Site and Significance
An Eighteenth-Century Masterpiece
The Chancellerie d'Orléans, also known as the Hôtel de Voyer d'Argenson, was a famed townhouse, or hôtel particulier, built in Paris in the early eighteenth century. The building, which contains a large painted ceiling by Antoine Coypel, was designed by Germain Boffrand around 1704. It belonged initially to the Orléans branch of the French royal family, but was given to the d'Argenson family, under whose ownership it underwent significant renovation between 1763 and 1773. Charles de Wailly, the architect responsible for this redecoration, implemented an aesthetic program that was typical of the day, incorporating the work of contemporary artists including Pajou, Fragonard, Gouthière, Durameau, and Lagrenée. Embodying a transitional style between the rococo and early neo-classicism, the interior was one of the most celebrated in Europe.
In the early twentieth century, the building was purchased by the Banque de France, which obtained permission to dismantle it in order to expand the bank's headquarters. Although it was agreed that the interiors would be reconstructed at another location, the impressive decor—which includes painted ceilings, sculpture, ornamental woodwork, marble columns, and fireplaces—remained in storage for decades.
A New Home for the Chancellerie d'Orléans
Beginning in 2000, WMF led an effort to identify and catalog the remains of the Chancellerie d'Orléans and help the French government locate a permanent site for its reconstruction. Public interest in the monument increased with the completion of a three-dimensional model of the site in 2004, and plans for the reassembly of the interiors materialized in 2005 when the former Hôtel de Rohan-Strasbourg (in the Marais, Paris, inside France's national archives enclosure), built in the same period as the Chancellerie d'Orléans and comprising rooms of similar proportions, was deemed a suitable location for the installation. Work on a feasibility study was started and WMF Europe completed essential research, cataloging and photographing the conditions of the surviving interiors that had been stored for so long. The second, and currently ongoing, phase of the conservation program includes the restoration and reassembly of the decorations and their assembly and installation in the rooms of the Hôtel de Rohan-Strasbourg.
Restoration and Reassembly
The restoration and reassembly of the interiors of Chancellerie d'Orléans are crucial to the broader acknowledgement and public appreciation of this historic monument. The presentation of its restored interiors in the Hôtel de Rohan-Strasbourg, a setting comparable to their original location, provides an exciting opportunity for this space and its impressive works of art to be viewed by the public for the first time since the early 1920s. Work is expected to be completed by fall 2021.
World Monuments Fund safeguards cultural heritage around the globe, ensuring our treasured places are preserved for present and future generations.
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With support from The Selz Foundation, The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, and Irene Diamond Fund.