Paris Travel Planner   Cognacq-Jay Museum, Paris
If you like 18th century art, this is the place for you!

 Cognacq-Jay Museum, Paris
Statue of Venus, by François-Marie Poncet.



The Cognacq-Jay Museum is one of the museums of the City of Paris, and admission to its permanent collection is free. It is a private collection bequeathed to the City of Paris by Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, founders of the Samaritaine department store.

The couple came from modest backgrounds and were generous philanthropists, using their fortune to better the lives of their employees and others. About 1900, they started collecting art, with an emphasis on the 18th century as well as some of the contemporary artists, including Renoir and Manet.

Upon his death in 1928, Ernest Cognacq donated the portion of his collection that focused on the 18th century—specifically during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI—to the City of Paris. Originally housed in a building adjoining La Samaritaine de Luxe, the collection was moved to the Marais in 1981, when the Samaritaine buildings were sold. It is now located in one of the oldest hôtels particuliers in the Marais, the Hôtel Donon. This lovely building enhances the collection and provides is a delight to wander through.

Cognacq-Jay Museum, Paris
Lovely room and furnishings, Cognacq-Jay Museum.

Graceful scuptures such as the statue of Venus greet the visitor, and glass enclosed cabinets in some rooms present small statues and elegant displays of period china. Paintings by Canaletto, Tiepolo, Boucher, Boilly, and other 18th century masters adorn the walls. Elegant furniture made by renowned cabinet makers is found throughout the museum.

One noteworty exception to the 18th century focus is an early painting by Rembrandt, L'Anesse de Balaam (the Ass of Balaam). The painting tells the old testament story of Balaam, a prophet of Moab, who had been sent by King Balak to curse the Jews. The painting depicts the ass falling under Balaam, at which point the angel of the Lord gave the ass the power of speech. The ass then convinced Balaam not to curse the Israelites, and he returned home changed.

The Cognacq-Jay Museum is about a 3 minute walk from the Carnavalet Museum, another free museumowned by the Cty of Paris. It's also a short stroll from the lovely Place des Vosges and the Rue des Rosiers, a great place if you'd like a fallafel lunch.

The Cognacq-Jay offers free admission. Closed Monday.

Métro: Saint-Paul or Chemin-Vert
Bus: 29, 69, 76, or 96

Cognacq-Jay Museum
8, rue Elzevir
75003 Paris
+33 (0)1 40 27 07 21

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  Cognacq-Jay Museum, Paris

Above, View of the Canal of Santa Chiara, Venice, by Canaletto (~1730).

Below, L'Anesse de Balaam, by Rembrandt (1626).

Cognacq-Jay Museum, Rembrandt, Paris



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