Certainly one of the most charming museums in Paris, the Museum of Montmartre was founded in 1960. It was built in the seventeenth century as the Bel Air House and is the oldest building in Montmartre.
During its heyday, 12 rue Cortot served as a residence and meeting place for many artists including Auguste Renoir, Suzanne Valadon and Émile Bernard, who held their studios here, as well as the fauve artists Emile Othon Friesz and Raoul Dufy.
The Museum collection is composed of paintings, posters and drawings signed by Toulouse-Lautrec, Modigliani, Kupka, Steinlen, Valadon, and Utrillo. Together, the artworks recount the history of Montmartre, including the innovative studios at Bateau-Lavoir and 12 rue Cortot and the infamous animated cabarets of the Lapin Agile and the Moulin Rouge. The Museum includes an entire room dedicated to the French Cancan, while another features rare zinc plates of dreamlike scenes from shadow theatre such as Le Chat Noir, the first modern cabaret founded by Rodolphe Salis in 1881.
The collection was made possible by the History and Archeology Society “Le Vieux Montmartre”, which itself dates back to 1886.
Just steps from the Place du Tertre, three gardens dedicated to Auguste Renoir surround the Museum of Montmartre. They are named in memory of the impressionist painter who lived on-site between 1875 and 1877, where he painted several masterpieces including the famous le Bal du Moulin de la Galette (“The Moulin de la Galette Ball”), La Balancoire (“The Swing”), and Jardin de la rue Cortot (“Rue Cortot Garden”). The Renoir Gardens offer breathtaking views of the vineyard, the Clos Montmartre, and northern cityscape of Paris.
At the height of artistic creation in Montmartre during the early 20th century, the artist studio situated on rue Cortot served as the site for artists such as the two fauve painters Emile Orthon Friesz and Raoul Dufy, as well as Émile Bernard (Gauguin’s companion), and the writers Léon Bloy and Pierre Reverdy. Suzanne Valadon, famously regarded as one of the first women painters of her generation, initially settled at 12 Cortot in 1898. She later returned in 1912, where she remained until 1926 with her son Maurice Utrillo and her partner André Utter. With respect to Utrillo’s work at the studio, he left behind unforgettable views of Montmartre.
After decades of neglect, the studio has been restored and will be open to the public in October 2014.
The Demarne Hotel will be open to the public for the first time in October 2014. This historic landmark was once the home to Claude de la Rose, the actor from Molière’s troupe whose stage name was Rosimond. It was also within these walls that Père Tanguy, art dealer for several Impressionist painters, lived.
The Demarne Hotel has been completely redesigned to accommodate exhibitions of the highest caliber. The exhibition “The Spirit of Montmartre and the Modern Art (1875 - 1910)” will inaugurate the new space.
In 1886, a group of artists who loved Montmartre and were saddened by the declining standards of architecture during the time, convened at the bistro “Rocher Suisse” situated at the top of rue Lamarck. Together, they formed The Society for the History and Archaeology of Montmartre, “Le Vieux Montmartre”. Its mission is to protect the artistic, historic and ethnological accounts of Montmartre. After the Second World War, the architect Claude Charpentier carried on the work of the association that eventually led to the founding of the Museum of Montmartre in 1960.
In July 2011, the Kléber-Rossillon Company took over the management of the Museum of Montmartre. It launched an ambitious program to expand and restore the site. The project will double the exhibition space, renovate the studio-apartment of the artists Suzanne Valadon and Maurice Utrillo, and remodel the three gardens that inspired Renoir’s paintings on the same subject.