Ulrich Leben delivered a Françoise and Georges Selz Lecture on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at 6 pm. His talk was entitled “A Parisian Residence of the Early Empire: The Hôtel Beauharnais—A Singular Manifestation of Empire Style in Paris.”

Ulrich Leben is an independent art historian based in Paris and Associate Curator for the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire. He teaches classes on French and German decorative arts and interior architecture for the European programs of Parsons, The New School. From 2010–15 he was Visiting Professor and Special Exhibitions Curator at Bard Graduate Center, where in 2013 he co-curated the exhibition Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. After an apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker in Germany he studied the History of Art at the École du Louvre in Paris and received his PhD at the Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelm Universität in Bonn. He is the author of numerous articles and exhibition catalogues on the history of French and German interiors and furniture design.

The Hôtel Beauharnais, today the residence of the German Ambassador to France, has been undergoing a campaign for refurbishment for the past fifteen years. Dr. Leben is leading this project under the auspices of the German Center for Art History in Paris. In this talk, Leben showed how unpublished and never before utilized historic inventories and documents are being used in the effort to restore this unique palace to its original splendor. He presented an overview of the project, share discoveries and new attributions made throughout the process, and provide insights into this stunning treasure house in Paris.