«Mes enfants»

Avenue d'Iéna

In 1923, when Calouste Gulbenkian took up residence in France’s capital city, he settled in one on the most fashionable and chic districts: the “faubourg de l’Etoile”. The chosen avenue was Avenue de Iéna - one of the 12 axis that radiate out from the Arch of Triumph - where numerous private “hôtels” were built in the last two decades of the 19th century. French architect Paul-Ernest Sanson was commissioned by brothers Maurice and Rodolphe Kahn to design numbers 49 and 51. However, when the proprietor of 51 died in 1905, its collection was sold by auction and the building, constructed in 1897, remained up for sale until Calouste Gulbenkian decided to purchase it in 1923, in order to house his art Collection. As such, in 1927, after a long break, 51, Avenue de Iéna, once again housed an art collection, a collection regarded as one of the finest of its time. According to a design plan approved by Calouste Gulbenkian, the building interiors and exteriors underwent major refurbishment works, thus converting the house into the first museum of his art objects, which he tenderly addressed as “mes enfants”.

Similar to what Calouste Gulbenkian had done on other circumstances, regarding other fields of interest, in order to further improve his knowledge of art displaying, he gathered in his personal library specific sets of books. In addition, he collected other more general books on Architecture, Decorative Arts and Interior Decoration. As far as books on art conservation are concerned, Calouste Gulbenkian acquired Air raid precautions in museums, picture galleries and libraries, The preservation of antiquities, Some notes on atmospheric humidity in relation to works of art and The Conservation of prints, drawings and manuscripts. Other museum studies related topics, such as exhibition design, were dealt with in the periodicalsBulletin des musées de France and Les arts: revue mensuelle des musées, collections, expositions.

The collection of books concerning Architecture, Decorative Arts and Interior Decoration is broader and more diverse, including monographs and classic books. It contains, for example, L’art dans la maison: grammaire de l’ameublement, Des divers styles de jardins : modéles de grandes et petites résidences, Histoire de la céramique: étude descriptive et raisonnée des poteries de tous les temps et de tous les peuples; and Les maîtres ornemanistes: dessinateurs, peintres, architectes, sculpteurs et graveurs. As far as periodicals are concerned, it is worth emphasizing Art et décoration and L’arte : rivista di storia dell’arte medievale e moderna e d’arte decorativa.

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