ON September 12 – the week the Paris Biennale returned to the Grand Palais – Paris celebrated another notable development on the city’s art scene with the launch of Galerie Historismus at 9 Place de Vosges, the oldest square in Paris.

Financed by an anonymous English businessman, Galerie Historismus bills itself as the first in the world dedicated to European decorative arts of museum quality, created by the great architects and designers of the period 1840-1910.

Open by appointment only on the first floor of the historic Hôtel de Chaulnes (no 9), works are sumptuously presented and aimed at an exclusive clientele of wealthy serious collectors and museum curators. Certainly the opening stock was of undoubted museum quality, featuring outstanding examples by the likes of Voysey, Ashbee, Mackintosh, Hoffmann and Gaudi. The quality is down to the famed eye of connoisseur and art historian Roberto Polo, who although described as artistic advisor to Galerie Historismus is very much the driving force of the project. He is certainly responsible for choosing the stock and presenting the collection.

Roberto Polo was himself a famous collector, although not previously in this area of the decorative arts. His collection was dispersed in a much-publicised Ader Tajan sale in collaboration with Sotheby’s at the Hotel George V, Paris in November 1991.

By David Moss