Some museum owe their existence to a collector'passion or to the ingenuity of a scholar or of an explorer; others have a much more romantic origin, as is the case for the Musée d'Ennery
In 1881, the fashionable and witty wiclow Madame Desgranges married late in life, the novelist Adolphe Philippe surnamed Dennery (1811-1899), who had been crowned by glory and ennobled by Napoleon he was a most prolific and popular writer, authoring succesfull melodramas and beloved sentimental novels which are today completely forgotten
In order to help her husband's carerr and give sparkle to her salon, but also to invest her fortune, Madame d'Ennery, carried away by a great love for oriental art that was in style at the time, decided to make up a collection of chinese and japanese Art.
She did not actually embark on long journeys but visited the famous antique shops Bing, Burty and Sichel, also nosed about in the "grand magasin"Au Bon Marché or in small exotic boutiques. Gradually, in her luxurious residence on the Allée du Bois so typical of the Napoleon III era, she amassed an interesting collection exhibited in large wooden cupboards inlaid with mother-of-pearl. She ordered herself XVIIIth and XIXth ceramics from Kyoto, so rare now, as well as pieces of Namban Ar(an artistic style resulting from contacts between the Japanese and the Portuguese between 1543 and 1640), including lacquered trunks with humpback lids, inlaid with mother-of-pearl in floral or geometric motifs inspired by the Occident
An interesting point, some of these trunks had supposedly been brought from Japan by an ancestor of Madame d'Ennery who discovered them in the family attic; maybe this was what prompted her attention to Japan At Au Japan art. In the "Bon Marché" department store, Madame d'Ennery found many of big animals, chimeras and strange masks that still decorate the walls, which her guests found so "horrid". She also assembled a remarquable collection of over 300 "netsuke" tlle Tokugawa Period onwards (1603-1837). These precious clasps, often sculpted in ivory, were the only jewels allowed to be worn by men " of the 2nd rank (Samuraï being the Ist rank) A great variety of objects, porcelain of the East Indian Companies, dolls and figurines, carvings of semi-precious stones, ivories and bronzes bring us to the daily life and popular beliefs of China and Japan between the 17th and 19th centuries).
This amazing collection served as a setting for magnificent parties, for the presentation of operas written by Adolphe d'Ennery and composed hy Massenet and Gounod, and even for full-scale reking Opera shows. In the "friendly" audience were the Goncourt brothers and Prime Minister Georges Clémenceau, who donated the Musée d'Ennery to the State in 1907.
For those interested in history as much as in art, the Musée d'Ennery symbolizes life in the last century's "Gay Paris", with trompe-1'il architectural features and large molding stucco. The Hotel d'Ennery stands as a witness to a decisive turn of the Western artistic taste to the emergence of its fascination for the Far East.