Even if the Musée Marmottan, (XVI Arrondissement just on the limit by the Bois de Boulogne) is mainly known and famous by its Monet Collections, it is also, together with the collections of Mario Praz in Rome, mainly a thrilling and passionate major collection of Les Arts Decoratifs of "Le Premier Empire."
Former hunting lodge of Christophe Edmond Kellerman, Duke of Valmy, the Marmottan Monet Museum was bought in 1882 by Jules Marmottan. His son Paul settled in it, and had another hunting lodge built to house his private collection of art pieces and First Empire paintings.
Upon his death he bequeathed all his collections, his town house – which will become the Marmottan Monet Museum in 1934 – and the Boulogne Library's historical rich historical archives to the French Academy of Fine Arts.
In 1957, the Marmottan Monet Museum received the private collection of Madame Victorine Donop de Monchy as a donation inherited from her father, Doctor Georges de Bellio, one of the first lovers' of impressionism whose patients included Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Sisley, and Renoir.
In 1966, Michel Monet, the painter’s second son, bequeathed his property in Giverny to the French Academy of Fine Arts and his collection of paintings, inherited from his father, to the Marmottan Monet Museum. This donation endowed the Museum with the largest Claude Monet collection in the world. On this occasion, the academician architect and museum curator, Jacques Carlu, built a room inspired from the Grandes Décorations in the Tuilerie’s Orangerie to house the collection.
The works acquired by Henri Duhem and his wife Mary Sergeant splendidly completed this fund in 1987 through the generosity of their daughter Nelly Duhem. A painter and post-impressionists himself, Henri Duhem also was a passionate art collector and gathered the works of his contemporaries.
The Denis and Annie Rouart Foundation was created in 1996 within the Marmottan Monet Museum, in compliance with the benefactress' wishes. The Museum was hence enriched with prestigious works by Berthe Morisot, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Henri Rouart.
In 1980, Daniel Wildstein gave the Museum the exceptional illumination collection put together by his father. Throughout the years, other major donations have come to enrich the Marmottan Monet Museum collections: Emile Bastien Lepage, Vincens Bourguereau, Henri Le Riche, Jean Paul Léon, André Billecocq, Gaston Schulmann, Florence Gould Foundation, Cila Dreyfus, and Thérèse Rouart.
The Marmottan Monet Museum owes its creation to Paul Marmottan who bequeathed his significant art collection and his two town houses to the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1932. The town house he owned in the XVI° district along with most of his collection became the Marmottan Monet Museum. His rich library, a part of his art collection, and the town house he owned in Boulogne now make up the Marmottan Library.
The greater part of this collection is dedicated to First Empire pieces for which Paul Marmottan had both an erudite and a collector’s passion. It was completed by the collection he inherited from his father in 1883 who was more interested in art from the High Middle Ages.
His extensive knowledge of the First Empire and considerable financial means allowed Paul Marmottan to bring together an incredible collection spanning a diverse array of mediums from his favorite period: paintings, drawings, engravings, miniatures, medals, sculptures, furniture, bronzes, pieces of porcelain, etc.
Paul Marmottan truly has the merit of having stayed off the First Empire beaten tracks (David, Ingres, Gros, Girodet, Canova, etc.) to devote himself to less renowned artists that are representative of the final decades of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. In this way he honors their work. A large number of interesting artists are thus presented in the Museum collections such as the painters Fabre, Boilly, Gauffier, Carmontelle, Bruandet, Caizac, Mallet, Perin-Salbreux, Paillot, Mongin, Watelet, Demarne, Pau de Saint-Martin, Wille, Bertin, Swebach, Turpin de Crissé, Taunay, Debucourt, Pajou, Franque, Bidauld, Laneuville, Chaudet, Lefèvre, Bouhot, Van Gorp, Vallin, Harriet, Sablet, Vestier, and the sculptors Bartolini, Bosio, Delaistre, Courtet, ect. In the decorative arts, the pieces gathered by Paul Marmottan are signed by the greatest names during the time of the Empire: Jacob, Molitor, Bellangé, Thomire, Feuchère, Ravrio, etc.
Throughout his life and in his will, Paul Marmottan bequeathed many works of art to French museums (about 500 pieces), which show the same characteristics than the collection presented in Marmottan Monet Museum.