The Smoking Room
The Smoking Room is a room designed for after-dinner conversation between men in front of the fireplace. While Nélie took refuge in a small sitting room to tell her friends all about her latest discoveries in Italy, Edouard led the men here to discuss business or travels and to smoke in front of a good fire.
All the rage during the Second Empire, smoking rooms were generally decorated in an oriental style. This room follows this tradition, bringing together objects brought back from distant travels. One of the most precious is a mosque lamp dating from the 14th century. In blown glass and enamelled, it enchants visitors with its harmonious shape and its decoration comprising inscriptions punctuated with escutcheons or interlinked with palmettes.
Edouard André had the walls hung with imitation Cordoue leather in papier-mâché and decorated the ceiling with a painting depicting the Dispute of Minerva and Neptune over the founding of Athens, created by a disciple of Tintoretto. The fireplace was brought back from Venice.
As for the English portraits which decorate the room today, Nélie bought these during a long stay in England in 1895, the year following her husband’s death. These were her first personal purchases. This remarkable group of 18th century paintings attributed to Reynolds, Gainsborough and Lawrence recalls Nélie’s taste for the art of portrait painting.