“A stunning cultural exchange”
Tucked inside the historic Payne Whitney mansion, Albertine is the only bookshop in New York devoted solely to books in French and English with more than 14,000 contemporary and classic titles from 30 French-speaking countries. A project of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Albertine bookshop brings to life the French government’s commitment to French-American intellectual exchange. The space reflects its belief in the power of literature and the humanities to increase understanding and friendship across borders, and in the power of books as a common good for a better world. In partnership with the Cultural Services, Albertine hosts lively debates and discussions exploring popular and classical culture through a modern and global lens. French books at Albertine comply with the French law that states that book prices cannot be reduced more than 5 percent. Fixed book prices protect a rich network of publishers and booksellers in France and nourish its “biblio-diversity” History & Design Albertine is housed in the official landmark Payne Whitney mansion in Manhattan. In 1902, former Standard Oil Company treasurer Oliver Hazard Payne commissioned the Italian Renaissance mansion as a wedding gift to his nephew Payne Whitney. Between 1902 and 1906, Stanford White, the famed architect of the Washington Square Arch, designed and oversaw construction of the mansion. Since 1952, the mansion has housed the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. The bookshop within the mansion was born in 2014, and its interiors were created by celebrated French designer Jacques Garcia (Chateau du Champ de Bataille in Normandy, France and The NoMad Hotel in New York City). Designer Jacques Garcia drew inspiration for Albertine’s interior motif from a description of the ceilings of Lorenzo de Medici’s villa, created in the 1500s, that captured “the knowledge of the world.” The final product — a hand-painted mural of constellations, stars, and planets — was modeled after the extraordinary ceiling of the music room at the Villa Stuck in Munich, Germany, crafted by Franz von Stuck (1863-1928). Busts crafted by the ateliers of the Musée du Louvre of great figures from French and French-American culture including Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Tocqueville and Descartes are also on display. The centerpiece of the entrance of the building is a replica of Michelangelo’s Young Archer. The original had been in the lobby of the mansion for decades until it was discovered to be a Michelangelo in 2009. To our knowledge, it is the only Michelangelo statue on American soil. It is currently on loan at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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Albertine Books in French and English
- Mon - Sat: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
- Sun: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
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