Renovation works in the courtyard

Over the past ten years, the Fondation Custodia has been carrying out important renovation works aimed at improving the preservation conditions of its collections and honouring the authenticity of its buildings.

The courtyard of the Fondation Custodia, an essential link between the Hôtel Lévis-Mirepoix and the Hôtel Turgot, has now been entrusted to the care of architect Frédéric Ladonne.

Staff and visitors pass through it daily to reach Hôtel Turgot, a genuine remainder of the 18th century constructed in 1743 by the property developer Pierre Salles. It is the only surviving house of a series of seven built along rue de Lille.

Originally adjoining a stable, a coach house and a pantry, the courtyard ground had been covered in concrete in the 1950s to accommodate a car park.

In order to solve recurring water infiltration problems, the director of the Fondation Custodia Ger Luijten together with Frédéric Ladonne, undertook to redesign this 200 m2 courtyard. The aim is to give it an aesthetic aspect that is as faithful as possible to its origin, by using small cobblestones characteristic of the 18th century alternating with large Parisian paving stones covered with grass in the spirit of the 19th century.

We wanted the courtyard to regain its classical rigour which, together with the more poetic character of spontaneous grass and moss, avoids the very mineral and rigid image of the Parisian courtyards, confides Frédéric Ladonne.

We set off together in search of stones and found wonders among the French quarries, continues Ger Luijten.

The 8 steps leading to the front door of Hôtel Turgot will soon be replaced by those freshly cut by the company Les Pierres de Paris in the quarry of La Croix Huyart (Oise).

Long stone benches will be installed under the jasmine and medlar trees, and a bicycle shelter will be set up near the centuries-old water fountain.

I wish to be as faithful as possible to the history of the buildings and seek excellence in the works I have been undertaking at the Fondation Custodia for the past 10 years. This is the best way to respect the legacy of Frits Lugt, our founder, says Ger Luijten.

The work began in November 2020 and will end this summer with the new planting – the prunus and the apple trees have been carefully saved.

The embellished courtyard will welcome the public in the autumn of 2021 on the occasion of the exhibition True to Nature. Open-air Painting 1780-1870 that the Fondation is organising with the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.