Essential Architecture-  Paris

Hôtel Lambert


Louis Le Vau


1 Quai d’Anjou, 4th.




combined French Baroque  and Classical influences


An entrance gives onto the central square courtyard round which the hôtel is ranged. A wing extends to the right at the rear, embracing a walled garden.


Town House (hôtel) Now Museum.

  "Chopin's Polonaise - a Ball in Hôtel Lambert in Paris", water colour and gouache, 1849-1860, painted by Teofil Kwiatkowski, National Museum in Poznań: the vaulted décor was temporary
Hôtel Lambert is an hôtel particulier on Quai Anjou on the eastern tip of the Île Saint-Louis, Paris IVème; the name Hôtel Lambert was a sobriquet that designated a nineteenth-century political faction of Polish exiles, who gathered there.

The house on an irregular site in the heart of Paris was designed by the architect Louis Le Vau,[1] and built between 1640 and 1644, originally for the financier Jean-Baptiste Lambert (died 1644) and continued by his younger brother Nicolas Lambert, later president of the Chambre des Comptes. For Nicolas Lambert the interiors were decorated by Charles Le Brun, François Perrier and Eustache Le Sueur, producing one of the finest, most innovative and iconographically most coherent examples of mid-seventeenth-century domestic architecture and decorative painting in France. Both painters worked on the internal decoration for almost five years, producing the gallant allegories of Le Brun's grand Galerie d'Hercule (still in situ) and the small Cabinet des Muses, with five canvases by Le Sueur that were purchased for the royal collection and are now in the Louvre, and the earlier ensemble, the Cabinet de l'Amour, which in its original configuation featured an alcove for a canopied bed upon which the lady of the house would receive visitors, according to the custom of the day; significantly the alcove was eliminated about 1703.[2] All ensembles featured themes of love and marriage; the paintings have since been dispersed.[3]

An entrance gives onto the central square courtyard round which the hôtel is ranged. A wing extends to the right at the rear, embracing a walled garden. At the same time Louis Le Vau constructed a residence for himself right next to the Hôtel Lambert. He lived there between 1642 and 1650. It was the birthplace of all of his children and the deathplace of his mother. After the architect's death in 1670 his hôtel was bought by the La Haye family, who owned the other palace as well. Both buildings were then joined and their façades combined.

In the 1740s, the Marquise du Châtelet and Voltaire, her lover, used the Hôtel Lambert as their Paris residence when not at her country estate in Cirey. The Marquise was famed for her salon there. Later, the Marquis du Châtelet sold the Lambert to Claude Dupin and his wife Louise-Marie Dupin, who carried on the tradition of the salon. The Dupins were ancestors to the writer George Sand, who because of her relationship with the Polish composer Chopin was also a frequent guest there of the nineteenth century Polish owners of the property.

In 1843 the palace was bought by members of the Czartoryskis, a mighty Polish magnate family. Two of its members, Konstanty Adam and Adam Jerzy Czartoryski were leaders of the liberal-aristocratic faction of the Polish Great Emigration, which came into being after the collapse of the November Uprising 1830—1831 in Poland. The political group was formed around the latter and his palatial dwelling lent its name to the faction.

The political beliefs of the Hotel Lambert faction were derived from the May 3rd Constitution that the members supported. The Hotel Lambert played an important part in keeping the "Polish question" alive in European politics, by promoting the Polish cause. It also served as a safe harbour for Polish emigrants and royalists, exiled from their country after the unsuccessful uprising against Russia. Among the notable politicians taking part in Hotel Lambert's activities were Władysław Czartoryski, Józef Bem, Henryk Dembiński, Karol Kniaziewicz, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Władysław Stanisław Zamoyski and Władysław Ostrowski.

Initially a political think-tank and a discussion club, with time the political faction also started to work on preservation and promotion of the Polish culture. A Polish language library was founded in the palace, as well as a historical society, two schools teaching in Polish (one for girls and one for boys) and several other notable social and cultural organisations. With time, it became one of the most important centres of Polish culture in the world, especially after the January Uprising, when the Polish language and culture became heavily persecuted in Poland itself.

Among the notable guests and patrons of the Hôtel Lambert were some of the most notable artists and politicians of the epoch, including Frédéric Chopin, Zygmunt Krasiński, Alphonse de Lamartine, George Sand, Honoré de Balzac, Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Eugène Delacroix and Adam Mickiewicz. Chopin's "La Polonaise" was composed exclusively for the Polish ball held there every year.

The Polish library founded in Hôtel Lambert exists to this day, though it was moved to a different place.

In the twentieth century the Hôtel Lambert was discreetly split into several luxurious apartments; it was once the home of actress Michèle Morgan and of Mona von Bismarck and to Baron Alexis de Rédé who rented the ground floor from 1949 until his death in 2004;[4] he entertained there his intimate friend Arturo Lopez-Willshaw, who continued to maintain a formal residence with his wife, in Neuilly: their dinner parties were at the center of le tout Paris. In 1956, at Alexis de Redé's Bal des Têtes, young Yves Saint-Laurent provided many of the headdresses and received a boost to his career. In 1975 the Hôtel Lambert was purchased by Baron Guy de Rothschild, whose wife, Marie-Hélène de Rothschild was a close friend of Rédé; they used it as their Paris residence. In September 2007, an Arab prince from Qatar has bought the Hotel Lambert mansion from the Rothschild banking family in a deal valuing the Parisian landmark at around 80 million euros ($111m).

This impeccable Baroque address is best viewed from the Pont de Sully. From here, you have a spectacular view of the building’s oval wing and long galleries, which rise above a very private walled garden. The hôtel was built during the initial development of Isle Saint-Louis, which had previously been used as grazing land for church cattle. The city was desperate for space: the population was approximately 415,000 in 1637, with only 20,000 residences to house everyone! A bridge to the island was completed in 1635 and the newly-wealthy class of judges, tax men, and other bureaucrats rushed to build mansions here. The owner of this hôtel, Jean-Baptiste Lambert, was a member of this nouveau-riche “noblesse de la robe,” and he hired one of the greatest architects of the time to work on this mansion. Architect Louis Le Vau expertly manipulated the space to seem much bigger than it actually is. His Baroque hôtel emphasizes grandeur, while paying meticulous attention to the effect of light on the facade of the building. The complex floor plan, energetic detailwork, and curves such as the oval wing are noteworthy of the period. Le Vau is an architect who effortlessly combined Baroque and Classical influences, and gave us several public Paris buildings like the Académie de France on the Quai de Conti. Le Vau’s brilliance was not ignored: soon after completing this hôtel, the architect was snatched up by Louis XIV and set to work on Versailles.
Hôtel Lambert

Hôtel Lambert, name (for the 17th century palace on St. Louis Island in Paris bought by the Czartoryskis in 1843) of a liberal-aristocratic faction of the Polish Great Emigration [Wielka Emigracja], which came into being after the collapse of the November Uprising 1830-31 in Poland and was headed by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, and then by his son, Wladyslaw; the policy of H.L. was shaped by a small group of Czartoryski's relatives and advisers; reorganized several times (Society of National Unity [Zwiazek Jednosci Narodowej],1833; Revolutionary-Monarchical Society [Zwiazek Insurekcyjno - Monarchistyczny], 1837, 1839-48), H.L. gathered the main representatives of the Polish aristocracy, rich nobility and higher officers. At first, H.L. supported re-establishing the political autonomy of the Polish kingdom according to the provisions of the Congress of Vienna, and counted on England's and France's support of the Polish cause and on an all-European war; the future Poland was seen as a constitutional monarchy; in fact, however, H.L. supported the dictatorial authority of Adam J. Czartoryski. H.L. maintained loose contacts with a number of rich landowners in partitioned Poland, and delayed formulation of a program of social reforms; on emigration, it attempted to organize Polish military detachments in Algeria, Belgium, Portugal and other places. In the 1840s, H.L. resolved to concentrate on Poland's military struggle to regain independence; and on the introduction of a strong government unifying the society on the basis of the constitution of May 3, 1791. Under the influence of the peasants' revolt in Gali cia and the Cracow revolution in 1846, H.L. acknowledged the necessity for social reforms, particularly the abolition of the corvée and the enfranchisement of the peasants, and saw these as preconditions for a successful, all-Polish uprising against the partitioning powers; an outbreak of such an uprising was contingent upon a favorable international situation, particularly upon a conflict of the western European powers with Russia. H.L. attempted to influence the foreign policies of these powers to wards evoking a conflict with Russia; and to gain support of public opinion in western Europe for the Polish cause through pamphlets, meetings and debates. H.L. developed (particularly after 1840) a network of its own agents in the Balkans, Belgrade, Bucharest and other places in order to weaken the domination of Russia in south-eastern Europe; in Rome its agents attempted to gain Papal support for the idea of an independent Poland. In 1848 H.L. unsuccessfully tried to influence the course of events in Po znania and Galicia; in 1849 attempted several times to mediate between the Hungarian revolutionary government and representatives of national minorities in Hungary in an attempt to create a unified front of these nations against Austria.

During the Crimean war (1853-56) H.L. organized a Polish Legion in Turkey; in 1857-60, it influenced Polish landowners through the journal Wiadomosci Polskie [Polish News], encouraging them to carry out moderate social reforms; in 1860 the Bureau de s Affairs Polonaises was founded within the H.L. in order to coordinate the activity of Polish conservatives both in Poland and abroad. H.L. supported independence movements in Poland, but opposed the January Uprising 1863-64, considering it suicide for Poland. During the uprising H.L. undertook diplomatic efforts to gain support for the Polish cause in Western Europe: in 1863-64 Wladyslaw Czartoryski was the main diplomatic agent of the revolutionary National Government [Rzad Narodowy ] with the English, Italian, Swedish and Turkish governments. H.L. terminated its political activity after 1870.

In addition to its political activity, H.L. patronized cultural, learned and tutelary institutions, e.g. the Polish Literary Society [Towarzystwo Literackie Polskie], founded in 1832 and after 1854 as the Historical-Literary Society in Paris; Polish Library in Paris; and the Polish School in Batignolles, founded in 1842. The archives of H.L. are now stored in the Collection of the Czartoryskis' at the National Museum in Cracow.

The activists connected with the H.L. included: Stanislaw Barzykowski, Jozef Bem, Ludwik Bystrzonowski, Wojciech Chrzanowski, Michal Czajkowski (Sadyk Pasha), Henryk Dembinski, Walerian Kalinka, Julian Klaczko, Karol Kniaziewicz, Teodor Morawski, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Ludwik Plater, Karol Sienkiewicz, J. Woronicz and Ludwik Zwierkowski.

Jolanta T. Pekacz

H.H. Hahn, Aussenpolitik in der Emigra tion. Die Exildiplomatik Adam Jerzy Czartoryskis 1830-1840. Munich, 1978.
-------- "Die Diplomatie des Hotel Lambert 1831-1847," Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas XXI (1973), 345-740.

M. Handelsman, Adam Czartoryski, 3 vols. Warsaw, 1948-50.

B. Konarska, W kregu Hotelu Lambert. Wladyslaw Zamoyski w latach 1832-1847. Wroclaw, 1971.

M. Kukiel, Czartoryski and European Unity, 1770-1861. Princeton, 1955.

J . Skowronek, Polityka balkanska Hotelu Lambert (1833-1856). Warsaw, 1976.

J. Wszolek, Prawica Wielkiej Emigracji wobec narodowego ruchu wloskiego (przed rewolucja 1848 roku). Wroclaw, 1970.


By Lisa Pasold (Special thanks to (French)