Hôtel Collot was built in 1840 in the grounds of the Hôtel du Maine, later the Hôtel d’Avray, for Jean-Pierre Collot (1764-1852), the director of the French Mint, by Louis Visconti (1791-1853), the most famous architect of the day.Hôtel Collot is one of the best-preserved examples of Visconti’s neo-classical architecture, which was influenced both by Versailles and the great buildings of ancient Rome remembered from his childhood.It is located in the heart of Paris, on the left bank of the Seine, near the Musée d’Orsay, opposite the Tuileries gardens and almost facing the Place de la Concorde.Hôtel Collot was the Spanish embassy from 1864 to 1880 and later, in 1923, was bought by the antiques dealer Isaac Founes, one of the most important dealers in French furniture of his time.In 1932, it was acquired by the Société Générale Commerciale de l’Est who used the building for their offices, as well as the proprietor’s private residence, until 2004.
The architect,Louis-Tullius-Joachim Visconti, was born into a famous family of archaeologists.His grandfather was the founder of the VaticanMuseum and his father, Ennio Quirino Visconti, became the curator.Louis was brought by his father from Rome to Paris in 1798 and became a French citizen in 1799 while his father became curator of antiquities at the Musée du Louvre.He studied at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris from 1808 to 1817 under Charles Percier and in 1825 was the architect of the Bibliothèque Royale, now the Bibliothèque Nationale, for which he designed numerous unrealised projects.He also designed public fountains in Paris, such as the one in place Saint-Sulpice.In 1840, he was commissioned to design the decorations for the ceremonial return to Paris of the ashes of Napoleon and the following year constructed Napoleon’s tomb in the Invalides.In 1852, Napoleon III appointed Visconti architect of the palaces of the Louvre and the Tuileries.His project for the new Louvre, with six pavilions extending west from the old Louvre on either side of the Cour du Pavillon, helped unify the immense complex by echoing the pavilions of the old Louvre and the Tuileries and established the French Renaissance as the stylistic model for Napoleon III’s residence.Visconti was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1853 and died suddenly later that year.
Jean-Pierre Collot, the owner, was born in 1764 in Montpelier.A discreet and influential banker and supplier to the French Army, he was a close friend of Bonaparte.As such, he secretly lent him 800,000 gold francs for his coup d’État of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799).Subsequently Receveur Général in Marseilles, he was appointed Directeur de la Monnaie from 1821 to 1842 (director of the French Mint).Collot was a friend of Louis Visconti’s father.They shared the same passion for archaeology and Ennio Visconti once worked in Collot’s official apartments in the Hôtel de la Monnaie.Collot was a renowned collector of his time, his collection including numerous ancient statues and vases as well as important Italian paintings, most of which were bought in Italy during Bonaparte’s campaign.The collection was sold after his death in 1852 at several auctions, including one on these premises.
Galerie J. Kugel has commissioned the renowned Parisian decorator François-Joseph Graf as designer of the project and Laurent Bourgois as architect.Graf is one of the most talented French decorators whose international clients include Baron David de Rothschild, Mr & Mrs Henry Kravis and the fashion designer Valentino.Bourgois’ clients include M. & Mme Ertegun, Mrs Lily Safra, Annie Leibovitz, and Sotheby’s, to name but a few.
Graf’s and Bourgois’ vision is to restore Hôtel Collot to its original splendour and to preserve and restore its remaining decorative elements including its precious marquetry wood floor.Any added decorations reflect Visconti’s original ideas and the Kugel brothers have asked Graf to create rooms with different ambiances suitable for the varying periods of the works of art that are displayed in them.