Hôtels Turgot and Lévis-Mirepoix

121 rue de Lille: two hôtels particuliers

Hôtel Turgot is a genuine reminder of the eighteenth century, surrounded as it is by buildings of the Haussmann period. It was constructed in 1743 by the property developer Pierre Salles, and is the only surviving house of a series of seven built in the rue de Lille.

Inventory after the Death of Mr Turgot, Minister of State, 27 March 1781
inv. 2016-A.5

Opening on to the rue de Bourbon (now rue de Lille), a building at the front used to contain a stable for fifteen horses, a coach house for four carriages, a servants’ hall and adjoining chamber. Above these was a hay loft. The kitchens occupied the right wing, with a ‘handsome staircase leading to the main portion of the double building, between the courtyard and the garden, giving on to the rue de l’Université’. This is the part of the building we know today and which houses the collections of the Fondation Custodia. When the house was built, the ground floor contained two antechambers, a drawing room, a bedroom, a closet and a wardrobe. The layout has hardly changed. The first floor was laid out in the same manner, while the attics provided bedrooms for the domestic servants.

Inventory after the Death of Mr Turgot, Minister of State, 27 March 1781
inv. 2016-A.5

The house gets its name from Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, comptroller of finances to Louis XVI, who died there on 17 March 1781. He was the son of Michel-Etienne Turgot, the man who commissioned the celebrated map of Paris in 1734. Turgot was a noted humanist and a contributor to the Encyclopédie of Diderot and D’Alembert. For more about Turgot, see: E-Newsletter n° 9, March 2017, p. 7.

After 1836, the house became the property of the Crillon family, then their descendants, the Lévis-Mirepoix.

Hôtel Lévis-Mirepoix

In 1895 the Comte de Lévis-Mirepoix commissioned the architect Louis Parent to design him a five-storey building to replace the existing outbuildings, on the street. Offering more comfort and more adaptability than Hôtel Turgot on the far side of the courtyard, it contained a private apartment for the Count on the first floor. The Countess occupied an apartment on the second floor, the third and fourth floors were the realm of staff and linen rooms.

Both residences were sold in 1928 to the Duchesse d’Estissac de la Rochefoucauld, from whom the collector and art historian Frits Lugt (1884-1970) and his wife To Lugt-Klever (1888-1969) bought them in 1953 in order to establish there the Fondation Custodia, founded in 1947.

From 1953 to the present day

From this time on, Hôtel Turgot housed the Dutch couple’s collection of works of art. Lugt carried out extensive building work and imported decorative furnishings from the Netherlands for the different rooms. The atmosphere of the ‘Dutch Salon’ was inspired by the paintings of Johannes Vermeer or Pieter de Hooch, with the kind of tiled fireplace to be found in Dutch paintings of the Golden Age.

Since 2016, the technical installations and conservation mechanisms have been gradually adapted to today’s requirements, without any harm or disrespect to the intentions of the founders. The interior decoration is treated with particular care and shows off the collection to best effect; the LED lighting makes an important contribution to the calm, thoughtful atmosphere. The authenticity of the furnishings and the works of art in the different areas is of prime importance, lending every visit to the collection its very special flavour.

  • Esaias Boursse (Amsterdam 1631-1672 at sea)
    Old woman doing needlework Panel, 28.5 × 22.3 cm inv. 5471

From 1959 to 2013, Hôtel Lévis-Mirepoix housed the Institut Néerlandais, the Dutch cultural centre set up by Frits Lugt. In the building today the first floor and basement contain the exhibition galleries of the Fondation Custodia; the art history library is on the fourth floor. The second and third floors are occupied respectively by the Atelier Néerlandais and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

With its garden, 121 rue de Lille provides a haven of peace in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.

Source: La rue de Lille, Délégation à l’Action Artistique de la Ville de Paris, Société d’Histoire et d’Archéologie du VIIe arrondissement; exhibition at the Institut Néerlandais from 7 to 28 February 1983.