Located in the heart of Paris, Hôtel de Talleyrand is a pivotal site of over a century of diplomacy and a spectacular example of a late-eighteenth-century Parisian townhouse, or hôtel particulier. The building and interiors, both superior examples of architecture of the French Enlightenment, were designed between 1767 and 1769 for Louis Phélypeaux, Comte de Saint-Florentin. The building was purchased in 1812 by Maurice de Talleyrand Perigord, who made use of it to receive heads of state and international dignitaries, marking the beginning of its lengthy history as a site of diplomatic activity. Following Talleyrand’s death, the residence was purchased by Baron James-Mayer de Rothschild and remained with his family until 1947, when it was purchased by the U.S. government. To this day, the townhouse is used for receiving guests at diplomatic meetings, receptions, conferences, and cultural events.
Original decorative scheme restored
The conservation mission to restore Hôtel Talleyrand was launched in 1999 by the U.S. Department of State under the direction of the U.S. Ambassador to France. World Monuments Fund joined in the conservation effort and successfully implemented the final phase of work from between 2003 and 2006, focusing on a suite of ten rooms named the George C. Marshall Center. An extensive study of the decorative schemes was undertaken and analysis was completed on traces of color samples taken to determine the original colors of each room. An eighteenth-century glue-based gray paint was identified as the original color layer, and a contemporary replica of this paint was introduced into the rooms, restoring the original decorative scheme. Interior decorative surfaces were cleaned, wood paneling and ornamental features were restored, reconstitution of original gilded and painted finishes was completed, and the stucco ceilings and decorative plasterwork were renewed. Many decorative elements of the state apartments remain in situ; however, the main fireplace was relocated under the direction of the Rothschild family. During restoration it was returned to its original site between the Grand Reception Room and the State Office. The two doors which had flanked the hearth were recreated, fully reestablishing the original architectural layout.