The Chancellerie d’Orléans, also known as the Hôtel de Voyer d’Argenson, was a famous townhouse, or hôtel particulier, built in Paris in the early eighteenth century. The building was designed by Germain Boffrand around 1707 and decorated by Antoine Coypel. Belonging initially to the Orléans branch of the French royal family, then given to the d’Argenson family, the building underwent significant renovation between 1763 and 1773 during its occupation by the family of Marc-René de Voyer d’Argenson. Charles de Wailly, the architect responsible for the 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. Despite its artistic significance, the historic monument was demolished in 1922, though the interiors were saved and acquired by the Banque de France. It was agreed at that time that the bank would store the hôtel’s interiors in anticipation of its future reconstruction. The impressive interior décor—including painted ceilings, sculpture, ornamental woodwork, marble columns, and fireplaces—remained in storage for the rest of the twentieth century.
How We Helped
Beginning in 2000, WMF led an effort to identify and catalogue the remains of the Chancellerie d’Orléans and help the French government identify a permanent location for their reconstruction. Public interest in the monument was increased with the completion of a three-dimensional model of the site in 2004, created with support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Plans for the reassembly of the hôtel interiors materialized in 2005, when the Hôtel de Rohan-Strasbourg was determined to be a suitable location for the installation, as the structure was designed by the same architect with rooms of similar proportions. Work on a feasibility study was undertaken and WMF Europe completed essential research, cataloguing and photography to document the conditions of the surviving interiors that had been stored for so long. The second 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.
Why It Matters
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 décor of the hôtel, which was among the most significant of its time, has been inaccessible to the public since the early 1920s. The opportunity to present the restored interiors in rooms of the Hôtel de Rohan-Strasbourg will present features comparable to the Chancellerie d’Orléans allowing for an immediate setting that is close to their original location.