Musée de Cluny, Cluny, Paris

MUSEE DE CLUNY. — Salle des Émaux
(Room of Enamels)
Publisher: Levy Sons & Co. (1895-1919)

Google Street View (exterior).

The Musée de Cluny, also known as Musée national du Moyen Âge – Thermes et hôtel de Cluny (“National Museum of the Middle Ages – Cluny thermal baths and mansion), is a museum of the Middle Ages in Paris, France. It is located in the Latin quarter in the 5th arrondissement of Paris at 6 Place Paul-Painlevé, south of the Boulevard Saint-Germain, between the Boulevard Saint-Michel and the Rue Saint-Jacques. The Hôtel de Cluny is partially constructed on the remnants of the third century Gallo-Roman baths known as the Thermes de Cluny, thermal baths from the Roman era of Gaul. The museum consists of two buildings: the frigidarium (“cooling room”), within the vestiges of the Thermes de Cluny, and the Hôtel de Cluny itself, which houses its collections.

The Musée de Cluny is an extremely valuable collection of medieval products of art and industry. As there are over 11,000 objects, one visit will hardly suffice for even a glance at the most important. . . . The entrance is at 24 Rue Du Sommerard. The court is enclosed by a battlemented wall. We enter by a large gate or by a postern, both adorned with tasteful sculptures. The main building and the wings have Gothic windows with stone mullions, an open-work parapet, and dormer-windows of delicate execution. In the centre of the facade rises a turret. The left wing has four large Gothic arcades. In the right wing is the entrance to the garden. The door of the museum is at the right angle of the main building.
[continues with room by room description]
Paris and environs, with routes from London to Paris : handbook for travellers, 1913, pp.280+

In the Middle Ages, enamelling was one of the main techniques used to decorate gold and silver work. Enamel consists of powdered glass, coloured using metal oxides (cobalt, copper, iron, etc.) and usually rendered opaque. Applied on top of metal (gold, silver or copper), it becomes liquid when fired and solidifies onto the metal when it cools down. Either opaque or translucent, enamels, which were an ideal tool for decoration or narration, were extraordinarily popular in the Middle Ages, due to their brilliance and colours. Almost all enamelling techniques were invented or developed in medieval times.
Musee de Cluny: Enamels in the Middle Ages (pdf)

Musee de CLUNY – Grille de clôture de l’église d’Augerolles, Puy-de-Dôme, commencement du XVIme siècle
(Enclosure from church of Augerolles, Puy-de-Dôme, 16th century)
Publisher: Levy Sons & Co. (1895-1919)

The furniture of the Middle Ages must be divided under two different heads; the most important examples are evidently those for religious use. . . . We shall dwell but little, however, on this branch of furniture, which diverges slightly from the special object of this study; it will be sufficient for us to point out the types in our museums which exhibit its characteristics. First of all we shall mention the sumptuous sacristy “dressoir,” or sideboard, preserved at Cluny, taken from the church of Saint Pol-de-L6on. . . . A no less important piece of the same period is the carved woodwork grating forming the enclosure of one of the chapels of the church of Augerolles (Puy-de-Dôme).
History of Furniture, 1878, image 44

MUSEE DE CLUNY. — Nef dite de Charles Quint. Pièce d’horlogerie. — Allmagne XVI siècle
(Nef of Charles Quint. Timepiece. Germany 16th Cenury [automaton])
Publisher: Levy Sons & Co. (1895-1919)

Video of nef

Page from Musée national de la Renaissance (in French)

Ships were prized ornaments decorating the tables of kings and lords into the 16th and 17th century. The first “nefs” or ship-models mentioned in the literature acted as votive offerings. Thus, in 1254 the French royal family was caught in a terrible storm in the Mediterranean crossing back from the Holy Land. According to the chronicler, Sieur de Joinville, the Queen afterwards presented the church, St. Nicolas-de-Port with a silver ship-model, which was made in Paris. And the model showed the ship, the king, the Queen, their three children, the sailors, the mast, the tillers, and the ropes; and the sails “were all sown with silver wire”, Joinville wrote.

However, in the 14th century, models of ships became fashionable as table decorations. The earliest depiction of a table laden with a ship is from 1327. . . As trading vessels were seldom privately owned, but rather the property of shipping companies, flaunting models of ships at the centre of tables at banquets also came to symbolise the commonality of the networks involved in this international business. While some nefs were small, others were so huge that they would overpower the person, of which they were placed in front. Also, they might differ as to the phantasy involved in their creation.

A couple of these realistic nefs were even more elaborate as they were turned into automata. One such nef is currently in the British Museum, while another is kept in the Musee de la Renaissance at Ecuen. This latter ship is a mechanical wonder believed to have belonged to the emperor, Rudolph II (1552-1612) and goes under the name of “De Charles Quint”. Both ships appeared to have belonged to Charles the V, who sits enthroned directly beneath the mainmast. . . . Both of these ships were created by the goldsmith Hans Schlotheim, a clockmaker born in Naumburg but settled in Augsburg, where he became Meister in 1576. After 1586, Schlotheim was invited to work in Prague and Dresden, where he built the Tower of Babel and the Christmas Crib Automaton. Both ships are exceptionally large, each measuring almost a cubic meter and made of nearly solid gilded silver. They represent a fortune, and it is unlikely Schlotheim created the ships as pure advertising. He must have had a patron. Also, both ships are vivid enactments of the coronation of Charles V, intended to underwrite the shaky foundation of his grandson Rudolph II.
Medieval Histories: Ships as Table Decorations in the Middle Ages

Musee de CLUNY. — Intérieur du Palais des Thermes, commencement du IVme siècle.
(Interiror of the Palace Baths)

Hôtel de Cluny which occupies the site of a Roman palace said to have been built by Emp. Constantius Chlorus in 292-306. Julian was proclaimed emperor bv his soldiers here in 360; and this was the residence of the early Prankish monarchs until they migrated to the Cité. The only relics of the palace are the ruins of its Thermes, or baths.
. . .
The Thermes, or ruins of the baths of the emperors’ palace adjoin the Boul. St-Michel and are entered from Room IX on the ground-floor. The fact that the largest hall, the Frigidarlum, or chamber for cold baths, measures 65½ by 37½ ft., and 59 ft. in height, will convey some idea of the imposing dimensions of the ancient palace. All the antiquities here are from Paris and its environs. We learn from an inscription on a mutilated Roman altar, dedicated to Jupiter, that in the time of Tiberius (d. 37 A.D.) there already existed a corporation of Parisian watermen (Nautas Parisiaci). In the centre is a Gallo-Roman altar. To the left, a statue of Emp. Julian. On the right, on the site of the piscina or swimming-bath, is a Gallo-Roman mosaic. At the side are tombstones of Grand Masters of the Order of St, John.
Paris and environs, with routes from London to Paris : handbook for travellers, 1913, pp.280 & 288

The building is not exactly dated, but it was established that the baths were built on a location previously occupied by GalloRoman houses, making it therefore
impossible to date them back to the very early stages of the urban development of Lutetia. They may have been built around the late 1st century AD or the second half of the 2nd century and remained in use until the late 3rd century or the early 4th century.

. . .
Although they can be viewed from the outside of the museum, the remains of the GalloRoman «thermes (public baths or thermae) of Cluny, also called the ‘Northern Baths’, look even more impressive once inside the building and are amongst the most prominent baths preserved outside of the Mediterranean region.The structures preserved on the museum site only account for a small portion of a once much bigger ensemble which occupied an entire block of the ancient urban layout. The latter would form a rectangle of about 111,5 meters in length and 90 meters in width in between the boulevard Saint-Germain in the north, the rue des Écoles in the south, the boulevard Saint-Michel in the west and the rue Saint-Jacques in the east. Several significant elements from this thermal complex were preserved, among which the western palaestra (gymnasium) with its wall lined with arcades, the caldarium (hot room) , another room also equipped with two furnaces and the frigidarium (cold room), located at the heart of the building.

Musee de Cluny: The Thermes de Cluny (PDF)

CLUNY. — Salle des Thermes.
(Room of the Baths)
Publisher: Levy Sons & Co. (1895-1919)

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