The French Museum of the Middle Ages, located in the heart of Paris, is nestled in the Hôtel de Cluny, a very beautiful 15th century private mansion.

The building, which houses the abbots of the Order of the same name in the 13th century, is used by the Catholic Church until the 17th century and then serves as premises for a printer-bookseller, who sets up his presses in the chapel.

During the French Revolution, the mansion is seized as a national property and undergoes transformations and degradations.

Alfred du Sommerard, an art collector passionate about the Middle Ages, sets up his collections there, which are acquired by the French State in 1843. His son, Edmond du Sommerard, is appointed first director of the museum.

He develops the collections so well that they go from 1434 to more than 10,000 pieces. In particular, he acquires the tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn, a masterpiece of six pieces dating from the beginning of the French Renaissance era.

The hotel is one of the oldest Parisian vestiges of flamboyant Gothic architecture, with a courtyard and a garden. As a result, the place is surprisingly peaceful.

The collections presented by the museum are immense and include sculptures, goldsmithery and enamelware, stained glass and tapestries.

The Middle Ages era perhaps owes its name to the men of the Renaissance who considered it as a dark and barbaric period, but the perfect and diverse artistic mastery of the men of that time is obvious, whether it is exercised on stone, metal, enamels, glass or fabric. Bright colors run through all the art works and it is remarkable.

December 9, 2022

Cluny website