As promised, yesterday we went to the Musée Nissim de Comando, one of our favorites. First, a little background on this gem.
Möise de Comando, born in 1860 in Istanbul into a wealthy Jewish banking family, moved with the family bank to Paris in the early 1900s. He became a passonate collector of furniture and art of the late 1700s; he believed that era was the most refined in history. Given his wealth and passion, he was able to build the finest collection of art and furniture of the 1700s in the world. In 1911 he decided to tear down the mansion in which he lived near Parc Monceau (this area was then one of the priciest in Paris and and remains so), and build a 1700s style house so he could live in, use and display his collection. When he died in 1935, he willed the house and collection to Paris; it is named after his son, killed in World War I.
Laurie and I love to visit places that have rooms restored or maintained in period style (any period, really). Musée Nissim de Comando is the apex of this type of museum; built in the 1900s and maintained since, it is essentially a perfect representation of the house of a wealthy family from the late 1700s. This was our second visit and we appreciated it more this time. I think last time we were gobsmacked by the place; this time we were able to absorb it better.
Here’s the house, from its courtyard. I could guess the house has about 12-15,000 sq ft, not including servants’ quarters. The house had between 10 and 15 full-time servants at any given time.
Without further ado, some pictures of the rooms of this mansion.
The Sitting Room:
One view of the Library. The windows look out on a beautiful garden and, beyond the garden, Parc Monceau.
The living room, above, has more furniture and objects d’art in it than when de Comando lived here, to show his collection better. Most of the other rooms are as when the family was here.
As if the rooms and the furniture weren’t enough, here are some pictures of the details in the house which were, of course, perfect everywhere.
Now, it would be nice to say that Moïse de Comando lived happily every-after in this house of his dreams, but no. In his early 40s, he married a much younger woman and had two children. She then left him for an Italian count. Moïse was completely devoted to his two children and when his son was killed in World War I, he pretty much withdrew from the world. His brother, who had run the family bank, died, and Moïse, having no desire or need to run the bank, closed it down. He continued his collecting and particiated in several organizations devoted to collecting and books. He died in 1935, which may have been for the best, because in 1941 his daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren were deported to Auchwitz, where they died. Today, the de Comando family line no longer exists.
But this beautiful house stands as a monument to Moïse de Comando’s passion (and his financial ability to indulge that passion). We think this is the best of the “small, specialized” museums in Paris, we will certainly visit it again, and we honor Moïse de Comando for what he collected and built.