries. The original complex occupied a vast territory between the Seine River and the Bastille, with only part of this ensemble surviving today. Its structure and decorative interiors changed over time. It served as an arsenal until the reign of Louis XIII, and later became a private library, which was eventually opened to the public. In the second half of the 18th century, the Marquis de Paulmy, a former ambassador and minister, housed his noted book collection in the Arsenal. During the French Revolution, the library was seized and a decree of April 28, 1797, officially created the Bibliothèque Nationale de l’Arsenal and opened it to the public. In the 19th century, the Arsenal’s brightest moments were when the librarian Charles Nodier created a welcoming atmosphere for the intellectual elite of the time including Alfred de Musset and Victor Hugo.
HOW WE HELPED
During the conservation program, the boiseries (ornately carved wood panels) were dismantled for the first time since the 18th century, uncovering preparatory drawings on the walls. A survey was carried out to safeguard all the drawings and graffiti. It was also found that, contrary to what had been a previous interpretation of historic documents, the decor was indeed produced specifically for this room. The creation of a harmonious effect was very important to protect the integrity of the room. The challenges of restoring the original color scheme and assuring proper technical conservation of the cornices, boiseries, and painted surfaces necessitated constant dialogue between the various conservation professionals collaborating on the room, including its four allegorical paintings that were to be rehung at the conclusion of the restoration of the wall surfaces.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Arsenal’s Salon de Musique dates back to the mid-1740s when the Comte d’Eu commissioned the architect Dauphin and the sculptor, Angrand to decorate the interiors. Its high quality decoration made this room highly fashionable among Paris interiors, but it was nearly forgotten in recent decades. WMF’s involvement with the restoration has returned the Salon de Musique to its previous beauty. It has also provided the opportunity to more fully understand the style and taste of the period.