The Musée Cluny in Paris – A trip to the Middle Ages


Push the door of the Musée Cluny, is first to enter a unique building that meets in the heart of Paris two prestigious buildings: the Gallo-Roman baths of Lutetia, built in the late first century, and the Hôtel des abbés de Cluny built in the late fifteenth century.

It is also access to a major collection of works from a broad geographical area extending from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia and the British Isles. Colorful, diverse, sometimes bizarre, the collections include paintings, sculptures, tapestries, stained glass, silverware or ivory, and offer a rich panorama of the history of art.

The Lady and the Unicorn, tapestry with a romantic story a thousand times celebrated, sculptures of the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris and the windows of Sainte-Chapelle, or the Rose and the Basel golden altar are some of the masterpieces that are kept there.

The medieval garden offers a nice extension to the visit and establishes a connection between the original collections, the building and the urban environment.


History of the Baths

The Bath of Cluny

The palace of the Thermes, or hot baths, served at the same time also as a citadel, it was built probably in the time of Emperor Constantius, the Caesar in Gaul, the conqueror of England, who lived from 287 to 292 AD in Lutèce.

In the year 360, the Caesar Julian the Apostate was in this same palace proclaimed Augustus, that is to say emperor by the army and the people and he fastened his fame, as it is commonly called the Baths of Julian. After him, the emperors Gratian and Valentinian spent the winter.


History of the Hôtel de Cluny

This building, started in 1485 by Jean de Bourbon, abbot of Cluny, continued in 1490 by his successor Jacques d’Amboise, was completed in 1514. It has one of the most elegant monuments ever produced by Gothic art on the eve of the next evolution in the Renaissance inspirations.

It was in this house that the abbots of Cluny nobles were hosting the crowned heads; first it was Mary of England, sister of Henry VIII and widow of Louis XII; she left her name to the chamber of the white queen to remind that the widows of the kings of France were mourning in white; Jacques then king of Scotland, who celebrated his marriage to Madeleine de France, daughter of Francis I, and the princes of Guise, the papal nuncios, etc.

Became national property in 1790, the Hôtel de Cluny was sold to Dr. Baudot, then to Mr. Leprieur, a large Paris bookseller, who installed their stores. In 1833, Mr. Sommerard the son of a rich business man, gather old masterpieces, weapons, costumes, manuscripts, ceramics, statues, paintings, fabrics and jewels for his personal collection, and he decided to install his valuable collection in the Hôtel de Cluny. At his death, the hotel and the collection are purchased by the State, the museum was born.

Alexandre du Sommerard

Mr. Sommerard son, worthy collaborator and continuer of the work of his father, died after serving until his last day as curator of the National Museum of Cluny.


All information about the Musée Cluny is on CITIBREAK


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