At the turn of the 20th century, Moïse de Camondo, the grandson of a powerful Ottoman banker, had it all. Wealth, fortune, family and a passion for the arts which he shared with his brother Isaac. They acquired freely and donated generously. Impressionist works by Degas, Monet, Renoir, paintings by Jongkind and Cézanne, 18th century master pieces of the decorative arts by Etienne-Maurice Falconet, Henri Riesener et Ferdinand Brug, ended up, thanks to them, in the vast exhibition halls of the Louvre (and later the Musée d’Orsay) and the Musée des arts décoratifs. Japanese prints and other Asian objets d’art went to the Musée Guimet.
Yes, the first years of the 20th century were looking bright. But tragedy and loss were near. Moïse’s brother Isaac died in 1911. Six years later, in 1917, his son who had become a navigator in WWI, was shot down by enemy forces. Moïse, up until his own death in 1935, remained overcome with sorrow. Finally, his daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren were killed in Nazi concentration camps, putting a definite and tragic end to a line of enlightened patrons of the arts and philanthropists.
The Musée de l’art et de la culture du judaïsme (Museum of Jewish art and culture) located in Paris’s Marais quarter, retraces the dramatic rise and fall of this family, described as the “Rothschilds of the East” until March 2010.
La splendeur des Camondo, de Constantinople à Paris (1806-1945), Musée d’art et d’ histoire du judaïsme, Paris 3rd arrondissement (métro Rambuteau or Hôtel de Ville), until March 7th, 2010
Cost: 7 euros