Restoration of the Salon de musique of the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal

1. Salon de Musique of the Pavilllon de l’Arsenal
(after restoration but before furnishing)
Photo : David Paul Carr/BnF

7/10/08 — Restoration — Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal — As soon as they’re finished, restorations are all systematically qualified as being « exemplary » by the developer. This is the exact term used by Bruno Racine, the president of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) to commend the work carried out in the Salon de Musique at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal (ill. 1).
In this case, he is totally right. This is an exemplary restoration in that it has respected the spirit of the site. It is especially exemplary because instead of just scraping away the gray paint on the woodwork and repainting it “identically”, the restorers proceeded carefully and were thus able to discover the original shade which was perfectly preserved under the different coats of paint. This shade corresponds exactly in fact to documents describing it as “linen gray” and “celadon green”.

2. Salon de Musique of
the Pavilllon de l’Arsenal
(after restoration)
Mirror and woodwork
Photo : David Paul Carr/BnF

3. Salon de Musique of
the Pavilllon de l’Arsenal
(after restoration)
Decorated lintel
Photo : David Paul Carr/BnF

Originally, the room was decorated with four mirrors (ill. 2) on each of the walls. Two of them had disappeared along with the frames. These elements have been restored based on the remaining models. This reconstitution is justified as it reestablishes the unity of the ensemble without the slightest reinterpretation. Along with the chairs and armchairs from the 18th century and its four trompe l’oeil (ill. 3) overdoors which have been entirely cleaned, this is one of the most beautiful décors of the Louis XV period [1] now preserved in Paris. The Salon will be included in the visit of the Arsenal where the most important rooms are the bedroom and cabinet of Madame de La Meilleraye, with celings painted by Charles Poerson (no doubt assisted by other artists, as the style varies).

The cost of the restoration totalled 400,000€ funded by patronage from the World Monument Fund Europe [2] from the “programme for restoration of great European interior décors” which also benefited the Grande Singerie at the château de Chantilly.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 7 octobre 2008


[1] It dates from around 1745-1750.

[2] The budget was made possible by two of the WMF’s major patrons, the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve our Heritage and the International Music and Art Foundation. The curtains were produced by Tissus Rubelli, Declercq Passementiers and Tapissier ateliers Charles Jouffre.

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