1767-1777 – Hôtel de Saint-Florentin
The “hôtel particulier” (meaning “private urban mansion”) known today as Hôtel de Talleyrand was built between 1767 and 1769 for Louis Phélypeaux, Comte de Saint-Florentin, Marquis then Duc de La Vrillière (1705-1777). As State Secretary in charge of the King’s House, State Minister, State Secretary in charge of Foreign Affairs, and personal friend of the King, Saint-Florentin was one of the most influential figures of the reign of Louis XV.
The mansion was built in the neo-classical style. The elevations of the residence were designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel (1698-1782), First Architect of the King, the designer of the Place Louis XV (today Place de la Concorde), of the Château de Compiègne, of the Petit Trianon in Versailles and of the Ecole Militaire in Paris. The chief interior designer was architect Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin (1739-1811), who later designed the Eglise Saint-Sulpice, the Eglise Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, the Collège de France and the Arc de Triomphe. Chalgrin selected a team including some of the most skilled artists of the period to work on the building’s design: sculptors Guillaume Coustou the Younger (1716-1777), Étienne-Pierre-Adrien Gois (1731-1823), François-Joseph Duret (1729-1816), and Denis Coulonjon, painters Jean-Simon Berthélemy (1743-1811) and Hubert Robert (1733-1808), and master ironsmith Pierre Deumier (1715-1785).
After the death of Saint-Florentin in 1777, the mansion became the property of the Duc de Fitz-James, and in 1784, of the Princesse de Salm-Salm, Duchesse de l’Infantado. It was the home of the Embassy of the Venetian Republic between 1790 and 1794. In 1794, during the French Revolution, it was requisitioned by the Committee of Public Safety to house the Commission on Commerce, and the stables were used to manufacture saltpeter and as an ammunition storage facility. In 1800, the Duchesse de l’Infantado sold the mansion to the Marquis de Hervas.
1812-1838 – Hôtel de Talleyrand
In 1812, the Marquis de Hervas, who in the meantime had been named Marquis d’Almenara, sold the residence to the person who would become forever associated with it: Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. The famous French statesman, who had already bought Château de Valençay in 1803, made the mansion on rue Saint-Florentin his Parisian residence. It became a center of French society and political life.
It is in this residence that Talleyrand hosted the preliminary negotiation talks that would become the basis of the Treaty of Fontainebleau (signed in April of 1814), and the Treaty of Paris (signed in May of 1814), which would pave the way for the Congress of Vienna (September 1814 – June 1815). Over the course of these meetings to negotiate peace in Europe as well as the restoration of the monarchy in France, Talleyrand received King Frederick William III of Prussia, Emperor Francis I of Austria and the Duke of Wellington, the British Ambassador.
Talleyrand’s most prestigious guest during these negotiations was no doubt Tsar Alexander I of Russia, who sojourned in this building for two weeks (from April 1st until April 15, 1814). When the Russian armies entered Paris on March 31, Talleyrand decided to put his mansion at the Tsar’s disposal. Upon welcoming him to his residence, Talleyrand is said to have remarked: “This may be your Majesty’s most brilliant triumph: turning a diplomat’s house into a temple of peace.”
Talleyrand died in this building on May 17, 1838, after King Louis-Philippe had paid him a final visit. After his death, his furniture was transported to Château de Valençay, where it remains today.
In “Choses Vues 1830 – 1848,” Victor Hugo commented: “Into this palace, as a spider into its web, he enticed and captured, one by one, heroes, thinkers, conquerors, princes, emperors, Bonaparte, Sieyès, Mme de Stael, Chateaubriand, Benjamin Constant, Alexandre de Russie, Guillaume de Prusse, Francois d’Autriche, Louis XVIII, Louis Philippe, and all the gilded glittering flies which buzz through the history of these past forty years. All this glittering swarm, fascinated by the penetrating eye of this man, passed in turn under this gloomy entrance bearing on it the inscription: Hotel Talleyrand.”
1838-1950 – Hôtel de Rothschild
In 1838, Baron James-Mayer de Rothschild bought the mansion from Talleyrand’s niece, the Duchesse de Dino, who had just inherited it. The prominent Rothschild banking empire furnished credit to royals and governments during times of war and crisis across Europe. As head of the French branch of the firm, James-Mayer and his descendants entertained in the highest fashion in this and other mansions they owned in France. In 1857, James-Mayer gave 2 rue Saint Florentin to his son, Alphonse-James de Rothschild. In 1906, Edouard-Alphonse de Rothschild, Alphonse-James’ son, inherited it and lived here until the German army occupying France forced him to leave Paris. Thus, the Hôtel de Talleyrand remained the property of the Rothschild family for over a hundred years and three generations. During this long period of time, major construction and decoration works were undertaken, particularly with the extension of the central part of the mansion, between 1868 and 1871, under the supervision of architect Léon Ohnet (1813-1874).
During World War II, the mansion was first requisitioned by the Naval Ministry of the Vichy Government. Then, during the Nazi Occupation, it housed the headquarters of the German Naval Forces (“Kriegsmarine”). A footbridge was constructed above Rue Saint-Florentin to facilitate crossings between the mansion and the main building of the Naval Ministry.
During the Battle of Paris, it is here that, on August 25, 1944, the troops of General Leclerc arrested the staff officers of the German Navy. Artillery damage to the rear of the building, on rue de Mondovi, bear witness to the intense fighting which took place in the 1st arrondissement. After the Liberation, the mansion was briefly used by Maurice Thorez, the Vice-Premier of the Provisional Government.
1950-today – Property of the U.S. Government
After World War II, the U.S. Department of State rented, from 1948 until 1950, then bought, on November 14, 1950, the Hôtel de Talleyrand from the Rothschild family, to serve as the home of the American Administration of the European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan. It was named after U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who, on June 5, 1947, outlined in a speech at Harvard University the United States Government plan to contribute to the economic recovery of Europe after World War II. It is in this mansion that Ambassador W. Averell Harriman, who was appointed by President Truman, headed the American Administration of the Marshall Plan in Europe between 1948 and 1951, and gathered representatives of the 17 participating European countries.
From 1981 until 1984, under the supervision of the Office of Foreign Buildings Operations of the U.S. Department of State and an expert in historic décors, Robert Carlhian, architects Hugh Newell Jacobsen and J. Bruce Smith conducted major renovation works. From 1984 until 2007 the mansion housed several offices of the American Embassy to France, including the Consular Services, the Internal Revenue Service, and the United States Information Services.
From 2000 until 2010, the Hôtel de Talleyrand again underwent major restoration work, managed by the U.S. Department of State in collaboration with the World Monuments Fund Europe. French experts of 18th and 19th century historic décors Robert Carlhian and Fabrice Ouziel undertook extensive historical research. The restoration, accomplished by over 150 French artisans, was financed by private funds from both sides of the Atlantic. In 2010, restoration of the Hôtel de Talleyrand was completed.
Today the diplomatic receiving salons, known as the George C. Marshall Center, have been restored to serve as a venue for official conferences, meetings and receptions. The hôtel particulier is also leased to the Parisian offices of Jones Day, an American law firm.
The Marshall Plan : A Vision of a Family of Nations
The George C. Marshall Center in the Hôtel de Talleyrand houses a unique exhibit honoring the pivotal European contributions to the success of the European Recovery Program (ERP), better known as the Marshall Plan. It took shape over four years through tough negotiations between the Americans, headquartered in the Hôtel de Talleyrand, and the Europeans in their new counterpart organization, the OEEC, the Organization for European Economic Cooperation. It was a short time to change the world—to rebuild after the war, to increase production, modernize industrial and agricultural economies, and lower barriers. As you look around the exhibit, you will see state-of-the-art products and projects—a German camera, an Italian typewriter, a Danish fishing net woven in Italy from American-grown cotton, and a Missouri mule plowing alongside a Greek donkey. These exhibits, images, and much more bear witness to the energy and enthusiasm of the joint rebuilding efforts at both the national and local levels.
The Restoration of the State Apartments as an Atelier for Franco-American Artisan Exchange
French Artisans, as well as the two French Artisan Exchange Scholars, and “Marshall Scholars,” representing the continuing academic interest in George Marshall and the Marshall Plan, will be present at the event and can be interviewed about their work.
The U.S. Department of State and the French-American Cultural Foundation prepared to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan in 2006 by creating an artisan scholarship program, recognizing that artisan crafts are an endangered art with few ateliers, few schools, and few students. Under the patronage of Ambassador Jean David Levitte, $80,000 was privately raised at an event at Gold Leaf Studios in Washington, D.C., to support three gilding artisan exchange scholarships between France and America. A French-American Cultural Foundation panel of expert judges selects qualified artisans to receive the Watin Scholarship for three-month international artisan apprenticeships. The scholarship is named in honor of Jean Félix Watin, who was born in 1728 and worked as a master gilder and interior designer in Paris throughout his life. Several French and American artisans selected through this program participated in the work on the Marshall Center Restoration, and they are present this evening.
Of particular note are two unique objects created under the first French/American Artisan Exchange Program: a gilded frame replica of the frame that holds an engraving of Louis XVI that was presented in December 1791 by the French Ambassador to George Washington, and a restored 18th-century-style console on which Elizabeth Holt, the American Artisan Exchange Scholar, worked under the guidance of Atelier Maury in Paris. The frame will be presented by the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD to that organization, which succeeded the European administrative side of the Marshall Plan, the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC).
The framed scarves to be presented this evening to the ambassadors of the seventeen Marshall Plan countries were designed and produced by the French firm, L.R. Paris, incorporating the flags of those countries, architectural details in the Center’s rooms, and salient words from George C. Marshall’s January 1948 Congressional testimony to urge passage of the legislation for the economic recovery of Europe. A close look at the scarves reveals architectural details of the panels and ceilings of the ten rooms of the Marshall Center. These were the rooms at the heart of activity during the Marshall Plan: the offices of Ambassador Averell Harriman, the Special Representative of the Marshall Plan and the liaison to the European nations
An Overview of the Marshall Center Restoration – Franco-American partnership at its best
The State Apartment interiors have great historical and architectural importance for both France and the United States, in order to ensure a high quality, irreproachable restoration the US State Department Overseas Buildings Operations office commissioned the expertise of Monsieur Robert Carlhian, a well known expert in Eighteenth-century interiors and Monsieur Fabrice Ouziel, interior architect and specialist in Eighteenth-century architecture and décors as historical and technical advisors. The two worked closely together until the death of Mr.Carlhian in August 2001. Mr.Ouziel has continued as advisor to the project.
Valuable historical research was conducted in various archive collections as well as public and private libraries in order to understand the building and its décors. Preliminary tests and restoration research were conducted in the rooms particularly to uncover original color traces and gilding. The findings from this study phase represented the basis on which the technical scope of work was established. A call for skilled artisans was launched in order to select the best firms specializing in restoration techniques for the project. Over 150 French artisans from 30 French firms specialized in restoration contributed to the project. Several experts from the leading French museums also assisted the project.
The George C. Marshall Center encompasses two distinct decorative groups of rooms. One group is the State Apartment of the Hôtel de Saint-Florentin which represents one of the first appearances of what would be later referred to as the style of Louis XVI. The other group combines three beautiful rooms which were added to the original State Apartment in the nineteenth-century by the Rothschild family.
The Minister’s State Apartment, designed for the reception of important visitors, is situated on the first floor of the residence. It consisted of seven official reception rooms representing an exceptional floor plan for French architecture.
The research provided confirmation, contrary to the general assumption, that almost all of the decorative elements dating back to the eighteenth-century were still in place in the State Apartment despite the more or less important alterations and the modifications that the succession of various owners had made to the building.
Historic research and laboratory analysis indicated that the sculpted wood panels in the eighteenth-century rooms were a light gray tone ornamented with gilding. This is quite exceptional since in the late Eighteenth-century, white and gold were more widely used.
Great care has been taken therefore to bring back the color of the glue-base paint that was used and can still be found under multiple layers of oil-base paint. The reviving of authentic water-base gold leaf was also a priority in this restoration program.
Three rooms decorated for the Rothschild family between 1860 and 1872 represent, in their own right, a coherent and “grand” décor of the nineteenth-century. One of the rooms, the Boudoir, contains precious painted arabesques panels from the end of the eighteenth-century.
To complement the restoration of the decorative elements in the Center, various examples of fabrics and furniture have been chosen on the basis of precise archival documentation. The addition of these elements helps recreate the harmony and splendor for which this official apartment was once known.
Cultural Heritage Endowment Fund
Now that the historic restoration of the rooms has been completed, a Cultural Heritage Maintenance Program Endowment has been established to help fund the proper care of the Department’s Cultural Assets and Culturally Significant Properties. Cultural Asset Managers, stationed overseas and regionally responsible for these assets and properties, have been specially trained to assure their proper care. The Portland Oregon Friends of American Embassies held the first fund raiser for this program in 2009.
Marshall Scholars : Keeping History Alive
Angélique Durand (France): I was riveted by my first screening of “Copper and its Alloys,” a 1954 American technical documentary in “The American Films” collection conserved since 1960 by the French Ministry of Agriculture. Intrigued by the roles that the Marshall Plan and U.S. Information Service films played in the political and cultural French-American relations during the Cold War, I determined to complete my basic research in preparation for a doctorate at the University of Versailles-Saint Quentin. Dissertation topic: Visual Propaganda of the American Administration in France, 1948-1955
Altug Akin (Turkey): My Ph.D. dissertation at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, is tentatively titled Communicating Trans-nationally: The case of Turkey. The Marshall Plan films played an important role in post-World War II communications for development, especially in Turkey. I will soon present the initial results of a project on Marshall Plan films at a conference in Hamburg, Germany, and plan to publish a book on the subject after graduation and post-doctoral research in Turkey.
Jeanpaul Goergen (Germany): As a film historian, I have specialized in German documentaries. I have studied and written on the re-education films distributed by the Americans in Germany after World War II, and co-curated a retrospective of Marshall Plan and other postwar films at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival. I am currently involved at the University of Hamburg in a research project of the DFG (German Research Foundation) on 1950s informational films, including Marshall Plan films, that promoted the concept of the unification of Europe.
Regina M. Longo (Italy): PhD Candidate, University of California, Santa Barbara: My father’s close attachment to his family in Italy has strongly influenced me, and my personal and intellectual lives straddle Italy and the United States. My research focuses on Marshall Plan films shown in Italy. They bring to light the continuities and cooperation between Italian and U.S. film industries throughout most of the 20th century. Dissertation Title: Giuseppe in the Factory, Giovanni on the Farm, and a ‘Gun for Gaetano,’ Marshall Plan Films in Italy, 1948-1955: A Project of Postwar Consensus Building
Wesley O’Dell (The U.S.): While studying at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, I became involved with the George C. Marshall Foundation, first as a Marshall Undergraduate Scholar studying George Kennan, and later as a researcher and annotator studying Marshall in the late 1940s. Currently pursuing a Master of Philosophy degree in history at the University of Cambridge, England, I study Marshall’s administration of the State Department. Marshall’s statesmanship is a major inspiration for me as I begin a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University studying International Relations in the fall.
Dr. Maria Fritsche (Austria): I became particularly interested in the Marshall Plan when my research focus shifted from World War II to the reconstruction of post-World War II Europe. I am currently analyzing visual representations of Europe in Marshall Plan films to discern how the medium of film helped promote the idea of a united Europe long before its political realization. The tentative title of the result of my post-doctoral research is The Making of Europe. Visions of Europe in American Marshall Plan Film Productions (1948-1954).
Anne-Lieke Struijk (The Netherlands): During research for my Master’s degree in American Studies at Utrecht University, I became interested in Dutch-produced Marshall Plan films, never before researched. They illustrate transatlantic cooperation and present questions concerning postwar American imperialism. Today, when public diplomacy seems increasingly relevant, the stories behind these films offer an example of the challenges and successes that came along with the economic rebuilding of a nation at that time. Thesis title: Marshall Plan on Screen: Joint Venture or American Imperialism?
“Hugo at the Circus” – The Quest to Retrieve Lost Marshall Plan Films from Obscurity
In late 1949 the Marshall Plan began to promote European unification using various media, including film. One of these, a 1950s series of six short animated films collectively called “Hugo at the Circus,” was all but lost and forgotten.
Early in 2005 Mette Peters of the Netherlands Institute for Animated Films emailed a query to Linda Christenson, an authority on the locations of Marshall Plan films. The Institute had a copy of one of the Hugo films, and Mette asked about any known connection between that series and the Marshall Plan. But Linda had never heard of them and could find no connection.
In early 2009 Linda got an email from Maria Fritsche, an Austrian film scholar looking for Marshall Plan films designed to promote European unification. Shortly afterward, Dutchman Lex Van Delden, Jr., wrote Linda, also trying to track down the “Hugo” films, for which his father had composed the music. Lex had a 1989 letter from the late Marten Toonder, the founder of “Toonder Studios,” confirming a Marshall Plan connection. Aha! Linda suggested that Lex contact Mette, who replied that three of the six Hugo films had indeed been located in the BundesArchiv (Federal Archive) in Berlin.
Coincidentally, Dutch author and cartoonist Jan-Willem de Vries wrote to Lex seeking information for a biography he is writing on Marten Toonder and the films of his studio. Thus began an almost-daily four-way correspondence among Linda, Maria, Lex, and Jan-Willem, with occasional exchanges with Mette and others. Exhilarated by the almost simultaneous convergence of interests, they began a mission to obtain copies of the three Hugo films. The quest was on!
In late April, Maria went to Berlin and, with the help of BundesArchiv staff member Babette Heusterberg, screened the three films. Maria also met German film scholar Jeanpaul Goergen, who had earlier shared the location of the three known films with Mette and who had purchased the only known copy of a fourth one.
Linda and her husband and business partner, Eric Christenson, shared this story with Vivien Woofter, the U.S. State Department’s Historic Conservation Officer in charge of the restoration project of the George C. Marshall Center. Vivien believed the story had a role to play in the Center’s May 25th celebration in Paris. But roadblocks remained.
The 16mm films were old, their color badly faded. They would have to be restored, digitized in DVD format, and their German narration translated. Permission would be required to get preview copies and later to show them—and on and on. And who would support the needed work?
In September Catherine Cormon of the Eye Film Institute Netherlands wrote to offer the Museum’s financial support for the restoration of the films in collaboration with the BundesArchiv! Paul Poelstra of the Toonder Studios and Willem Feltkamp, of the Toonder Heritage Foundation, gave permission for the films to be shown at the celebration.
The films have been rescued from obscurity, restored, and two are being brought to you here. All four will be available for researchers and scholars in the not-too-distant future.
Restoration of the George C. Marshall Center – Hôtel de Talleyrand – American Embassy in Paris – Donors
- The World Monuments Fund in collaboration with:
- Fondation TOTAL
- Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage
- Kress Foundation European Preservation Program
- Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies in collaboration with:
- Mrs. Betty Knight Scripps
- The Florence Gould Foundation
Daimler Chrysler AG
- The Getty Foundation
- FedEx Corporation
- The Frederick H. Bedford Jr. and Margaret S. Bedford Foundation
- Ms. Linda J. Wachner
- French Heritage Society
- French-American Cultural Foundation
- Rothschild & Cie Bank
- Mr. and Mrs. Sid Richardson Bass
- Baron et Baronne David de Rothschild
- Baron Guy de Rothschild
- Mrs. Jack C. Massey
- Hermès International
- M. Claude Sere
- H.F. Lenfest Foundation
- Mrs. Jayne Wrightsman
- Mr. and Mrs. Roupen Gulbenk
- Banque Transatlantique
- The Mary W. Harriman Foundation
- M. et Mme Bertrand Collomb
- The George C. Marshall Foundation
- Portland Friends of American Embassies
- Lafarge North America, Inc.The Honorable Howard H. Leach and Mrs. Leach
- M. et Mme Stéphane Baquet, LVS Antiquités
- Mr. Terry M. Parsons
- Mrs. Margaret Sokol
- The Honorable Craig R. Stapleton and Mrs. Stapleton
- Tishman Speyer Corporation
- M. Michel Doligé
- Cartier International
- The Felix & Elizabeth Rohatyn Foundation
- Ms. Vivien P. Woofter
- Dr. and Mrs. James Ewing
- Caterpillar Corporation
- M. Pierre Bergé
- DHL Worldwide Express
- M. Yves Saint Laurent
- The Achelis Foundation
- The Honorable Walter J.P. Curley and Mrs. Curley
- Mr. Richard K. McKee
- DACOR Bacon House Foundation
- Ms. Alexandra Stabler
- Ms. Elizabeth Agnew
- The Honorable Albert J. Beveridge III and Mrs. Beveridge
- Mrs. Joan H. Colbert
- The Honorable Bruce C. Gelb
- Mr. and Mrs. David A. Kemnitzer
- Mme. Martine Klotz
- Livingston Foundation
- The Honorable James G. Lowenstein
- Ms. Harriet McGuire
- Mr. and Mrs. Paul E. Rowe
- Professor Thomas C. Schelling and Alice Coleman-Schelling
- Richard L. and Jacqueline B. Sellers
- Ms. Hildegard B. Shishkin
- Mr. Richard E. Ford
- Dr. Roger L. and Donah J. Burgess
- R.G. & M.M. Cleveland
- The Honorable John Gunther Dean and Mrs. Dean
- Mrs. Richard R. Hallock
- The Honorable Patrick F. Kennedy and Ms. M. Elizabeth Swope
- Frederick L. and Betty Morefield
- The Honorable Thomas R. Pickering and Alice Stover Pickering
- Ms. Gail Jackson
- Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Kott
- Mr. Allen Decuyper
- Mrs. Mary S. Humelsine
- Ms. Leah London
- Mr. Steve Sirls
- Mrs. Loretta Casey
- Mr. and Mrs. Julian J. Ewell
- Ms. Gabrielle Griswold
- The Honorable Arthur A. Hartman and Mrs. Hartman
- Dr. and Mrs. Jacob J. Kaplan
- Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Krill
- The Honorable George Quincey Lumsden, Jr. and Mrs. Lumsden
- Mr. and Mrs. Raymond C. Malley
- Mr. and Mrs. Frederick G. Mason, Jr.
- The Honorable Robert H. Miller and Mrs. Miller
- Mrs. Waldemar A. Nielsen
- Dr. and Mrs. Eliot Sorel
- Ms. Alexandra Sundquist
- Ms. Ann V. Townsend
- Mr. Keith L. Wauchope
- Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Cross
- Ms. Leila F. Dane
- Mrs. Alfred P. Dennis
- Colonel Harry O. Amos (Ret.)
- Charles and Patricia Bibbe
- Ms. Grace M. Brunton
- Mr. Robert L. Burns
- Mr. William D. Calderhead
- Mr. and Mrs. John B. Chambers
- Mr. John T. Craig
- Ms. Valerie Crotty
- Ms. Caroline Cunningham
- Mr. Ernest B. Dane III
- Mr. and Mrs. Robert Duval
- The Honorable Michael E.C. Ely
- Ms. Shirley G. Fearey
- The Honorable Edward Ridley Finch, Jr.
- Mr. Richard N. Gardner
- Dr. Aleen Grabow
- Ms. Roberta W. Greene
- Mr. and Mrs. Frank Herrera
- Ms. Anne Kauzlarich
- Ms. Wilma LaMee
- Ms. Janine Lydman
- Ms. Susan L. Mills
- Mr. Mustafa Miseli
- Mr. Ned Earl Morris
- Mr. Kevin Lee Sarring
- Ms. Catherine St. Denis
- Mr. and Mrs. Monteagle Stearns
- Ms. Betty Keene Taska
- Ms. Cynthia A. Thomas
- Mr. and Mrs. Morris F. Weisz
- Ms. Sherrill B. Wells
- Ms. Jean M. Wilkowski
- Ms. Sandra Wilson