Salon Doré from the Hôtel de La Trémoille (detail). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard S. Rheem. 1959.123
The Salon Doré from 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 large gilded Corinthian pilasters framing four arched mirrors and complemented by four massive doors, points to the influences of classical architecture on the art and design of this period.
Regrettably, a winding history of relocation and reconfiguration has left this great room wanting. Moved no fewer than six times between 1877 and 1995, its architectural and aesthetic integrity has been greatly compromised. This year, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has closed 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 is reinstating the room's original floor plan, restoring the gilding and paint, and installing an 18th-century parquet floor, a coved ceiling, windows, and a new lighting scheme. This restoration brings new focus to the room's character and purpose by reintroducing furnishings of the period, which demonstrate the room's social function as a salon de compagnie, or a room for receiving guests.
The conservators' and curators' efforts are on display in a special viewing gallery. Gallery 13 (the British art gallery) has been transformed into an open conservation workshop where museum visitors are able to watch the conservation in action. Extensive multimedia documentation grants unprecedented access to conservation treatments, including interviews with experts and occasional live-streaming of the activities taking place inside the open conservation workshop. Frequent blog posts take readers behind the scenes of the refurbishment of this important architectural masterpiece.
The Museums’ ultimate goal is for the room to appear as a modern interpretation that resembles as closely as possible its original appearance in the 18th century. When it reopens in early 2014, the Salon Doré at the Legion of Honor will be a truly groundbreaking museum display that will set a new standard for American period rooms.
Donors to the Renovation of the Salon Doré
Major Patrons: Cynthia Fry Gunn and John A. Gunn in memory of John E. Buchanan, Jr. Corporate Sponsor: Breguet. Patrons: Jamie and Philip Bowles, the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Staffan Encrantz, The European Decorative Arts Council, The Fifth Age of Man Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Goss II, F. Scott Gross and Terry Gross, Mr. and Mrs. William Hamilton, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Françoise and Andrew Skurman, Mr. Benjamin Steinitz in memory of Bernard B. Steinitz, The Michael Taylor Trust, and Diane B. Wilsey. Patron Gifts in Memory of John E. Buchanan, Jr.: Mr. and Mrs. Adolphus Andrews Jr., The Kimball Foundation, Jeannik Méquet Littlefield, Denise Littlefield Sobel, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Osher, Constance Crowley Peabody, and Lonna Wais.