Palais Lascaris

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Room in Palais Lascaris, Nice

The Palais Lascaris is a seventeenth-century aristocratic building in Nice, France. Currently, it is a musical instrument museum. Located in the old town of Nice, it houses a collection of over 500 instruments, which makes it France’s second most important collection.[1]


Palais Lascaris. Postcard, c. 1910

Built in the first half of the seventeenth century and altered in the eighteenth century, the palace was owned by the Vintimille-Lascaris family until 1802. In 1942, it was bought by the city of Nice to create a museum. The restorations began in 1962 and were completed in 1970, when the museum was opened to the public.[2] In 2001, the historical musical instrument collections of the city of Nice were transferred from the Musée Masséna to the Palais Lascaris with the project of transforming it into a music museum.[3] In 2011, the permanent exhibition of musical instruments was finally opened to the public.[4]

Current use[edit]

Today the palace devotes its exhibition space to the permanent exhibit of the collection of historical musical instruments, built around the bequest of Antoine Gautier (1825-1904)[1] · .[4]


The bequest of the collection of Antoine Gautier[edit]

The historical musical instrument collection is formed around the bequest of the nineteenth-century niçois collector Antoine Gautier (1904).

Antoine Gautier was born in Nice in 1825, son of Joseph Octave Gautier, rich wood merchant, and Félicité Rossetti, daughter of the préfet Rossetti and granddaughter of the senator Rossetti[5] Following studies in classics at the Jesuit College (today the lycée Masséna), he became a jurist.[5] An amateur musician, Antoine Gautier played the violin and the viola, and at the age of eighteen founded a quartet with his brother Raymond, in which Antoine played the viola.[6] At that time he began to hold a musical salon and also began collecting instruments in his home on the rue Papacino :

Rue Papacino, we were in the Temple. Everything called for solemn consideration, the large library where the carefully bound and arranged collections were preserved alongside rare editions; the display cases [exhibiting] the gongs, hawaiien guitars, marine trumpets, archlutes, quintons, oboes d'amore, instruments by Maggini or Guarnieri, the four large oak music desks and the imposing Pleyel piano, elicited the visitors' admiration[7] · [8] · [9] · .[10]

Many famous musicians visited his salon, including Jacques Thibaud and Eugène Ysaÿe ; during one soirée in January 1902, Gabriel Fauré performed several of his compositions for piano.[6] In 1903, the Gautier Quartet celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. The following year, Antoine Gautier died at his home, at the age of seventy-nine, leaving to the city of Nice his musical collections consisting of more than 225 instruments and a rare musical library.[11]

The Gautier collection was bequeathed to the city of Nice in the testament of 26 May 1901 and by a codicil dated 8 June 1901. It was accepted by the city of Nice in a special session of the city council, on 19 September 1904.[11] The article of the testament that treats the bequest is succinct :

Wanting to encourage the creation in Nice, the city of my birth, of a well-organised institution of musical education, I leave to the city of Nice sixty-thousand (60.000) francs, as well as my collections of musical instruments and accessories, scores and books music, on the sole condition of allotting six hundred (600) francs per year to a luthier charged with the maintenance of the instruments ; I believe that Mr. Francois Bovis, luthier, would be the most fitting for this task.[11]

Following the Antoine Gautier bequest, the city of Nice has continued to enrich this collection, which has been successively exhibited or preserved at the Musée des beaux-arts de Nice, the Musée Masséna, the Conservatoire de Nice, and today at the Palais Lascaris.

Highlights of the Collection[edit]

Naderman harp (1780)

Among the most important instruments are :

  • a tenor sackbut by Anton Schnitzer (Nuremberg, 1581);[12][13]
  • several violas d'amore by Joannes Florenus Guidanti (Bologna, 1717),[14] Gagliano (Naples, 1697),[15] Johann Schorn (Salzburg, 1699)[16] and Johann Ott (Füssen, 1727);[17]
  • several violas da gamba including that by William Turner (London, 1652);[18][19]
  • a bass violin by Paolo Antonio Testore (Milan, 1696);[20]
  • several extremely rare baroque guitars, including one by Giovanni Tesler (Ancona, 1618),[21] one by René Voboam (Paris, c. 1650)[22] · [23] · [24][25] and one by Jean Christophle (Avignon, 1645),[26] which is one of the earliest surviving dated French guitars;[1]
  • several eighteenth-century recorders, including one by Johann Christoph Denner (Nuremberg, early eighteenth century);[27]
  • an anonymous eighteenth-century harpsichord (formerly a claviorganum);[28]
  • numerous harps : the first prototypes built by Sébastien Érard, including his first single-action harp[29] and his first double-action harp; and a harp by Naderman (Paris, 1780) which formerly belonged to the Viscountess of Beaumont;[30][31]
  • a rare collection of clarinets;[32]
  • numerous experimental string instruments ;
  • several instruments made by Adolphe Sax, including a quartet of saxophones and a saxotromba;[33]
  • French keyboard instruments from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, including a Pleyel piano (Paris, 1863) which once belonged to the Cercle Masséna in Nice;[34]
  • one of the most famous guitars by Antonio de Torres (Almeria, 1884) still in playable condition;[35]
  • a large collection of instruments from the South of France ;
  • approximately fifty nineteenth-century non-European instruments from the Gautier collection.

In 2009, the AXA insurance group placed on permanent loan at the palais Lascaris the Gaveau-Érard-Pleyel Archives,[1] presented to the public in two exhibitions : Érard, l'invention de la harpe moderne, 1811-2011 in 2011[36] and Le Clavier vivant/The Living Keyboard in 2012.[37] This loan was cancelled in 2013.[38]

The historical musical instrument collection of the Palais Lascaris is part of the MIMO (Musical Instrument Museums Online) Project,[39] whose notices are accessible on the site of Europeana.

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d mairie de Nice (ed.). "Palais Lascaris". Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  2. ^ Astro, Charles (2007). Le Palais Lascaris. Edition Nice-Musées. p. 7.
  3. ^ "Projet Scientifique et Culturel : Installation de la collection d'instruments de musique anciens" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-15.
  4. ^ a b Ferrari, Renato. "Nice fait sa nuit européenne des musées ce samedi". 11 mai 2011. Nice Premium. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  5. ^ a b Henri Bernardi, « Antoine Gautier, sa vie et ses activités musicales », dans Musée du palais Lascaris, Aspects des collections d'un amateur éclairé niçois Antoine Gautier, exhibition catalogue (Nice, Palais Lascaris, 18 June - 22 November 1998), p. 15
  6. ^ a b Henri Bernardi, « Antoine Gautier, sa vie et ses activités musicales », in Musée du palais Lascaris, Aspects des collections d'un amateur éclairé niçois Antoine Gautier, exhibition catalogue (Nice, Palais Lascaris, 18 June - 22 November 1998), p. 16
  7. ^ Louis Bonfiglio, L'Armanac Nissard, Nice, 1930
  8. ^ Henri Bernardi, « Salons musicaux, sociétés et cercles niçois », in Nice-Historique ISSN 0028-9698, 2/3 (1994), pp. 71-85,
  9. ^ Josiane Bran-Ricci, « Aspects de la lutherie à travers les fonds d’un amateur éclairé : Antoine Gautier », in Musée du palais Lascaris, Aspects des collections d'un amateur éclairé niçois Antoine Gautier, exhibition catalogue (Nice, Palais Lascaris, 18 June – 22 November 1998), pp. 19-34
  10. ^ Henri Bernardi, « Antoine Gautier, sa vie et ses activités musicales », in Musée du palais Lascaris, Aspects des collections d'un amateur éclairé niçois Antoine Gautier, exhibition catalogue (Nice, Palais Lascaris, 18 June - 22 November 1998), pp. 15–17
  11. ^ a b c Henri Bernardi, « Antoine Gautier, sa vie et ses activités musicales », dans Musée du palais Lascaris, Aspects des collections d'un amateur éclairé niçois Antoine Gautier, exhibition catalogue (Nice, Palais Lascaris, 18 June - 22 November 1998), p. 17
  12. ^ Henry G. Fischer, « The Tenor Sackbut of Anton Schnitzer the Elder at Nice », in Historic Brass Society Journal, vol. 1, 1989, pp.65-74,
  13. ^ Anton I Schnitzer, & Schnitzer. "Saqueboute avec embouchure". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  14. ^ Guidanti, Johannes Florenus. "Viole d'amour". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  15. ^ Nicolo Gagliano, & Gagliano. "Viole d'amour". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  16. ^ Schorn, Johann. "Viole d'amour". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  17. ^ Ott, Johann. "Viole d'amour". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  18. ^ Josiane Bran-Ricci, « Des violes de gambe dans une collection publique française », in Christian Ahrens and Gregor Klinke, Viola da Gamba und Viola da Braccio: Symposium Tage Alter Musik in Herne 2002 (Herne, 2002), Munich, Musikverlag Katzbichler, 2006, p. 243.
  19. ^ Turner, William. "Basse de viole". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  20. ^ Carlo Giuseppe Testore, & Testore. "Basse de violon". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  21. ^ Tesler, Giovanni. "Guitare". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  22. ^ Florence Gétreau, « René, Alexandre et Jean Voboam : des facteurs pour La Guitarre Royalle », in Florence Gétreau, Béatrice de Andia, Instrumentistes et luthiers parisiens', Paris, Délégation à l'action artistique de la ville de Paris, 1988, pp.51-73
  23. ^ Florence Gétreau, « La dynastie des Voboam : nouvelles propositions pour le catalogue de leur œuvre », in Musique-Images-Instruments ISSN 1264-7020, no. 2 (1996), pp. 185-194,
  24. ^ Florence Gétreau, « Recent Research about the Voboam Family and Their Guitars », in Journal of the American musical Instrument Society, vol. 31 (November 2005), pp.5-66,
  25. ^ Voboam, René. "Guitare baroque". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  26. ^ Jean Christophle, & Christophle. "Guitare baroque". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  27. ^ Denner, famille. "Flûte à bec alto". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  28. ^ Anonyme. "Clavecin". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  29. ^
  30. ^ Robert Adelson, « The Viscountess de Beaumont's Harp and Music Album (1780) », in The Galpin Society Journal, LXII (April 2009), pp.159-166
  31. ^ Jean-Henri Naderman, & Naderman. "Harpe à pédales". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  32. ^ Buffet Crampon, ed. (May 2012), "Les clarinettes anciennes du musée du palais Lascaris",, retrieved 25 August 2012[permanent dead link]
  33. ^ Adolphe Sax, & Sax. "Saxhorn baryton en sib ou saxotromba". Europeana. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  34. ^ André Peyrègne, « Nice : Le piano Pleyel grand patron du palais Lascaris », dans Nice-Matin, 29 avril 2012, p. 25 (ISSN 0224-5477)
  35. ^ André Peyrègne, « La guitare du palais Lascaris sort de son silence », dans Nice-Matin, 18 octobre 2010, p. 17 (ISSN 0224-5477)
  36. ^ Musée du palais Lascaris, Érard et l'invention de la harpe moderne : 1811-2011, exhibition catalogue (Nice, Palais Lascaris, 13 May - 17 October 2011) download from the site of the City of Nice Archived 2014-08-08 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ Musée du palais Lascaris, Le Clavier vivant[permanent dead link], exhibition catalogue (Nice, Palais Lascaris, 31 March - 29 October 2012)
  38. ^ "Pétition Nice, musée du Palais Lascaris : une collection d'instruments anciens à la dérive ?". Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  39. ^ See MIMO Project Final Report, pp. 5, 13, 26 and 48. Archived 2013-11-26 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°41′52″N 7°16′38″E / 43.6977°N 7.2773°E / 43.6977; 7.2773