Moïse de Camondo
Moïse de Camondo
|Died||14 November 1935 (aged 75)|
Irène Cahen d'Anvers (m. 1891)
Life and career
As a child, Camondo moved with his family from their home in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, to Paris around 1869, where he grew up and continued the career of his father, Nissim de Camondo (1830-1889), as a banker. He was born into a Sephardic Jewish family that owned one of the largest banks in the Ottoman Empire, established in France since 1869.
Starting in 1911, he completely rebuilt the family's Parisian mansion on the Parc Monceau in order to house his collection of 18th-century French furniture and artwork. Working closely with the architect René Sergent, he created a palatial home conforming to certain 18th-century traditions, even planning the room dimensions to match exactly the objects in his collection. The entryway is inspired by the Petit Trianon of Versailles. The home includes a kosher kitchen with separate sections for meat and dairy. The dining room includes a beautifully-carved green marble fountain in the shape of a shell, with a dolphin spigot for the ritual washing of hands before eating a meal.
Some highlights of his collection include a French silver service that had been ordered by Russian Empress Catherine the Great, a set of Buffon porcelain (with exact reproductions of ornithological drawings) from the Sèvres manufacturer, and perhaps the only existing complete set of Gobelin royal tapestry sketches.
He married Irène Cahen d'Anvers, daughter of Louis Cahen d'Anvers, in 1891. They separated in August 1897 after her affair with de Camondo's stable master, Count Charles Sampieri, whom she would later marry and divorce. The children, Nissim and Beatrice, remained with de Camondo. The mansion was completed in 1914, but his son did not reside there very long, as he rejoined the French Army to fight in The Great War. It had been de Camondo's great hope that his son, whom he adored, would take over the family empire.
Following Nissim's death in 1917, de Camondo closed all banking activities. He largely withdrew from society and devoted himself primarily to his collection and to hosting dinners for a club of gourmets at regular intervals. Camondo died in 1935, and the museum opened the following year. He donated the home to Paris's Decorative Arts society as a museum (Musée Nissim de Camondo) in honor of the loss of his son Nissim in World War I. In addition to the collection, the meticulously-restored service areas, elevator and woodwork of the mansion are noteworthy.
During the German occupation of France during World War II, his daughter Béatrice, his son-of-law Léon Reinach and their children (Fanny and Bertrand) were deported from France and died in the Auschwitz concentration camp. As a result, the de Camondo family died out.
- Le Tarnec, S.; Seni, Nora (2007). "Moïse de Camondo : D'Istanbul à Paris". In Gary, Marie-Noël de. Musée Nissim de Camondo. La demeure d'un collectionneur (in French). Paris: Arts décoratifs. pp. 20–25. ISBN 9782916914039.