The Baroque movement found a new home in the Nice region after leaving Italy at the end of the 16th century. The Niçois region’s architectural, secular, and religious heritage gives evidence to this. The Palais Lascaris or Lascaris Palace is an extraordinary example of Nice’s civic baroque. It is now a museum labeled Musée de France dedicated to art and old musical instruments.
In the heart of Old Town, with its large staircase covered with paintings and richly decorated living rooms with engraved patterns, is Nice’s most notable interior design, Baroque design.
The palace was built in the first half of the 17th century, the history of Palais Lascaris is linked with the history of the Vintimille-Lascaris family, the original owners of the land whom Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy, considered the “princippalissima” of the families of the Nice nobility, and thus its fame. It remained the property of the family until, Revolution in the 19th century. In 1942 it was purchased by the city of Nice and was designated as a historical monument in 1946.
It was reconstructed between 1963 and 1970, and it was finally opened to the public as a municipal museum in 1970. With the dozen ecclesiastical structures in its immediate vicinity, it forms an excellent ensemble that depicts all phases of Baroque architecture from the early 17th to the end of the 18th century.
The Lascaris-Vintmille Family
Lascaris Palace was built for Jean-Baptiste Lascaris (1600-1650), Lord of Castellar, Duke of Savoy’s camp marshal, and descendent of the Counts of Ventimiglia, between 1648 and 1650.
When the Crusaders took Constantinople, Guillaume-Pierre de Ventimiglia’s ancestor married Eudoxie Lascaris, the princess of the Byzantine dynasty, who reigned over the Nicene empire. The Counts of Tendes and other Vintimulus families adopted the Lascaris name and arms because of this connection.
The Lascaris-Vintimille family has produced many knights and dignitaries of the Order of Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Order of Malta.
The old Lascaris-Vintimille family’s Baroque residence, which is a remarkable piece of Nice’s Baroque civil architecture, was transformed into the Lascaris Palace Museum in 1963.
- Tapestries, paintings, sculptures, furniture, and art objects from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are examples of decorative and fine arts.
- Collection of instrumental music
- Fund for Regional Ethnography
The ceremonial apartments on the noble floor allow you to explore the ceilings, which date from the end of the 17th century and are embellished with mythological murals or stucco embellishments.
The Antoine Gautier legacy is also housed at the Palais, which houses the second-largest collection of European scholarly musical instruments in France and is one of the best in Europe.
On the piano nobile (main floor), the Appartements d’Éparat (reception apartments) invite you to explore their ceilings, which feature mythological frescoes and stucco work from the late 17th century, as well as the permanent collection, which focuses on the 17th and 18th centuries and includes paintings and graphic arts, sculptures, furniture, and objets d’art, as well as tapestries from Aubusson and Flanders.
The Antoine Gautier estate’s remarkable collection of antique musical instruments, which is France’s second-largest public collection after the Musée de la Musique in Paris and one of Europe’s largest, is also housed at the Palais Lascaris. In 2013, the Institut de France made a significant donation to the Museum: a collection of musical instruments once owned by Gisèle Tissier-Grandpierre, a well-known harpist and Gabriel Fauré’s acquaintance.
A stunning visual impression is enhanced by an imposing arched vestibule at the entryway, which is covered with patterns in lively tones. The temporary exhibition rooms on the first level are accessed via a massive stairwell surrounded by arcaded galleries and adorned with statues.
The second level, known as the noble floor, features original painted fresco decorations from the middle of the seventeenth century in its staterooms. Statues and rock living room ornamentation are added in the 18th century.
The walls of the museum are covered in Flemish and Aubusson tapestries, and the various rooms are equipped with 17th and 18th-century furniture. The impact and mission of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem are commemorated in many religious artworks. The Lascaris-Vintimille family left a legacy of religious artifacts, particularly reliquaries, to future generations.
All of this leads to it being one of Nice’s most beautiful palaces. The palace’s exhibition hall is currently devoted to a permanent display of the palace’s collection of old musical instruments, which was left by the famed Nice family. Gautier, Antoine (1825-1904).