Nothing in the world is more worthy of seeing and knowing than the rare beauties of Paris.
– Georges Louis Le Rouge, Les Curiositez de Paris, 1742.

Paris on Display: 18th-Century Boutiques, runs until March 24, 2019, at the Stewart Museum. The exhibition invites visitors to take a stroll through the City of Light and explore the finest Parisian boutiques of the period. It features close to 400 artefacts of 18th-century France from the remarkable Stewart Museum collection, including 80 rare books. These objects reflect the commercial practices of 18th-century merchants as well as the quality and range of the merchandise they sold. The exhibition circuit also includes a video of the Bretez audio immersion Project and finishes with a virtual reality experience that lets visitors take a fanciful journey to the heart of historic Paris.


Paris on Display

The Gardener with Apron.
Porcelaine de France, 1755 ©
Stewart Museum

Much like the inquisitive travellers of the times, exhibition visitors set out, guidebook in hand, to discover the capital of the Kingdom of France, one of the most desirable and thriving merchant cities in the West during the 18th century. Stopping along the way to admire an iconic view or building, the visitor explore the three main commercial districts of the period: La Cité, La Ville and L’Université. While ambling through Paris, the traveller experience the bustle of the city through excerpts from urban chronicles, travel stories and colourful expressions. From Place Dauphine to Faubourg Saint-Marcel, the boutiques display their goods according to their specialties.

“This exhibition shows us Paris from a unique perspective, combining the pleasures of travelling, shopping and discovering the rich history of the French capital, with which Montrealers have always had a special bond. The Stewart Museum is the only Quebec history museum with such a rich collection of 18th-century French artefacts, one that stands out for its exceptional quality and breadth. We’re proud to showcase the collection in such an original way,” says Suzanne Sauvage, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Stewart Museum.


Paris on Display

Decorative Clock,
signed François Le Doux, France, 18th century ©
Stewart Museum

In La Cité, a district surrounded by the Seine and endowed with such remarkable buildings as Notre-Dame Cathedral, visitors can explore the workshops of scientific instrument makers and map dealers, notably on the Quay de l’Horloge. In La Ville, a district featuring the luxurious rue Saint-Honoré, the Louvre Palace and the Hôtel de Ville, the Porcelain de France boutique offers up its exquisite pieces. This area is also home to armourers’ shops and Au Chagrin de Turquie, a boutique famous for its prestigious clientele, who included Madame de Pompadour and Louis XV. In L’Université, known for the Collège de la Sorbonne and the Hôtel royal des Invalides, visitors can call in at the boutique Au Petit Dunkerque on the Quay de Conti as well as the book and print sellers along rue Saint-Jacques. Finally, they make their way to the Faubourg Saint-Marcel, where they discover the renowned tapestry maker Manufacture Royale des Gobelins.

The exhibition, with its elegant, contemporary staging, brings together close to 250 decorative and historical objects, 80 antique books, some 60 prints, 20 scientific instruments and a dozen weapons. Among the rarest pieces is an original map of Paris bound into a luxurious atlas that was commissioned by Sieur Turgot, provost of the Paris merchants.

The exhibition also includes a video presentation of the Bretez Project, developed by musicologist Mylène Pardoen, a CNRS researcher at the Institut des Sciences de l’Homme in Lyon. It consists of a 5D restoration of the Grand Châtelet district, where 80% of the background sound environments of Paris in that era could be found. This soundscape, reconstructed through historical documents, transports the visitor to the heart of Paris during the second half of the 18th century.

The virtual reality experience A Paris Snowfall, developed by Studio BLVD, rounds out the exhibition by providing visitors with a view of the French capital as rendered through the art of paper cutting. Immersed in a poetic story that unfolds during a particularly harsh winter, they accompany a fictional traveller making his way through the streets of La Cité.

For more information, including tickets prices and opening hours, visit:

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