Musée Fesch

Musée Fesch, located within the Palais Fesch in Ajaccio, offers a collection of 14th – 19th century European art.

The museum exhibits a vast collection of art, collected by Cardinal Joseph Fesch (known as a great friend and an important guardian of the arts) during his life (1763-1839).

At the most extensive, his collection, which has an emphasis on Italian art, included over 17,000 artworks, of which 16,000 were paintings.

However, a large part of this original collection was either sold by the Cardinal himself, or the artworks were sold by his relatives, after the Cardinal’s passing away.

Musee Fesch Ajaccio France

PHOTO: Palais Fesch courtyard, whose highlight is the statue portraying Cardinal Joseph Fesch. Other Ajaccio tourist attractions nearby include the Cathedral of Ajaccio.

Cardinal Fesch statue Ajaccio France

PHOTO: A closeup of the statue of Cardinal Fesch, Napoleon Bonaparte’s uncle. The statue was made by Gabriel-Vital Dubray.

Palais Fesch, the museun’s building, was buid from 1827-1837, and consists of corps de logis section, and of wings, forming a courtyard.

Musée Fesch has gained international fame especially for its collection ofItalian art.

That Italian collection includes artwork from all major Italian art stylesfrom 14th century up to the 18th century.

Only the Louvre art museum (in Paris) has a comparable collection of Italian art within France.

Apart from the Italian artworks, the collection also includes masterworks from…

  • Flanders,
  • Dutch,
  • German,
  • French,
  • and Spanish artists.

The museum has a separate Napoleon collection, which has been dedicated to Cardinal Fesch and his family.

These Napoleon rooms and the Napoloen collection consists mostly of material that could not be fitted (due to lack of space) within the exhibition at Hôtel de Ville’s ‘Salon Napoleonien’.

Exhibition areas within the museum have been divided into twenty rooms / four levels, and there is also a separate library and an auditorium at the buildings.

Some of the more famous individual highlights in the collection include artworks from…

  • Sandro Botticelli, Titian,
  • Giovanni Bellini, Lorenzo di Credi,
  • Cosimo Tura, and Bernini.

In addition to the vast collection of paintings, the museum also has sculptures and an impressive miniature of Belle Poule ship, which brough the deceased Napoleon back to the mainland, from island of St Helena.

The Palais Fesch library, located on the northern wing, has a collection of about 50,000 books, of which 8,000 are from Cardinal Fesch’s personal collection.

On the southern wing, on the other hand, you can find an imperial chapel, an addition to the palace from 1857-60…and a final resting place for Cardinal Fesch and his closest family members.

You can plan your visit to the museum beforehand, using the official website, available at