The Marmottan Library
Paul Marmottan (1852-1932), inheritor of the de Bruay coal company and creator of consumer cooperatives, seemed destined to a career in industry, administration or politics, but chose to become an "amateur" historian, a collector and a patron of the arts.
In 1932 he bequeathed to the Académie des Beaux-Arts his town house "La Muette" and the Boulogne mansion he had redecorated in the Empire style between 1890 and 1920. Working from architectural journals and making free use of his favourite motifs, Paul Marmottan created an setting that deserves to be considered less as an imitation than as an original creation perfectly suited to his collections and individual sensibility.
In 1883 he discovered his true vocation in hunting all over Europe for items relating to the administration and influence of the Napoleonic era. Thus it was that he acquired books, paintings, prints, objets d'art and furniture from the First Empire, as well as publishing his findings on the period.
The Marmottan Library in Boulogne is now an authentic historical monument, a rare example of a library conceived as an organic whole in which books and setting play complementary roles.
The first-floor office, with its contrasting yellow columns, green walls and mahogany furniture, is a fine, evocative example of the amateur's study, in which every feature is intended to inspire and inform.
Reopened in 1996 after being entirely restored and equipped with the latest research, lecture and concert, the Marmottan Library now draws steadily increasing numbers of historians and visitors.