Scientific Work on the Hôtel de Beauharnais
Since 2002, on behalf of the German Embassy in Paris, the German Center for Art History (DFK Paris) has been conducting research on the building history, interior design, and collection history of the Palais Beauharnais. Also known as the Hôtel de Beauharnais, the building was erected in 1713 by the architect Germain Boffrand on the left bank of the Seine. In 1803, Eugène de Beauharnais (1781–1824), the stepson of Napoleon Bonaparte, acquired the private residence and in the following years had it furnished by the most important artists and artisans in the style of the early empire. In 1818, Eugène, by that time living in exile in Bavaria as the duke of Leuchtenberg, sold the property together with its furnishings to the Prussian King Friedrich-Wilhelm III. Thereafter the palace was initially a Prussian legation, and from 1862 an embassy. Declared a “Monument historique” by the French state in 1951, the Palais Beauharnais has served as the residence for the German ambassador in Paris since 1968.
More than almost any other building in France, the Palais Beauharnais illustrates relations in the arts between Germany and France since the early 19th century. Between 1824 and 1865, the Cologne-born architect Jacob-Ignaz Hittorf (1792–1867) oversaw architectural work on and alterations to the palace. Karl-Friedrich Schinkel, Leo von Klenze, and, in the early 20th century, the painter Max Beckmann visited the palace. In addition, several historical personalities resided in the Palais Beauharnais during their stays in the French capital, such as Bismarck (who was ambassador in 1862), Richard Wagner (who lived in the palace at the invitation of the countess of Pourtalès), and King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Empress Frederick.
Both its status as a monument and its daily use by the embassy have created a need for scientific work and for a scientifically founded conservation campaign. Alongside the scientific care of the palace, the DFK Paris – with the collaboration of colleagues in France and Germany, and in coordination with the German Embassy – draws up detailed conservation campaigns and shepherds them from a scientific standpoint.
Head: Hans Ottomeyer (former President of the Stiftung Deutsches Historisches Museum)
Associate: Jörg Ebeling (DFK Paris); Ulrich Leben (Consultant in the art-historical supervision of the Furniture and Interiors of the Palais Beauharnais)