Auteuil and Passy, from the Isle Des Cygnes, ca. 1785 110
From August 1784 to May 1785, John and Abigail Adams and their children John Quincy and Abigail took up residence in Auteuil, just four miles from Paris, at the Hôtel Rouhault. The spacious new home with its beautiful sprawling gardens delighted the Adams family. Its opulence is described in great detail in Abigail Adams' letters in these volumes. Writing to her niece Elizabeth Cranch, she incredulously described one of the rooms: “Why my dear you cannot turn yourself in it without being multiplied 20 times. Now that I do not like; for being rather clumsy and by no means an elegant figure, I hate to have it so often repeated to me. This room is about ten or 12 foot large, is 8 cornerd and panneld with looking Glasses . . . festoons of flowers are round all the Glasses, a Lusture hangs from the cealing adornd with flowers, a Beautiful! Soffa is placed in a kind of alcove with pillows and cushings in abundance the use of which I have not investigated. In the top of this alcove over the Soffa in the cealing is an other Glass . . . The looking Glasses in this house I have been informd cost 300 thousand liveres” (Abigail Adams to Elizabeth Cranch, 5 September 1784, vol. 5; for a full and colorful account by Abigail Adams of the Adams household at Auteuil, see Howard C. Rice Jr., The Adams Family in Auteuil
, 1784–1785, Boston, 1956).
The view shown in this illustration is from the Isle des Cygnes, now called the Allée des Cygnes (Swan's Walk), with Auteuil on the left and Passy on the right. This islet divides the Seine just west of Chaillot and the Ecole Militaire. During the Restoration it was built up on the riverbed and is now, as it was in the eighteenth century, enjoyed as a popular promenade (Larousse, Grand dictionnaire universel
). The engraving by Jean-Jacques Le Veau is from Jean Benjamin de Laborde and others, Description générale et particulière de la France
. . ., 12 vols. [called Voyage pittoresque de la France
. . ., after vol. 4], Paris, 1781-, vol. 7, plate no. 37.
Courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2007.