Salon Doré of the Hôtel de la Trémoille (detail). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard S. Rheem. 1959.123
The Salon Doré of the Hôtel de la Trémoille is one of the finest examples of French neoclassical interior architecture anywhere. Richly carved and gilded, it was designed during the reign of Louis XVI as the main salon de compagnie of the Hôtel de la Trémoille on the Rue Saint-Dominique in Paris. Its architecture, with giant gilded Corinthian pilasters framing four arched mirrors and complemented by four massive doors, was intended to invoke the grandeur of ancient Rome.
Regrettably, a winding history of relocation and reconfiguration has left this great room wanting. Moved no less than six times between 1877 and 1995, its architectural and aesthetic integrity have been greatly compromised. This year, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco will close the Salon Doré and the adjacent British art gallery to embark on a comprehensive conservation project of the period room.
Over the course of the project the Fine Arts Museums will reinstate the room's original floor plan, restore the gilding and paint, install a parquet floor, proper ceiling, windows, and a new lighting scheme. The Museums will also restore the Salon Doré's character and purpose by reintroducing furnishings of the period, which will demonstrate the room's social function as a salon de compagnie, or a room for receiving guests.
As the conservators and curators undertake this detailed work, their efforts will be on display in a special viewing gallery. Gallery 13 (formerly the British art gallery) will be transformed into an open conservation workshop where you, the visitor, will be able to watch the conservation in action. In addition to the live conservation, extensive multimedia documentation will grant unprecedented access to conservation treatments, interviews with subject experts, and occasional live-streaming of the activities taking place inside the open conservation workshop. Frequent blog posts will take readers behind-the-scenes of the refurbishment of this important architectural masterpiece.
The Museums’ ultimate goal is for the room to appear as it did in the 18th century. More than that, the goal is for the Salon Doré at the Legion of Honor to be a truly groundbreaking museum display, one that will set the high standard for such rooms at other museums throughout the country.