Vanessa Hahusseau, the founder of Le Grand Siècle comes from a background of literacy, curiosity and an affinity for natural beauty. She maintained her intense interest in history, literature and art while graduating in L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques, and developing her strong affinity for decorative art.
After working in a Paris-based PR agency as a major account press officer, she decided to revitalise her professional life by putting to profitable use her creativity and intuitive feel for the spirit of the times. She launched her first brand, Le Grand Cirque, in Aix-en-Provence in 2012, for which she designs wallcoverings which are highly visual while practical, innovative in their application and adapted to modern lifestyles. Now, after several years of successful commercialisation, she sees an opportunity to add a new dimension and scale to her range.
It was in late 2016 while visiting the “Spectacular Second Empire” exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay that she discovered and was awestruck by the superb 19th century panoramic mural, Le Jardin d’Armide. Overflowing with flowers and luxurious foliage, it was to her a revelation, an astounding form of paintwork on paper whose existence she had neither known of nor suspected.
This overwhelming experience was only the first of many. Gaining access to the vaults of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in particular, Vanessa discovered a fabulous wealth of antique wallpapers and murals. The intense emotion of the silent witnessing of these great wood-panelled treasures gave birth to the ambition to bring these great works back to light and life.
It was a further two years before the project was brought to fruition - selecting the art works, restoring them, finding the best manufacturers and craftsmen, and overseeing the historical research. The digital restoration of the artworks in particular was a colossal effort. Removing the marks of time, rebuilding incomplete patterns, recreating colours drained by time, all called for infinite patience, made worthwhile however by the intimate knowledge and experience of the art on which it was lavished.
The long labour has never dimmed Vanessa’s conviction that each effort, however small, builds to the greater ideal of bringing to light works of art otherwise invisible in museum vaults and cellars, enabling a new vision and understanding of these decorative treasures from the 18th and 19th centuries, and eventually bringing them to new life in 21st century interiors, offering a true homage to French Arts Décoratifs, the wonderful gift of Le Grand Siècle.