Palais Galliera, a duchess’ palace

Palais Galliera
Palais Galliera

Palais Galliera has been home to the Musée de la Mode de Paris – Fashion Museum since 1977.

This elegant palace was built for the Duchess of Galliera.

Born Maria Brignole-Sale Ferrari, she inherited a vast fortune and many properties in the affluent 16th district of Paris, when her husband died in 1876.

The generous aristocrat founded many charities.

These included the Palais Galliera.

She indeed especially built it on a plot of land she owned along Avenue du Trocadéro in order to exhibit her extensive art collections.

She bequeathed the palace to the State at the beginning of the construction work in 1879, so that her collections could be made available to the public.

In exchange she retained the use of the Palais Galliera for the rest of her life (the palace was indeed to become State property after death).

However, legal issues arose as a result of an error made by her lawyer.

The latter had wrongly bequeathed the Palais Galliera to the City of Paris, instead of the State, as she had instructed him.

She then engaged in a political dispute with the French State.

She solved the issue in 1884 by bequeathing her art collections to the Palazzo Rosso in Genoa, her hometown.

As a result, the palace-museum, which she had especially built to present her collections, never exhibited them!

The Duchess died in 1888, before completion of the Palais Galliera, but her heirs funded the remaining work.

Palais Galliera’s Italian Renaissance architecture

The architect Paul-René-Léon Ginain (Prix de Rome) took the palace the Duchess owned in Genoa as model when he draw the plans for the Palais Galliera.

Amazingly, the elegant Italian Renaissance mansion is supported by a metal frame produced in the Gustave Eiffel workshops.

Palais Galliera and Fontaine de l'Avril
Palais Galliera and Fontaine de l’Avril

This architectural style was highly popular in the late 19th century!

Dominique Faccina created the stunning floor and cupolas’ mosaic.

The mansion main facade’s is adorned with elegant statues.

They represent Painting by Henri Chapu, Architecture by Jules Thomas and Sculpture by Pierre Cabelier.

According to the Duchess’ will, the Palais Galleria sits in the heart of a small garden.

Two streets, Rue Brignole and Rue de Galliera, frame the small Square Brignole Galliera.

A couple of statues adorn it – God Pan and Tiger by Just Becquet and Childhood of Bacchus by Jean Perraut.

Pierre Roche created the Fontaine de l’Avril and its bronze statue in 1916; this fountain stands in a circular pool.

Musée de la Mode – Palais Galliera

The Palais Galliera became the property of the City of Paris in 1894.

It later housed the Musée d’Art Industriel, a museum specialized in Art Deco.

Palais Galliera Musee de la Mode
Palais Galliera Musee de la Mode

The mansion was especially converted in 1954, in order to house the Salon des Peintres témoins de leur temps (Painters Witnesses of their time).

These included the most celebrated artists of the era – Chagall, Braque, Buffet, Léger, Matisse, Picasso and Utrillo to name a few!

In the 1960s-70s, the Auctioneers Company used the Palais Galliera as an art works auction house.

The Musée de la Mode, one of the museums of the City of Paris, was founded in the Palais Galliera in 1977.

It displays extensive collections of costumes that range from the 18th to the 20th century, as well as creations of prestigious French fashion designers.

These collections include clothes, but also accessories such hats, jewellery, bags, fans and gloves … and hundreds of fashion photos.

The Fashion Museum is open to the public only during temporary exhibitions; these take place though over several weeks or even months.

The Palais Galliera was entirely restored between 2009 and 2013.

Directions: 16th district – 10 avenue Pierre 1st of Serbia
Metro: Iéna or Trocadéro on Line 9
Coordinates: Lat 48.865294 – Long 2.296883

Photo Wikimedia Commons: Museum exhibition

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