Louvre Palace

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Louvre Palace
Palais du Louvre
Paris The Louvre Palace (43537898394).jpg
West wing of the Louvre's Cour Carrée with the Pavillon de l'Horloge
General information
TypeRoyal residence
Architectural styleGothic (remains preserved underground), French Renaissance, Louis XIII style, French Baroque, Neoclassical, Neo-Baroque and Napoleon III Style, and Modernism (Pyramid)
LocationRue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Current tenantsLouvre, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, École du Louvre, C2RMF
Construction started1190 together with the Wall of Philip II Augustus
Design and construction
ArchitectNumerous; include Pierre Lescot, Louis Métezeau, Jacques Lemercier, Louis Le Vau, Claude Perrault, Percier and Fontaine, Louis Visconti, Hector Lefuel, I. M. Pei

The Louvre Palace (French: Palais du Louvre, [palɛ dy luvʁ]), often referred to in French simply as Louvre, is an iconic building of the French state located on the Right Bank of the Seine in Paris, occupying a vast expanse of land between the Tuileries Gardens and the church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. Originally a military facility, it has served numerous government-related functions in the past, including intermittently as a royal residence between the 14th and 18th centuries. It is now mostly used by the Louvre Museum, which first opened there in 1793.

Whereas the area had been inhabited for thousands of years,[1] the Louvre’s history starts around 1190 with its first construction as a fortress defending the western front of the Wall of Philip II Augustus. The Louvre's oldest section still standing above ground, its Lescot Wing, dates from the late 1540s, when Francis I started the replacement of the medieval castle with a new design inspired by classical antiquity and Italian Renaissance architecture. Most parts of the current building were constructed in the 17th and 19th centuries.[2][3]

For more than three centuries, the history of the Louvre has been closely intertwined with that of the Tuileries Palace, created to its west by Catherine de' Medici in 1564 and finally demolished in 1883. The Tuileries was the main seat of French executive power during the last third of that period, from the return of the King and his court from Versailles in October 1789 to the Paris Commune which decided to burn it down in its final days in May 1871. The Pavillon de Flore and Pavillon de Marsan, which used to respectively mark the southern and northern ends of the Tuileries, are now considered part of the Louvre Palace. The Carrousel Garden, first created in the late 19th century in what used to be the great courtyard of the Tuileries (or Cour du Carrousel), is now considered part of the Tuileries Garden.

Besides the world-class status of the eponymous museum, the Louvre Palace stands apart in Paris, France and even Europe, for its uniquely rich history and the multiple layers of legacy thereof that have been preserved to this day. In 1924, the Baedeker guide to Paris called it "the largest and most splendid palace in the world."[4]

General description[edit]

This sections provides a summary description of the present-day complex and its main constituent parts.

Location and layout[edit]

Aerial view of the Louvre Palace and the Tuileries Garden
Map of the Louvre Palace complex

The Louvre Palace is situated on the right bank of the Seine, between the Quai François Mitterrand to its south, the avenue du Général-Lemonnier to its west (thus named since 1957; formerly rue des Tuileries and Avenue Paul-Déroulède, converted into an underpass in 1987-1989[5]), the Rue de Rivoli to its north, and the Place du Louvre to its east. The complex occupies about 40 hectares with buildings distributed around two main open spaces: the eastern Cour Carrée (square courtyard), which is closed by four wings that form the square of its name, and the central Cour Napoléon, which is open on its western side, beyond the thoroughfare known as Place du Carrousel, towards the Carrousel Garden and the rest of the Tuileries Garden.

Since 1988, the Louvre Pyramid in the middle of the Cour Napoléon has marked the center of the Louvre complex. At the same time, the Louvre Museum has adopted a toponymy developed by the Carbone Smolan Agency to refer to the three clusters of building that surround that central focus point:[6]

The Louvre Museum occupies most of the palace's space, but not all of it. The main other users are at the building's two western tips: in the southwestern Aile de Flore, the École du Louvre and Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of France (C2RMF); and in the northwestern Aile de Marsan, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. In total, some 51,615 square meters (555,000 square feet) in the palace complex are devoted to public exhibition floor space.

Many sections of the Louvre are referred to as "wings" (ailes) and "pavilions" (pavillons) - typically, the pavilions are the blocks at either the end or the center of a wing. In the Louvre's context, the word "wing" does not denote a peripheral location: the Lescot Wing, in particular, was built as the Louvre's main corps de logis. Given the Louvre wings' length and the fact that they typically abutted parts of the city with streets and private buildings, several of them have passageways on the ground floor which in the Louvre's specific context are called guichets.


The origin of the name Louvre is unclear. French historian Henri Sauval, probably writing in the 1660s, stated that he had seen "in an old Latin-Saxon glossary, Leouar is translated castle" and thus took Leouar to be the origin of Louvre.[7] According to Keith Briggs, Sauval's theory is often repeated, even in recent books, but this glossary has never been seen again, and Sauval's idea is viewed as obsolete. Briggs suggests that H. J. Wolf's proposal in 1969 that Louvre derives instead from Latin Rubras, meaning "red soil", is more plausible.[8] David Hanser suggests instead that the word may come from French louveterie, a "place where dogs were trained to chase wolves".[9]

La salle des terres cuites du musée Napoléon III au Louvre, by Sébastien Charles Giraud, Salon of 1866

Beyond the name of the palace itself, the toponymy of the Louvre can be treacherous. Partly because of the building's long history and links to changing politics, different names have applied at different times to the same structures or rooms. For example, what used to be known in the 17th and 18th centuries the Pavillon du Milieu or Gros Pavillon is now generally referred to as Pavillon de l'Horloge, or Pavillon Sully (especially when considered from the west), or also Pavillon Lemercier after the architect Jacques Lemercier who first designed it in 1624. In some cases, the same name has designated different parts of the building at different times. For example, in the 19th century, the Pavillon de la Bibliothèque referred to what was later called the Porte Jean-Goujon (still later, Porte Barbet-de-Jouy), on the south side of the Grande Galerie facing the Seine, before becoming the name for the main pavilion of the Richelieu Wing on the rue de Rivoli, its exact symmetrical point from the Louvre Pyramid. The main room on the first floor of the Lescot Wing has been the Salle Haute, Grande Salle, Salle des Gardes,[10]:11 Salle d'Attente,[11] in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was fragmented into apartments during the 18th century, then recreated in the early 19th and called successively Salle Royale,[10]:9 Salle des Séances Royales[12] or Salle des Etats (the latter also being the name of two other ceremonial rooms, created in the 1850s and 1860s respectively);[10]:9 then as part of the museum, salle des terres cuites, after 1871 Salle La Caze in honor of donor Louis La Caze, and eventually Salle des Bronzes, its current name. The room immediately below, generally known as Salle des Caryatides, has also been called Grande Salle or Salle des Gardes in the past, among other names.

Sully Wing[edit]

The Sully Wing forms a square of approximately 160 m (520 ft) side length. The protruding sections at the corners and center of each side are known as pavillons. Clockwise from the northwest corner, they are named as follows: Pavillon de Beauvais (after a now-disappeared street[13]), Pavillon Marengo (after the nearby rue de Marengo [fr]), Pavillon Nord-Est, Pavillon Central de la Colonnade (also Pavillon Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois), Pavillon Sud-Est, Pavillon des Arts, Pavillon du Roi, and Pavillon de l'Horloge, the latter also known as Pavillon Sully. The section between the Pavillon du Roi and the Pavillon Sully, known as the Lescot Wing (Aile Lescot) as it was designed by architect Pierre Lescot, is the oldest standing part of the entire Louvre Palace. The section between the Pavillon Sully and the Pavillon de Beauvais, which was modeled after the Lescot Wing by architect Jacques Lemercier, is similarly known as the Lemercier Wing (Aile Lemercier). The eastern wing is the Aile de la Colonnade, named after its iconic eastern façade, the Louvre Colonnade initially designed by Charles Perrault.

Denon and Flore Wings[edit]

View of the Pavillon Denon from the underground lobby of the Pyramid

On the southern side of the Cour Napoléon, the Denon Wing's three main pavilions are named respectively, from east to west, after Napoleon-era officials Pierre Daru, Vivant Denon and Nicolas François Mollien. Between these and the wing facing the seine are three courtyards, from east to west the Cour du Sphinx (covered as a glass atrium since 1934), Cour Visconti (ground floor covered since 2012), and Cour Lefuel. On the side of the Seine, this wing starts with the north–south Petite Galerie bordering a side garden known as the Jardin de l'Infante, and continues westwards along the Quai François Mitterrand with the Salon Carré, Grande Galerie, and Pavillon de Flore. In the middle of the Grande Galerie are the Guichets du Carrousel, a composition of three monumental arches flanked by two narrow pavilions named respectively after the Duke of Lesdiguières and Henri de La Trémoille (Pavillon Lesdiguières and Pavillon La Trémoille). Further west are the Pavillon des Sessions, a protruding structure on the northern side, the Porte des Lions, a passageway to the quay,[14] the Porte Jaujard on the north side, now the main entrance to the École du Louvre, and finally the Pavillon de Flore.[15]

Richelieu and Marsan Wings[edit]

Similarly, on the northern side of the Cour Napoléon are, from east to west, the pavilions named after Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Cardinal Richelieu, and Anne Robert Jacques Turgot. Between these and the rue de Rivoli are three courtyards, from east to west the Cour Khorsabad (formerly Cour de la Poste), Cour Puget (formerly Cour des Guichets or Cour de l'Horloge), and Cour Marly (formerly Cour d'Honneur or Cour du Ministre). On the side facing the rue de Rivoli, the main salient feature is the Pavillon de la Bibliothèque, which connects to the Pavillon Richelieu through the ground-floor Passage Richelieu (formerly Guichet du Ministère[3]:102) between the Cour Puget and Cour Marly. Further west are the Pavillon de Rohan and the Aile de Rohan, built in the early 19th century and named after the nearby rue de Rohan [fr], then the Aile de Marsan and the Pavillon de Marsan, both rebuilt by Hector Lefuel in the 1870s.

Pyramid and underground spaces[edit]

The Louvre Pyramid, built in the 1980s on a design by I. M. Pei, is now the centerpiece of the entire Louvre complex. It leads to the underground Hall Napoléon which in turn serves a vast complex of underground spaces, including the Carrousel du Louvre commercial mall around an inverted pyramid further west.

Architectural style[edit]

The present-day Louvre Palace is a vast complex of wings and pavilions which, although superficially homogeneous in scale and architecture, is the result of many phases of building, modification, destruction and reconstruction.

Building history[edit]

This section focuses on matters of design, construction and decoration, leaving aside the fitting or remodeling of exhibition spaces within the museum, which are described in the article Louvre. No fewer than twenty building campaigns have been identified in the history of the Louvre Palace.[16] The architect of the largest such campaign, Hector Lefuel, crisply summarized the identity of the complex by noting: "Le Louvre est un monument qui a vécu" (translatable as "The Louvre is a building that has gone through a lot").[2]:38 In the early 1920s author Henri Verne [fr], who would soon become the Louvre's Director, noted that "it has become, through the very slow pace of its development, the most representative monument of our national life."[2]:38

Late 12th and 13th centuries[edit]

Plan of the medieval Louvre and wall of Philippe Auguste with additions to the Louvre made during the reign of Charles V, with indication of the footprint of later buildings[17]

In 1190 King Philip II of France, who was about to leave for the Third Crusade, ordered the construction of a defensive wall all around Paris. To protect the city, he opted to build the Louvre as a fortress just outside the wall's junction with the Seine on its right bank, on the road to the Duchy of Normandy that was still controlled by his English rivals.[18] Completed in 1202, the new fortress was situated in what is now the southwest quadrant of the Cour Carrée, and some of its remains, excavated between late 1983 and late 1985, are conserved underground.[1]

The original Louvre was nearly square in plan, at seventy-eight by seventy-two meters, and enclosed by a 2.6-metre thick crenellated and machicolated curtain wall. The entire structure was surrounded by a water-filled moat. On the outside of the walls were ten round defensive towers: one at each corner and at the center of the northern and western sides, and two pairs respectively flanking the narrow gates on the southern and eastern sides.[18]:32

In the courtyard, slightly offset to the northeast, was the cylindrical keep (Donjon or Grosse Tour du Louvre), thirty meters high and fifteen meters wide with 4-meter-thick external walls. The keep was encircled by a deep, dry ditch with stone counterscarps to help prevent the scaling of its walls with ladders. Accommodations in the fortress were supplied by the vaulted chambers of the keep as well as two wings built against the insides of the curtain walls of the western and southern sides.[18]:32-33 The circular plans of the towers and the keep avoided the dead angles created by square or rectangular designs which allowed attackers to approach out of firing range. Cylindrical keeps were typical of French castles at the time, but few were as large as the Louvre's Grosse Tour.

Louis IX added constructions in the 1230s, included the medieval Louvre's main ceremonial room or Grande Salle in which several historical events took place, and the castle's first chapel.[19] The partly preserved basement part of that program was rediscovered during heating installations at the Louvre in 1882-1883, and has since then been known successively as the Salle de Philippe Auguste[3]:106 and, after renovation in the 1980s, as the Salle Saint-Louis.

14th century[edit]

In the late 1350s, the growth of the city and the insecurity brought by the Hundred Years' War led Etienne Marcel, provost of the merchants (i.e. municipal leader) of Paris, to initiate the construction of a new protective wall beyond that of Philip II. King Charles V continued the project in the 1360s, and it was later known as the Wall of Charles V. From its westernmost point at the Tour du Bois, the new wall extended east along the north bank of the Seine to the old wall, enclosing the Louvre and greatly reducing its military value.[20] Remains of that wall have been uncovered and reconstructed in the present-day Louvre's Carrousel du Louvre.[18]:33

Shortly after becoming king in 1364 Charles V abandoned the Palais de la Cité, which he associated with the insurgency led by Etienne Marcel, and made the Louvre into a royal residence for the first time, with the transformation designed by his architect Raymond du Temple [fr].[3]:8 This was a political statement as well as a utility project - one scholar wrote that Charles V "made the Louvre his political manifesto in stone" and referred to it as "a remarkably discursive monument-a form of architectural rhetoric that proclaimed the revitalization of France after years of internal strife and external menace."[21] The curtain wall was pierced with windows, new wings added to the courtyard, and elaborate chimneys, turrets, and pinnacles to the top. Known as the joli Louvre ("pretty Louvre"),[9] Charles V's palace was memorably pictured in the illustration The Month of October of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.

15th century[edit]

In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the preferred royal residence in Paris was the Hôtel Saint-Pol in what became the Marais, until the Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War resulted in the monarchy leaving Paris altogether; in the 1420s and 1430s Charles VII resided largely at or near Bourges, whereas his rival English claimant Henry VI's representative, the Duke of Bedford, generally resided in his base of Rouen, and while in Paris in his Hôtel des Tournelles. Even after Charles VII's ceremonial entry into Paris in 1437 and after the effective end of the Hundred Years' War in 1453, French monarchs preferred residing in the Châteaux of the Loire Valley, the Palace of Fontainebleau or, when in Paris, at the Château de Vincennes or the Hôtel des Tournelles. Meanwhile, the Louvre Castle was left in a state of increasing disrepair.

16th century[edit]

In 1528, after returning from his captivity in Spain following his defeat at Pavia, Francis I ordered the demolition of the Louvre's old keep. In 1546 he formally commissioned the architect Pierre Lescot and sculptor Jean Goujon to modernize the Louvre into a Renaissance style palace, but the project appears to have actually started in 1545 since Lescot ordered stone deliveries in December of that year.[1] The death of Francis I in 1547 interrupted the work, but it restarted under Francis's successor Henry II who on 10 July 1549 ordered changes in the building's design.[1]

Lescot tore down the western wing of the old Louvre Castle and rebuilt it as what has become known as the Lescot Wing, ending on the southern side with the Pavillon du Roi. In the latter, he designed in 1556 the ceiling for Henry II's bedroom,[3]:20} still largely preserved after relocation in 1829 to the Louvre's Colonnade Wing, for which he departed from the French tradition of beamed ceilings. On the ground floor, Lescot installed monumental stone caryatids based on classical precedents in the salle des gardes, now known as the Salle des Caryatides. On the northern end of the new wing, Lescot created a monumental staircase in the 1550s, long known as the Grand Degré du Roi (now Escalier Henri II, with sculpted ceilings attributed to Jean Goujon.[22]:11-13

During the early 1560s, Lescot demolished the southern wing of the old Louvre and started to replace it with a duplication of the Lescot Wing. His plan may have been to create a square complex of a similar size as the old Louvre, not dissimilar to the Château d'Écouen that had been recently completed on Jean Bullant's design, with an identical third wing to the north and a lower, entrance wing on the eastern side.[18]:32 Some authors, however, reckon that the first plans to extend the Louvre's courtyard to its current size by doubling the lengths of the wings may have been conceived as early as Henry II's reign, even though the implementation only started in the 1620s.[22]:7[18]:35

Lescot also designed the Petite Galerie, which ran from the southwest corner of the Louvre to the Seine. A message to Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine in March 1558 mentions that new rooms should be furnished for Easter with tapestry.[23] All work stopped in the late 1560s, however, as the Wars of Religion gathered momentum.[18]:34

In the meantime, beginning in 1564, Catherine de' Medici directed the building of a new residence to the west, outside the wall of Charles V. It became known as the Tuileries Palace because it was built on the site of old tile factories (tuileries). Architect Philibert de l'Orme started the project, and was replaced after his death in 1570 by Jean Bullant.[18]:34 A letter of March 1565 indicates that Catherine de' Medici already considered a building to connect the Tuileries with the older Louvre building.[24]:9

Henry IV, France's new king from 1589 (the first from the House of Bourbon) and master of Paris from 1594, is associated with the further articulation of what became known as the Grand Dessein ("Grand Design") of uniting the Louvre and the Tuileries in a single building, together with the extension of the eastern courtyard to the current dimensions of the Cour Carrée. From early 1595 he directed the construction of the Grande Galerie, designed by his competing architects Louis Métezeau and Jacques II Androuet du Cerceau, who are respectively credited with the eastern and western sections of the building by a long tradition of scholarship. This major addition, about 460 meters long, was built along the bank of the Seine. On the ground floor at the eastern end of the new wing, Métezeau created a lavishly decorated room that was known as the Salle des Ambassadeurs or Salle des Antiques, later called Salle d'Auguste and now Salle des Empereurs.[24] At the time, the room on the first floor above, later Salon Carré, was known as Grand Salon or Salon du Louvre.[24]:11 Henry IV also had the first floor of the Petite Galerie built up and decorated as the Salle des Peintures, with portraits of the former kings and queens of France.[24]:12 A portrait of Marie de' Medici by Frans Pourbus the Younger, still in the Louvre, is a rare remnant of this series.[3]:32

17th century[edit]

The Tuileries Palace connected by the Grande Galerie to the Renaissance Louvre on Merian map of Paris, 1615

In 1624, Louis XIII initiated the construction on a new building echoing the Pavillon du Roi on the northern end of the Lescot Wing, now known as the Pavillon de l'Horloge, and of a wing further north that would start the quadrupling of the Louvre's courtyard. Architect Jacques Lemercier won the design competition against Jean Androuet du Cerceau, Clément II Métezeau, and the son of Salomon de Brosse.[22]:8 The works were stopped in 1628 at a time of hardship for the kingdom and state finances, and only progressed very slowly until 1639. In 1639 Lemercier started the construction of a new staircase mirroring Lescot's Grand Degré, which has since been often been wrongly referred to as Escalier Henri IV. That staircase was still unfinished when the Fronde again interrupted the works in the 1640s, and its decoration has never been completed since then.[22]:13 At that time, much of the construction (though not the decoration) of the new wing had been completed, but the northern pavilion, or Pavillon de Beauvais, designed by Lemercier similarly as Lescot's Pavillon du Roi, had barely been started.

On the southern side, Lemercier commissioned Nicolas Poussin to decorate the ceiling of the Grande Galerie. Poussin arrived from Rome in early 1641, but returned to Italy in November 1642 leaving the work unfinished.[3]:41-42[24]:11 During Louis XIV's minority and the Fronde, from 1643 to 1652 the Louvre was left empty as the royal family stayed at the Palais-Royal or outside of Paris;[22] the Grande Galerie served as a wheat warehouse and deteriorated.[24]:11-12

On 21 October 1652, the king and the court ceremonially re-entered the Louvre and made it their residence again, initiating a new burst of construction that would last to the late 1670s.[27] By 1660 the Pavillon de Beauvais and the western half of the northern wing had been completed.[3]:51

Meanwhile Anne of Austria, like Marie de' Medici as queen mother before her, inhabited the ground-floor apartment in the Cour Carrée's southern wing. She extended it to the ground floor of the Petite Galerie, which had previously been the venue for the King's Council[27]:16 That "summer apartment" was fitted by architect Louis Le Vau, who had succeeded Lemercier upon the latter's death in 1654.[3]:44 The ceilings, decorated in 1655-1658 by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli who had been recommended by Cardinal Mazarin,[27]:19 are still extant in the suite of rooms now known as the Appartement d'été d'Anne d'Autriche.

In 1659, Louis XIV instigated a new phase of construction under Le Vau and painter Charles Le Brun.[28] Le Vau oversaw the remodeling and completion of the Tuileries Palace, and at the Louvre, the completion of the walls of the north wing and of the eastern half of the south wing. On 6 February 1661, a fire destroyed the attic of the Grand Salon and much of the Salle des Peintures in the Petite Galerie (though not Anne of Austria's ground-floor apartment). Le Vau was tasked by Louis XIV to lead the reconstruction. He rebuilt the Petite Galerie as the more ornate Galerie d'Apollon, created a new suite of rooms flanking it to the west (the Grand Cabinet du Roi, later Escalier Percier et Fontaine) with a new façade on what became known as the Cour de la Reine (later Cour de l'Infante, Cour du Musée, and now Cour du Sphinx), and expanded the former Grand Salon on the northern side as well as making it double-height, creating the Salon Carré in its current dimensions. [24]:13 From 1668 to 1678 the Grande Galerie was also decorated with wood panelling, even though that work was left unfinished. The Salon Carré, however, was still undecorated when the court left for Versailles in the late 1670s.[24]:14 Meanwhile, landscape architect André Le Nôtre redesigned the Tuileries, first created in 1564 in the Italian style, as a French formal garden.[18]:36[29]

The other major project of the 1660s was to create the Louvre's façade towards the city and thus complete the Cour Carrée on its eastern side. It involved a convoiluted process, with the king's minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert first sidelining Le Vau and then calling the aging maestro Gian Lorenzo Bernini from Italy. Bernini stayed in Paris from May 1665 to 1666 but his designs did not gather approval, even though some building works started on their basis. Eventually a committee comprising Le Vau, Charles Le Brun and Claude Perrault designed the Louvre Colonnade on a flamboyant and highly influential architectural concept. Works started in 1667 and the exterior structures were largely completed by 1674,[28]:48 but would not be fully decorated and roofed until the early 19th century under Napoleon.[18]:36 To harmonize the Louvre's exterior, the decision was made in 1668 to create a new façade in front of Le Vau's for the southern wing, designed by the same architectural committee,[3]:60 albeit not on the northern side which was just being completed by then.[3]:63

The works at the louvre, however, stopped in the late 1670s as the king redirected all construction budgets at the Palace of Versailles, despite his minister Colbert's insistence on completing the Louvre.[2]:11[3]:60 Louis XIV had already left the Louvre from the beginning of 1666, immediately after the death of his mother Anne of Austria in her ground-floor apartment, and would never reside there again, preferring Versailles, Vincennes, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, or if he had to be in Paris, the Tuileries.[22]:27-28 From the 1680s a new era started for the Louvre, with comparatively little external construction and fragmentation of its interior spaces across a variety of different uses.

18th century[edit]

The Louvre on the Turgot map of Paris (1739) showing the unfinished wings of the Cour Carrée and new constructions in its midst

After the definitive departure of the royal court for Versailles in 1682, the Louvre became occupied by multiple individuals and organizations, either by royal favor or simply squatting. Its tenants included the infant Mariana Victoria of Spain during her stay in Paris in the early 1720s,[24]:18 artists, craftsmen, the Academies, and various royal officers. For example, in 1743 courtier and author Michel de Bonneval was granted the right to refurbish much of the wing between the Pavillon des Arts and the Pavillon Sud-Est into his own house on his own expense, including 28 rooms on the ground floor and two mezzanine levels, and an own entrance on the Cour Carrée. After Bonneval's death in 1766 his family was able to keep the house for a few more years. [30]:12 Some new houses were even erected in the middle of the Cour Carrée, but were eventually torn down on the initiative of the Marquis de Marigny in early 1756. A follow-up 1758 decision led to the clearance of buildings on most of what is now the Place du Louvre in front of the Colonnade, except for the remaining parts of the Hôtel du Petit-Bourbon which were preserved for a few more years.[2]:16

Marigny had ambitious plans for the completion of the Cour Carrée, but their execution was cut short in the late 1750s by the adverse developments of the Seven Years' War. Jacques-Germain Soufflot removed the chimneys of Le Vau's dome above the Pavillon des Arts, which were in poor condition,[3]:75 and designed the northern passageway (guichet) of the Cour Carrée in the late 1750s.[3]:74 The southern Guichet des Arts was later designed by Maximilien Brébion [fr] and completed in 1780.[2]:15 Three arched guichets were also opened in 1760 under the Grande Galerie, through the Pavillon Lesdiguières and immediately to its west.[2]:43

The 1790s were a time of turmoil for the Louvre as for the rest of France. On 5 October 1789, the king and court were forced to return from Versailles and settled in the Tuileries Palace; many courtiers moved into the Louvre. Many of these in turn emigrated during the French Revolution, and more artists swiftly moved into their vacated Louvre apartments.[30]:15-16

19th century[edit]

In December 1804, Napoleon appointed Pierre Fontaine as architect of the Tuileries and the Louvre. Fontaine had forged a strong professional bond with his slightly younger colleague Charles Percier.[30] Between 1805 and 1810 Percier and Fontaine completed the works of the Cour Carrée that had been left unfinished since the 1670s, despite Marigny's repairs around 1760. They opted to equalize its northern and southern wing with an attic modeled on the architecture of the Colonnade wing, thus removing the existing second-floor ornamentation and sculptures, of which some were by Jean Goujon and his workshop.[31] The Cour Carrée and Colonnade wing were completed in 1808–1809,[2]:21-22 and Percier and Fontaine created the monumental staircase on the latter's southern and northern ends between 1807 and 1811.[30]:17 Percier and Fontaine also created the monumental decoration of most of the ground-floor rooms around the Cour Carrée, most of which still retain it, including their renovation of Jean Goujon's Salle des Caryatides.[30]:19 On the first floor, they recreated the former Salle Haute of the Lescot Wing, which had been partitioned in the 18th century, and gave it double height by creating a visitors' gallery in what had formerly been the Lescot Wing's attic.[10]:11

Further west, Percier and Fontaine created the monumental entrance for the Louvre Museum (called Musée Napoléon since 1804). This opened from what was at the time called the Place du Louvre, abutting the Lescot Wing to the west, into the Rotonde de Mars, the monumental room at the northern end of the Appartement d'été d'Anne d'Autriche. The entrance door was dominated by a colossal bronze head of the emperor, by Lorenzo Bartolini. Visitors could either visit the classical antiquities collection (Musée des Antiques) in Anne of Austria's rooms or in the redecorated ground floor of the Cour Carrée's southern wing to the left, or they could turn right and access Percier and Fontaine's new monumental staircase, leading to both the Salon Carré and the Rotonde d'Apollon (formerly Salon du Dôme[3]:48) on the first floor (replaced in the 1850s by the Escalier Daru). The two architects also remade the interior design of the Grande Galerie, in which they created nine sections separated by groups of monumental columns, and a system of roof lighting with lateral skylights.

On the eastern front of the Tuileries Palace, Percier and Fontaine had the existing buildings cleared away to create a vast open space, the Cour du Carrousel, which they had closed with an iron fence in 1801.[3]:87 Somewhat ironically, the clearance effort was facilitated by the Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise, a failed bomb attack on Napoleon on 24 December 1800, which damaged many of the neighborhood's building that were later demolished without compensation. In the middle of the Cour du Carrousel, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was erected in 1806–1808 to commemorate Napoleon's military victories. On 10 April 1810, Percier and Fontaine's plan for the completion of the Grand Dessein of uniting the Louvre and the Tuileries was approved, following a design competition among forty-seven participants.[3]:88 Works started immediately afterwards to build an entirely new wing starting from the Pavillon de Marsan, with the intent to expand it all the way to the Pavillon de Beauvais on the northwestern corner of the Cour Carrée. By the end of Napoleon's rule the works had progressed up to the rue de l'Échelle [fr]. The architectural design of the southern façade of that wing replicated that attributed to Jacques II Androuet du Cerceau for the western section of the Grande Galerie.

One version of Percier and Fontaine's plan for uniting the Louvre and Tuileries
Percier and Fontaine's perspective of the completed Louvre viewed from the west
Percier and Fontaine's perspective of the completed Louvre viewed from the east
The Louvre viewed from the Pavillon de Flore, anonymous drawing, 1828

Percier and Fontaine were retained by Louis XVIII at the beginning of the Bourbon Restoration,[30]:19 and kept working on the decoration projects they had started under Napoleon. The Escalier du Midi was opened to the public on 25 August 1819.[30]:19 But there were no further budget allocations for the completion of the Louvre Palace during the reigns of Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis-Philippe I, while the kings resided in the Tuileries. By 1825, Percier and Fontaine's northern wing had only been built up to the rue de Rohan [fr],[3]:89 and made no progress in the following 25 years. Further attempts at budget appropriations to complete the Louvre, led by Adolphe Thiers in 1833 and again in 1840, were rejected by the Chambre des députés [fr].[3]:94

From the early days of the Second Republic, a greater level of ambition for the Louvre was again signaled. On 24 March 1848, the provisional government published an order that renamed the louvre as the Palais du Peuple ("People's Palace") and heralded the project to complete it and dedicate it to the exhibition of art and industry as well as the National Library. During the Republic's brief existence, the palace was extensively restored by Louvre architect Félix Duban, especially the exterior façades of the Petite Galerie and Grande Galerie, on which Duban designed the ornate portal now known as Porte Barabet-de-Jouy.[3]:96 Expropriation arrangements were made for the completion of the Louvre and the rue de Rivoli, and the remaining buildings that cluttered the space that is now the Cour Napoléon were cleared away.[32]:10. No new buildings had been started, however, by the time of the December 1851 coup d'état.

On this basis, Napoleon III was able to finally unite the Louvre with the Tuileries in a single, coherent building complex.[32] The plan of the Louvre's expansion were made by Louis Visconti, a disciple of Percier, who died suddenly in December 1853 and was succeeded in early 1854 by Hector Lefuel. Lefuel developed Visconti's plan into a higher and more ornate building concept, and executed it at record speed so that the "Nouveau Louvre" was inaugurated by the emperor on 14 August 1857. The new buildings were arranged around the space then called Place Napoléon-III, later Square du Louvre and, since the 20th century, Cour Napoléon. Before his death, Visconti also had time to rearrange the Louvre's gardens outside the Cour Carrée, namely the Jardin de l'Infante to the south, the Jardin de la Colonnade to the east and the Jardin de l'Oratoire to the north, and also designed the Orangerie and Jeu de Paume on the western end of the Tuileries Garden.[3]:98 In the 1860s, Lefuel also demolished the Pavillon de Flore and nearly half of the Grande Galerie, and reconstructed them on a modified design that included the passageway known as the Guichet de l'Empereur (later Porte du Sud, now Porte des Lions), a new Pavillon des Sessions for state functions, and the monumental Guichets du Carrousel replacing those created in 1760 near the Pavillon Lesdiguières.

At the end of the Paris Commune on 23 May 1871, the Tuileries Palace was burned down, as also was the Louvre Imperial Library in what is now the Richelieu Wing. The rest of palace, including the museum, was saved by the efforts of troopers, firemen and museum curators.[33]

In the 1870s, the ever-resourceful Lefuel led the repairs to the Pavillon de Flore, and reconstructed the Pavillon de Marsan between 1874 and 1879.[34][35] In 1877, a bronze Genius of Arts by Antonin Mercié was installed in the place of Antoine-Louis Barye's equestrian statue of Napoleon III, which had been toppled in September 1870.

Meanwhile, the fate of the Tuileries' ruins kept being debated. Both Lefuel and influential architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc advocated their preservation and the building reconstruction, but after the latter died in 1879 and Lefuel in 1880, the Third Republic opted to erase that memory of the former monarchy. The final decision was made in 1882 and executed in 1883, thus forever changing the Louvre's layout. Later projects to rebuild the Tuileries have resurfaced intermittently but never went very far.

The Gambetta monument in the Cour Napoléon, c.1900

A tall monument to Léon Gambetta [fr] was planned in 1884 and erected in 1888 in front of the two gardens on what is now the Cour Napoléon. That initiative carried heavy political symbolism, since Gambetta was widely viewed as the founder of the Third Republic, and his outsized celebration in the middle of Napoleon III's landmark thus affirmed the final victory of republicanism over monarchism nearly a century after the French Revolution. Most of the monument's sculptures were in bronze and in 1941 were melted for military use by German occupying forces. What remained of the Gambetta Monument was dismantled in 1954.

20th century[edit]

Some long unfinished parts of Lefuel's expansion were only completed in the early 20th century, such as Escalier Mollien between 1900 and 1910, by Louvre architects Gaston Redon and Victor-Auguste Blavette [fr] following Lefuel's general design.[2]:49

The Napoleon Courtyard, with Ieoh Ming Pei's pyramid in its center, at dusk

Aside from the interior refurbishment of the Pavillon de Flore in the 1960s, there was little change to the Louvre's architecture during most of the 20th century. The most notable was the initiative taken in 1964 by minister André Malraux to excavate and reveal the basement level of the Louvre Colonnade, thus removing the Jardin de la Colonnade and giving the Place du Louvre its current shape.[1]

In September 1981, newly elected French President François Mitterrand proposed the Grand Louvre plan to move the Finance Ministry out of the Richelieu Wing, allowing the museum to expand dramatically. American architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and in late 1983 proposed a modernist glass pyramid for the central courtyard. The Louvre Pyramid and its underground lobby, the Hall Napoléon, opened to the public on 29 March 1989.[36] A second phase of the Grand Louvre project, completed in 1993, created underground space below the Place du Carrousel to accommodate car parks, multi-purpose exhibition halls and a shopping mall named Carrousel du Louvre. Daylight is provided at the intersection of its axes by the Louvre Inverted Pyramid (la pyramide inversée), "a humorous reference to its bigger, right-side-up sister upstairs."[18]:41 The Louvre's new spaces in the reconstructed Richelieu Wing were near-simultaneously inaugurated in November 1993. The third phase of the Grand Louvre, mostly executed by the late 1990s, involved the refurbishment of the museum's galleries in the Sully and Denon Wings where much exhibition space had been freed during the project second phase. The renovation of the Carrousel Garden was also completed in 2001

21st century[edit]

Non-museum uses[edit]

Whereas the name "Louvre Palace" refers to its intermittent role as a monarchical residence, this is neither its original nor its present function. The Louvre has always been associated with French state power and representation, under many modalities that have varied within the vast building and across its long history. Percier and Fontaine thus captured something of the long-term identity of the Louvre when they described it in 1833 as "viewed as the shrine of [French] monarchy, now much less devoted to the usual residence of the sovereign than to the great state functions, pomp, festivities, solennities and public ceremonies."[37]

The uses of the Louvre Palace for purposes of museum exhibitions are covered in the respective articles Louvre (including the history of past displays in the Louvre Museum of artefacts that have now been moved to other locations) and Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

Military facility[edit]

The Louvre started as a military facility and retained military uses during most of its history. The initial rationale in 1190 for building a reinforced fortress on the western end of the new fortifications of Paris was the lingering threat of English-held Normandy. After the construction of the Wall of Charles V, the Louvre was still part of the defensive arrangements for the city, as the wall continued along the Seine between it and the Tour du Bois farther west, but it was no longer on the frontline. In the next centuries, there was no rationale for specific defenses of the Louvre against foreign invasion, but the palace long retained defensive features such as moats to guard against the political troubles that regularly engulfed Paris. The Louvre hosted a significant arsenal in the 15th and most of the 16th centuries,[3]:11 until its transfer in 1572 to the facility that is now the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal.[3]:24

From 1697 on, the French state's collection of plans-reliefs was stored in the Grande Galerie, of which it occupied all the space by 1754 with about 120 items placed on wooden tables.[24]:16 The plans-reliefs were used to study and prepare defensive and offensive siege operations of the fortified cities and strongholds they represented. In 1777, as plans started being made to create a museum in the Grande Galerie, the plans-reliefs were removed to the Hôtel des Invalides, where most of them are still displayed in the Musée des Plans-Reliefs.[38] Meanwhile, a collection of models of ships and navy yards, initially started by naval engineer Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau, was displayed between 1752 and 1793 in a Salle de Marine next to the Académie des Sciences's rooms on the first floor of the Lescot Wing. That collection later formed the core of the maritime museum created in 1827, which remained at the Louvre until 1943 and is now the Musée national de la Marine.

During Napoleon III's Louvre expansion, the new building program included barracks for the Imperial Guard in the new North (Richelieu) Wing,[2]:35 and for the Cent-gardes Squadron in the South (Denon) Wing.[39]

Feudal apex[edit]

The round keep of Philip II's Louvre Castle became the symbolic location from which all the king's fiefs depended. The traditional formula for these, that they "depended on the king for his great keep of the Louvre" (relevant du roi à cause de sa grosse tour du Louvre) remained in use until the 18th century, long after the keep itself had been demolished in the 1520s.[3]:4


Philip II also created a permanent repository for the royal archive at the Louvre, following the loss of the French kings' previously itinerant records at the Battle of Fréteval (1194). That archive, known as the Trésor des Chartes, was relocated under Louis IX to the Palais de la Cité in 1231.

A number of state archives were again lodged in the Louvre's vacant spaces in the 18th century, e.g. the minutes of the Conseil des Finances in the attic of the Lescot Wing, and the archives of the Conseil du Roi in several ground-floor rooms in the late 1720s.[3]:68 The kingdom's diplomatic archives were kept in the Pavillon de l'Horloge until their transfer to Versailles in 1763, after which the archives of the Maison du Roi and of the Bureau de la Ville de Paris soon took their place. In 1770, the archives of the Chambre des Comptes were placed in the Louvre's attic, followed by the archives of the Marshals of France in 1778 and those of the Order of Saint Michael in 1780.[3]:76 In 1825, after the Conseil d'État had been relocated to the Lemercier Wing, its archives were moved to the entresol below the Grande Galerie, near the Bibliothèque du Louvre.[3]:90


The Louvre became a high-profile prison in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Bouvines in July 1214, as Ferdinand, Count of Flanders was taken into captivity by Philip II. Ferdinand stayed there for 12 years. Other celebrity inmates included Enguerrand IV de Coucy in the 1250s, Guy, Count of Flanders in 1304, Louis de Dampierre in 1310, Enguerrand de Marigny in 1314,[40]:126 John of Montfort in 1341-1345, Charles II of Navarre in 1356,[3]:5 and Jean III de Grailly from 1372 to his death there in 1375.[3]:8 The Louvre was reserved for high-ranking prisoners, while other state captives were held in the Grand Châtelet. Its use as a prison declined after the completion of the Bastille in the 1370s, but was not ended: for example, Antoine de Chabannes was held at the Louvre in 1462–1463, John II, Duke of Alençon in 1474-1476, and Leonora Dori in 1617 upon the assassination of her husband Concino Concini at the Louvre's entrance following Louis XIII's orders.[3]:38


Under Philip II and his immediate successors, the royal treasure was kept in the Paris precinct of the Knights Templar, located at the present-day Square du Temple. King Philip IV created a second treasury at the Louvre, whose first documented evidence dates from 1296.[41] Following the suppression of the Templars' Order by the same Philip IV in the early 14th century, the Louvre became the sole location of the king's treasury in Paris, which remained there in various forms until the late 17th century.[3]:5 In the 16th century, following the reorganization into the Trésor de l'Épargne [fr] in 1523, it was kept in one of the remaining medieval towers of the Louvre Castle, with a dedicated guard.[3]:14

Place of worship[edit]

By contrast to the Palais de la Cité with its soaring Sainte-Chapelle, the religious function was never particularly prominent at the Louvre. The royal household used the nearby Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois as their parish church.[1] A chapel of modest size was built by Louis IX in the 1230s in the western wing.

At the time when Louis XIV resided at the Louvre, a new chapel was established on the first floor of the Pavillon de l'Horloge and consecrated on 18 February 1659 as Our Lady of Peace and of Saint Louis, the reference to peace being made in the context of negotiation with Spain that resulted later that year in the Treaty of the Pyrenees.[22]:17 This room was of double height, including what is now the pavilion's second floor (or attic). In 1915, the Louvre's architect Victor-Auguste Blavette [fr] considered restoring that volume to its original height of more than 12 meters, but did not complete that plan.[42]

On 2 April 1810, Percier and Fontaine had the Salon Carré temporarily redecorated and converted into a chapel for the wedding of Napoleon and Marie Louise of Austria.[43] Meanwhile, in planning the Louvre's expansion and reunion with the Tuileries, Napoleon insisted that a major church should be part of the complex. In 1810 Percier and Fontaine made plans to build it on the northern side of the present-day Cour Napoléon. Its entrance would have been through a new protruding structure now known as the Rotonde de Beauvais, facing the symmetrical entrance of the Louvre museum on the southern side in the Rotonde d'Apolon. The church was to be dedicated to Saint Napoleon, a hitherto obscure figure promoted by Napoleon as patron saint of his incipient dynasty (Napoleon also instituted a national holiday on his birthday on 15 August and called it the Saint-Napoléon [fr]). It was intended to "equal in greatness and magnificence that of the Château de Versailles" (i.e. the Palace Chapel).[44] Percier and Fontaine initiated work on the Rotonde de Beauvais, which was completed during Napoleon III's Louvre expansion, but the construction of the main church building was never started.

Ceremonial venue[edit]

The Louvre became a premier space for state and public ceremonies in Paris from at least the very beginning of the 14th century. In 1303, the Louvre was the venue of the second-ever meeting of France's Estates General, in the wake of the first meeting the previous year; they were held in the Grande Salle of the castle's western wing.[10] On the occasion of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV's visit to Paris in 1377-1378, the main banquet was held at the Palais de la Cité but the French king used the Louvre's Grande Salle on the next day to give a major speech on his political position in the conflict now known as the Hundred Years' War.[21] The medieval Louvre's western wing was were the ceremonial spaces were located, and that geography did not change with the 16th century's reconstruction as Lescot Wing. Following the latter, most major functions were held either on the ground-floor room now known as Salle des Caryatides, or in the first-floor room then known under various names (see above) and now as the Salle des Bronzes.

A number of betrothals and weddings were concluded and celebrated at the Louvre. These included the betrothal of Henry of Brabant and Joan of Valois on 21 June 1347, the weddings of Charles of Orléans and Isabella of Valois on 9 November 1389, of John of Brittany and Joan of France on 30 July 1397, of Charles of France and Marie of Anjou on 18 December 1413, of Francis of Nevers and Marguerite of Bourbon-La Marche on 19 January 1538, of Francis of France and Mary Stuart on 19 April 1558, of Duke Charles III of Lorraine and Claude of France on 19 January 1559; the betrothal of Edward VI of England and Elisabeth of Valois on 20 June 1559; the weddings of Henry of Navarre and Margaret of Valois on 19 August 1572, of François de Bourbon and Jeanne de Coesme on 17 December 1582, of Louis II of Condé (the "Grand Condé") and Claire-Clémence de Maillé on 7 February 1641, of Charles Amadeus of Savoy and Élisabeth de Bourbon on 11 July 1643, of Armand de Bourbon and Anne Marie Martinozzi on 21 February 1654, and of Henri Jules of Condé and Anne Henriette of Bavaria on 11 December 1663.[45] Another grimmer occasion was just after the assassination of King Henry IV, when the king's coffin was put to lay in state in the Salle des Caryatides of the Lescot Wing.

During the Bourbon Restoration, the Lescot Wing's first-floor room, recreated by Percier and Fontaine as the Salle des États, was used for the ceremonial sessions of the parliament, even though the ordinary sessions were held in other buildings - the Palais Bourbon for the Lower Chamber and the Luxembourg Palace for the Chamber of Peers. From 1857 onwards, the new Salle des États in the South (Denon) Wing of Napoleon III's Louvre expansion was used for similar purposes. That role of the Louvre disappeared following the end of the French monarchy in 1870.

Royal residence[edit]

For centuries, the seat of executive power in Paris had been established at the Palais de la Cité, at or near the spot where Julian had been proclaimed Roman Emperor back in 360 CE. The political turmoil that followed the death of Philip IV, however, led to the emergence of rival centers of power in and around Paris, of which the Louvre was one. In 1316 Clementia of Hungary, the widow of recently deceased king Louis X, spent much of her pregnancy at the Château de Vincennes but resided at the Louvre when she gave birth to baby king John I on 15 November 1316, who died five days later. John was thus the only king of France born at the Louvre, and one of only two who died there (the other one being Henry IV on 14 May 1610 following his fatal stabbing in the rue de la Ferronnerie). Philip VI occasionally resided at the Louvre, as documented by some of his letters in mid-1328.[46] King John II is also likely to have resided at the Louvre in 1347, since his daughter Joan of Valois was betrothed there to Henry of Brabant on 21 June 1347, and his short-lived daughter Marguerite was born at the Louvre on 20 September 1347.[45]

Charles V of France, who had survived the invasion of the Cité by Étienne Marcel's partisans in 1358, decided that a less central location would be preferable for his safety. In 1360 he initiated the construction of the Hôtel Saint-Pol, and upon becoming king in 1364 started transforming the Louvre into a permanent royal residence. After Charles V's death, his successor Charles VI mainly stayed at the Hôtel Saint-Pol, but as he was incapacitated by mental illness, his wife Isabeau of Bavaria resided in the Louvre and ruled from there.[3]:11

Later 15th-century kings did not reside in the Louvre, nor did either Francis I or Henry II even as they partly converted the Louvre as a Renaissance palace. The royal family only came back to reside in the newly rebuilt complex following Catherine de’ Medici’s abandonment of the Hôtel des Tournelles after her husband Henry II’s traumatic death there in July 1559. From then, the king and court would stay mainly in the Louvre until Louis XIV's departure in 1666, albeit with two significant interruptions, at the height of the French Wars of Religion between 1588 and 1594, and during Louis XIV's minority and the Fronde between 1643 and 1652. The royal family and court also made frequent stays in alternative palaces, especially at Vincennes (where Charles IX died on 30 May 1574), Saint-Germain-en-Laye (where Louis XIV was born on 5 September 1638 and Louis XIII died on 14 May 1643), and the Fontainebleau (where Louis XIII was born on 27 September 1601). The child Louis XV also briefly resided in the Louvre's Appartement d'été d'Anne d'Autriche in 1719, as the Tuileries were undergoing refurbishment.[3]:68

Both Louis XIV in the 1660s[3]:60 and Napoleon in the 1810s made plans to establish their main residence in the Colonnade Wing, but none of these respective projects came to fruition.


Charles V pictured with a precious book, miniature of John of Salisbury's Policraticus, 1372

Charles V was renowned for his interest in books (thus his moniker "le sage" which translates as "learned" as well as "wise"), and in 1368 established a library of about 900 volumes on three levels inside the northwestern tower of the Louvre, then renamed from Tour de la Fauconnerie to Tour de la Librairie. The next year he appointed Gilles Mallet [fr], one of his officials, as the librarian. This action has been widely viewed as foundational, transitioning from the kings' prior practice of keeping books as individual objects to organizing a collection with proper cataloguing; as such, Charles V's library is generally considered a precursor to the French National Library, even though it was dismantled in the 15th century.[21]

In 1767, a project to relocate the Royal Library inside the Louvre was presented by Jacques-Germain Soufflot, endorsed by Superintendent de Marigny and approved by Louis XV, but remained stillborn for lack of funds.[3]:76 A similar project was endorsed by Napoleon from February 1805,[3]:83 for which Percier and Fontaine planned a new Library wing as the centerpiece of their program to fill the space between Louvre and Tuileries, but it was not implemented either.

A separate and smaller Bibliothèque du Louvre was formed from book collections seized during the Revolution and grew during the 19th century's successive regimes. Initially located in the Tuileries in 1800, it was moved to the Grande Galerie's entresol in 1805. In 1860 it was moved to a new space created by Lefuel on the second floor of the new North (Richelieu) Wing of Napoleon III's Louvre expansion, whose main pavilion on the rue de Rivoli was accordingly named Pavillon de la Bibliothèque. The new library was served by an elegant staircase, now Escalier Lefuel, and was decorated by François Victor Eloi Biennourry [fr] and Alexandre-Dominique Denuelle.[3]:102 Sadly, it was destroyed by arson in May 1871 at the same time as the Tuileries, and only a few of its precious holdings could be saved.[47]

Yet another library, the Bibliothèque Centrale des Musées Nationaux (BCMN), was gradually developed by the curators, mainly during the 20th century, and located on half of the attic of the Cour Carrée's southern wing, on the river-facing side. The transfer of its collections to the new Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art was planned in the 1990s[47] and executed in early 2016 after much delay.[48] Several smaller libraries remain in the Louvre: a Centre Dominique-Vivant Denon in the BCMN's former spaces, open to the public;[49] a specialized scholarly library on art of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, located on the Cour Lefuel and thus known as the Bibliothèque Lefuel; and two other specialized libraries, respectively on painting in the Aile de Flore and decorative arts in the Aile de Rohan.[50]

Guest residence for foreign sovereigns and royals[edit]

King Charles V (center right) hosting Emperor Charles IV (center left) in Paris in early 1378. Both monarchs stayed at the Louvre after the banquet depicted here[51]
King Francis I and Emperor Charles V enter Paris together, fresco by Taddeo Zuccari, Villa Farnese. Francis V had the medieval Louvre spruced up ahead of Charles's visit[3]:15

The Louvre was the Parisian home of the Emperors who came to visit France: Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV stayed there in early 1378;[3]:11[21] Byzantine Emperor Manuel II from June 1400 to November 1402, using it as his base for several trips across Europe;[52] Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund in March and April 1416;[53] and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1539–1540.

In the late 1640s as the royal family had temporarily left the Louvre, Queen Henrietta Maria of England spent some of her Parisian exile in the apartment of the Queen Mother, on the ground floor of the southern wing of the Cour Carrée, where in early February 1649 she learned about the execution of her husband Charles I.[54]

In 1717, the Appartement d'été d'Anne d'Autriche was made available to Peter the Great during his visit in Paris, but the Czar preferred to stay in the less grandiose Hôtel de Lesdiguières [fr].[3]:68 In 1722, the same apartment became the temporary residence of Infanta Mariana Victoria of Spain, who was promised to marry the young Louis XV. She stayed there three years, after which diplomatic developments led to the cancelation of the marriage project and to her return to Spain. This episode remains in the name of the garden in front of the Petite Galerie, known since as the Jardin de l'Infante. The courtyard on the other side of the wing, previously known as Cour de la Reine, was also known as the Cour de l'Infante for much of the 18th century (and later Cour du Musée, now Cour du Sphinx).

In the 1860s, Napoleon III decided to create a prestige apartment for visiting sovereigns in the Aile de Flore, close to his own apartment in the Tuileries Palace. Lefuel designed it with a monumental escalier des Souverains, the decoration of which he led between 1873 and 1878 even though the monarchy had fallen in the meantime. That project, however, was left unfinished, and in 1901-1902 its richly decorated upper section was repurposed into a room which is now the study gallery of the Louvre's department of graphical arts.[55][56]

Entertainment venue[edit]

Entertainment performances such as tournaments, games, balls and theater were a core part of court life at the time when the Louvre was a royal residence. In 1610, a gladiator-style fight between a man and a lion was organized in the Louvre's courtyard, which King Henry IV watched from inside the building.[3]:35

Theatrical representations were particularly significant in the period following the return of the court to the Louvre in 1652. Molière first performed in front of the king in the large first-floor room of the Lescot Wing on 24 October 1658, playing his Nicomède and Le Dépit amoureux [fr]. Following that performance's success, he was granted use of a space first in the Hôtel du Petit-Bourbon and then, after the latter's demolition to make space for the Louvre Colonnade, at the Palais-Royal. Molière again performed at the Louvre on 29 January 1664 when he directed Le Mariage forcé [fr], with Louis XIV himself playing a cameo role as an Egyptian, in the main room of the Queen Mother on the ground floor of the Cour Carrée's southern wing. On 17 November 1667, Jean Racine's Andromaque was created at the Louvre in Louis XIV's presence.

Some lavish entertainment performances left such a mark on collective memory that parts of the Louvre came to be named after them. Thus, the Place du Carrousel preserves the memory of the Grand Carrousel [fr] of 5-6 June 1662, and the Pavillon de Flore is named after the Ballet de Flore that was first performed there on 13 February 1669.[35]:16-20

Napoleon decided to build a new venue for the Paris Opera as part of his project to complete the Louvre and its reunion with the Tuileries. In 1810 Percier and Fontaine planned a new opera house north of what is now the Cour Napoléon, on a similar footprint to the present-day Passage Richelieu, with main entrance on the northern side facing the Palais-Royal. That project, however, was not implemented.[57] Nor was Napoleon III's plan in the 1860s to build a large theater room in the Aile de Marsan as a symmetrical counterpart to the Pavillon des Sessions he created in the southern Aile de Flore.[3]:102

In the 1960s, a theater appears to have operated in the Pavillon de Marsan, known as the Théâtre du Pavillon de Marsan. Samuel Beckett's play named Play (French: Comédie) had its French premiere there on 11 June 1964, directed by Jean-Marie Serreau.[58]

In 1996, the Comédie-Française opened the Studio-Théâtre in the underground spaces of the Carrousel du Louvre, its third venue (after its main Palais-Royal facility and the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier).

Residence of artists and craftsmen[edit]

On 22 December 1608, Henry IV published letters patent heralding his decision to invite hundreds of artists and craftsmen to live and work on the floors under the Grande Galerie.[30]:10 Simultaneously, Henry established a tapestry factory there, which remained until its transfer to the Gobelins Manufactory in 1671. Creators who lived under the Grande Galerie in the 17th and 18th centuries included Louis Le Vau, Théophraste Renaudot from 1648 to 1653,[59] André Charles Boulle, Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, Augustin Pajou, Maurice Quentin de La Tour, Claude-Joseph Vernet, Carle Vernet, Horace Vernet (who was born there), Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and Hubert Robert.[4]:89

Following the departure of the royal court to Versailles in the 1670s, a number of individuals, many of which were artists, obtained the privilege to establish their residence in parts of the formerly royal palace. These included Jacques-Louis David in the southeastern corner of the Cour Carrée and Charles-André van Loo in the Galerie d'Apollon. On 20 August 1801, Napoleon had the artists and others who lived in the Cour Carrée all expelled,[30]:16 and in 1806 put a final end to the creators' lodgings under the Grande Galerie.[4]:89

Royal mint[edit]

In July 1609, Henry IV transferred the mint to a space the Grande Galerie, from its previous location on the Île de la Cité. The Louvre mint specialized in the production of medals, tokens and commemorative coins, and was correspondingly known as the monnaie des médailles, whereas common coin kept being produced at the monnaie des espèces on rue de la Monnaie [fr] behind Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois as had been the case since the 13th century.

The Louvre's medals mint was led by prominent artists that included Guillaume Dupré, Jean Varin, and Claude Ballin [fr]. It closed during the French Revolution but was revived in 1804 by Vivant Denon. By imperial decree of 5 March 1806, it was relocated from the Louvre to the Hôtel des Monnaies where the monnaie des espèces had moved in 1775.[60]

Residence of senior courtiers and officials[edit]

In the 17th century, the second floor of the Pavillon du Roi was the home of Charles d'Albert, duc de Luynes until 1621, then of Gaston, Duke of Orléans, and from 1652 of Cardinal Mazarin who also establishes his nieces in thee second-floor attic of the Lescot Wing.[3]:49. Nicolas Fouquet and his successor Jean-Baptiste Colbert similarly lived on the upper floors of the Pavillon du Roi, above the King's bedchamber.[3]:49

New prestige apartments for regime dignitaries were created as part of Napoleon III's Louvre expansion. The main one, in the North (Richelieu) Wing, was used by Charles de Morny and after 1871 became the apartment of the Finance Minister. As such it featured prominently in Raymond Depardon’s documentary 1974, une partie de campagne [fr], shot during the presidential election campaign of then minister Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in early 1974. The apartment was renovated in the early 1990s and is now a part of the Louvre's decorative arts department, known as Appartement Napoléon III. Another official apartment was created for the imperial "Great Equerry" (grand écuyer) Émile Félix Fleury [fr], in the South (Denon) Wing, with entrance through an ornate portico in the Cour Lefuel. Part of that large apartment was converted in the 1990s into the museum's exhibition space for northern European sculpture, while another part has been used since 1912 as offices for the Louvre's director and their staff.[3]:108[61] Lefuel also created two successive apartments for the Louvre's director Émilien de Nieuwerkerke, the first in former rooms of the Académie de peinture, and when these had to be demolished to build the Escalier Daru, on the first floor of the Cour Carrée's northern wing.[3]:103

National printing house[edit]

Stamp of the Royal Printing House located at the Louvre, 1677

A first printing workshop appeared in the Louvre in the 1620s. In 1640, superintendent François Sublet de Noyers established it as a royal printing house, the Imprimerie du Louvre, putting an end to the monarchy's prior practice of subcontracting its printing tasks to individual entrepreneurs such as Robert Estienne. The royal printing house, soon known as Imprimerie Royale, was first led by Sébastien Cramoisy [fr] and his descendants, then by members of the Anisson-Duperron family [fr] throughout the 18th century until 1792. It was relocated to the Hôtel de Toulouse in 1795, then the Hôtel de Rohan [fr] in 1809.

In the early 1850s in the early stages of Napoleon III's Louvre expansion, projects were made to relocate the national printing house (then known as Imprimerie Impériale) in the new building of the Louvre, now the Richelieu Wing. These plans were criticized by Ludovic Vitet among others,[62] and were not implemented.

Academic and educational facility[edit]

Inaugural session of the Institut de France in the Salle des Caryatides, 24 October 1795
Amphithéâtre Rohan of the Ecole du Louvre, after renovation in 2014

In the late 17th century, the Louvre started to become the seat of the French royal academies. First, in 1672 Colbert allowed the Académie Française to meet on the ground floor of the Pavillon du Roi, in the Guards' Room of the former Queen Mother's apartment. Soon the Académie moved to the ground floor of the Lemercier Wing on the Cour Carrée, and also maintained its library there. The Académie des Inscriptions joined it in nearby rooms. The Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture had been established in the Grande Galerie until 1661, and returned to the Louvre in 1692, establishing itself in the Salon Carré and the nearby wing built by Le Vau on the Cour de la Reine, next to the Cabinet du Roi where a number of the king's paintings were kept.[3]:66-67 The Académie royale d'architecture moved to the Queen's apartment (in the southern wing of the Cour Carrée) in 1692.[3]:67 After a fire in 1740 it moved to the ground floor of the north wing.[3]:68 The Académie des Sciences also moved to the Louvre in the 1690s, and in 1699 moved from the ground-floor Bibliothèque du Roi to the former king's room, namely the Chambre de Parade, the Salle Henri II (antechamber) and the former Salle des Gardes (now Salle des Bronzes which was partitioned at that time.[2]:14[3]:68[24]:14 The Académie politique [fr], a diplomats' training school, took over in the 1710s the large room on the third floor of the Pavillon de l'Horloge (now partitioned into offices).[3]:68

From 1725, the Salon Carré, recently vacated with the return to Spain of the child Mariana Victoria, was used by the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture for its yearly exhibition, which took from it its name of Salon.[24]:19 From 1763, the Académie also overtook the Galerie d'Apollon.[3]:67

During the French Revolution, all academies were deemed to be fatally tainted by the Ancien régime associations and terminated on 8 August 1793. Barely more than two years later, however, they were recreated as the Institut de France on 24 October 1795, ceremonially inaugurated in the Lescot Wing's ground-floor room (the Louvre's Salle des Caryatides) on 4 April 1796.[3]:80 On 20 March 1805 Napoleon decided to relocate the Institut from the Louvre to its current seat at the former Collège des Quatre-Nations, which had been closed in 1791.

The Salon restarted on a yearly basis in the Salon Carré, until the Revolution of 1848. That year, the Louvre's energetic new director Philippe-Auguste Jeanron had it relocated to the Tuileries, so that the Salon Carré could be fully devoted to the museum's permanent exhibition. From 1857 the salon moved on from there to the newly built Palais de l'Industrie.

The École du Louvre was created in 1882 with the mission to "extract from the collections the knowledge they contain, and to train curators, missionaries and excavators". The school's curriculum originally focused on archaeology but soon expanded to related disciplines, such as art history and museography. In the early years, the school's sessions were held in the Cour Lefuel in two rooms of the former apartment of the great equerry,[3]:108 with entrance from the quayside.[63] A large underground classroom, the amphithéâtre Courajod named after art historian and Louvre curator Louis Courajod, was built in 1932 on architect Albert Ferran's design under the Cour du Sphinx. It was replaced in the 1990s by the still larger amphithéâtre Rohan, also underground on the northern end of the Carrousel du Louvre. The former amphithéâtre Courajod was then transformed into exhibition rooms in which the Louvre's Coptic art collection is now displayed, including the architectonic pieces from Bawit.

Securities exchange[edit]

The national securities exchange (or Bourse) was located at the Louvre between 10 May 1795 and 9 September 1795, in the former apartment of the Queen Mother (on the southern wing of the Cour Carrée[3]:80 and/or of the Petite Galerie[40]). This followed nearly two years of closure during which off-exchange speculation on Assignats went wild, after decades of operation of the Bourse in the Hôtel de Nevers from 24 September 1724 to 27 June 1793. In September 1795 the Bourse again closed for a few months; it reopened in January 1796 in the Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires where it stayed until 1807.[40]:118-119

Administrative office building[edit]

Louis XVIII granting the Charter of 1814 to grateful France, 1827 painting by Merry-Joseph Blondel in the Salle des Séances du Conseil d'Etat, Lemercier Wing

During the Ancien Régime, administrative staff numbers in the machinery of government remained small and were dwarfed by the number of courtiers and domestic servants. That changed in the 19th century as the administrative arms of the state became increasingly significant, and the Louvre as a quintessential government building reflected that new reality. In 1824, the first floor of the Lemercier Wing on the western side of the Cour Carrée was awarded to the Conseil d'État, which remained there until 1832. The painted ceilings of that era are still preserved, with law-related allegorical themes.

The office footprint within the Louvre increased considerably with Napoleon III's expansion. The new North (Richelieu) Wing included offices for the ministère d'Etat [fr], the short-lived ministère de l'Algérie et des Colonies [fr] (1858-1860),[32]:18 the ministère de la Maison de l'Empereur (separated from the ministère d'Etat in 1860),[64] and (briefly) the ministère des Beaux-Arts created in early 1870,[40][65] as well as the Directorate of Telegraphs.[32]:18

On 29 May 1871, a mere few days after the Tuileries' fire, France's government head Adolphe Thiers attributed all administrative offices and barracks space in the Louvre's northern wing to the French Finance Ministry, whose buildings on the other side of the rue de Rivoli had been entirely destroyed.[66] The Finance Ministry remained there for more than a century, until the late 1980s. A meeting of finance ministers of the Group of Seven countries, hosted at the Louvre on 22 February 1987, gave its name to the Louvre Accord.

Further west, projects were made in the 1880s to relocate the National Court of Audit (cour des comptes) - whose previous offices in the Palais d'Orsay, where the Musée d'Orsay now stands, had also been burned down - in the Aile de Marsan which had just been reconstructed and expanded by Lefuel. Only archives of the Court were deposited there, however, and these spaces were eventually attributed in 1897 to what is now the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

From 1878 the Aile de Flore was used by the Prefect of the Seine Department and the Municipal Council of Paris which held its meetings in Napoleon III's Salle des Sessions, following the destruction of the Hôtel de Ville at the end of the Commune.[2]:36[3]:106 They moved back into the reconstructed Hôtel de Ville in the early 1890s, after which the Ministry of Colonies was installed in the Flore Wing from 1893 to 1909.[67][4]:65 The museum then planned to expand into the Flore Wing but that was thwarted during World War I as the facility was used by the wartime bond issuance service.[3]:108 The Finance Ministry, together with the National Lottery [fr] it created in 1933, remained there and stayed until 1961.[68]

The Louvre museum itself keeps offices in various parts of the building, e.g. in the former apartment of the Great Equerry (museum direction), on the top floors of the Pavillon de l'Horloge,[42] and in part of the entresol under the Grande Galerie.[3]:108

Sculpture garden[edit]

Carlo Marochetti's Duke of Orléans, placed in 1845 in the Cour Carrée and now at Château d'Eu
Antonin Mercié's Meissonier, placed in 1895 in the Jardin de l'Infante, now in Poissy
Paul Landowski's Architecture, placed in 1908 in the Cour Napoléon and now in Reims

While the Louvre is rich with architectural sculpture, its position in the midst of a bustling city neighborhood was long unfavorable to the display of freestanding sculpture, with few exceptions that included the temporary display of a colossal statue of Vulcan in the Louvre's courtyard during Charles V's visit in 1540.[69] That changed during the 19th century, however, as the Louvre's open spaces multiplied and the public taste for sculpture and monuments simultaneously increased. An early project was made in the late 1820s to place the Great Sphinx of Tanis in the center of the Cour Carrée,[70] but was not implemented.

Instead, on 28 October 1845 an equestrian statue of Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans was placed on that spot, itself a second cast of a monument by Carlo Marochetti erected in Algiers earlier that year. But that did not last long, and the statue was relocated to Versailles shortly after the Revolution of 1848 (it was moved again in 1971 to its present location at the Château d'Eu).[71] Early Second Empire plans to erect equestrian statues of Francis I in the Cour Carrée (by Auguste Clésinger[1]) and Louis XIV and Napoleon respectively in the two squares of the Cour Napoléon were left unrealized.

Sculpted monuments mushroomed around the Louvre in the late 19th and early 20th century. Most of them were removed in 1933 on the initiative of Education Minister Anatole de Monzie, due to changing tastes:[72]

In 1907 Étienne Dujardin-Beaumetz [fr], then an undersecratary of state in charge of France's fine arts policy, fostered the creation of a sculpture garden in the western octagonal garden of the Cour Napoléon, dubbed the "campo santo".[69] The monumental bronze group Le Temps et le Génie de l’Art by Victor Ségoffin[76] was placed in the center in 1908. Around it were allegorical and commemorative sculptures:

Two more memorials, of Rude by Sicard and Chardin by Larche, were commissionned but not completed.[74] All these sculptures, except Landowski's Sons of Cain, were also removed in 1933. Ségoffin's group was transferred to the southern French town of Saint-Gaudens in 1935, and melted down during World War II.[81] Landowski's Sons of Cain was eventually moved in 1984 to its current location on the terrasse du bord de l'eau of the Tuileries Garden.

In the eastern octagonal garden, an equestrian statue of La Fayette [fr], by Paul Wayland Bartlett, was erected in 1908. This initiative had been sponsored in 1899 by American diplomat Robert John Thompson in gratitude of the French gift of the Statue of Liberty, and originally intended for a dedication at Lafayette's grave at the Picpus Cemetery during the Exposition Universelle of 1900.[82] In preparation for the Grand Louvre remodeling, the Lafayette monument was moved in 1985 to its current location on the Cours-la-Reine.

In 1964, Culture Minister André Malraux decided to install in the Carrousel Garden 21 bronze sculptures by Aristide Maillol which had been donated to the French state by the sculptor's former model and muse, Dina Vierny, including casts of Air, Action in Chains, The Mountain, and The River. The Maillol statues were rearranged during the overhaul of the garden in the 1990s.

Most recently, as part of the Grand Louvre project designed by I. M. Pei, a cast made in lead in 1986 of the marble Equestrian statue of Louis XIV by Gian Lorenzo Bernini has been placed in the Cour Napoléon, in front of the Louvre Pyramid and marking the end of Paris's Axe historique. This was intended as a tribute to Bernini's past role as architect of the Louvre in 1664-1666, even though his plans were not executed.

Research facility[edit]

The Laboratoire du département des peintures du Musée du Louvre was created in 1932 to support research on paintings and leverage new analysis techniques. In 1968 it became the Laboratoire de recherche des Musées de France, with a national mandate but still located at the Louvre. In 1998, this laboratory wwas merged with the Service de restauration des Musées de France to form the Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of France (C2RMF), located in the Pavillon de Flore.

Shopping and dining venue[edit]

Café Marly and the Cour Napoléon, photographed in 2010

In addition to cafés inside the museum, namely the Café Mollien[83] and Café Richelieu in the eponymous pavilions, two restaurants are established in the Louvre Palace above ground:

More restaurants have operated underground since the opening of the Grand Louvre spaces in the late 1980s and early 1990s, respectively below the Louvre Pyramid and in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall.

Chronological plan of the construction of the Louvre[edit]

The oldest part of the above-ground Louvre is the southwest corner of the square block that faces the center of Paris to the east. This corner section, consisting of the Lescot Wing (1) and the north side of the western part of the south wing (2), was designed and constructed in the 16th century by Pierre Lescot, who replaced the corresponding wings of the medieval Louvre (not shown). Later that century, the Petite Galerie (4) was added, connecting the Louvre to the section of the wall of Charles V which ran along the north bank of the Seine toward the Tuileries Palace (3, 5, 8, 11, 14; destroyed by fire in 1871). Around 1600, during the reign of Henry IV, the wall along the river was replaced with the Grande Galerie (6, 7), which provided a covered passage from the Louvre to Tuileries Palace and later was the first part of the Louvre to become a museum. The Lescot Wing was expanded north with the Lemercier Wing (9) under Louis XIII, and in the second half of the 17th century, during the reign of Louis XIV, the Petite Galerie was enlarged (10, 13) and the remaining wings around the Square Court (12, 16) were constructed, but not totally completed until the first part of the 19th century under Napoleon, who also added the Arc du Carrousel (17) and parts of the north wing (17) along the rue de Rivoli. Later in the 19th century, the north wing was slightly extended (18) by Louis XVIII. From 1852 to 1857, Napoleon III connected the north wing to the buildings surrounding the Square Court with the Richelieu Wing (19, north part) and enlarged the Grande Galerie with the Denon Wing (19, south part). In 1861–1870 his architect Hector Lefuel carried out further work, replacing the Pavillon de Flore and the western section of the Grande Galerie (7) and adding the Pavillon des Sessions (20, also known as the Pavillon des États). In 1874–1880 he replaced the Pavillon de Marsan (15) and extended the south facade of the adjacent Marsan Wing (21).

Plan of Louvre and Tuileries by stage of construction
Plan of Louvre and Tuileries by stage of construction
Time King Architect
1545–1549 Francis I, Henry II Pierre Lescot
1559–1574 Francis II, Charles IX, Henry III Pierre Lescot
1564–1570 Catherine de' Medici Philibert Delorme
1566 –1999 Catherine de' Medici Pierre Lescot
1570–1572 Catherine de' Medici Jean Bullant
1595–1610 Henry IV Louis Métezeau
1595–1610 Henry IV Jacques II Androuet du Cerceau
1595–1610 Henry IV Jacques II Androuet du Cerceau
1624–1654 Louis XIII, Louis XIV Jacques Lemercier
1653–1655 Louis XIV Louis Le Vau
1659–1662 Louis XIV Louis Le Vau, Carlo Vigarani
1659–1664 Louis XIV Louis Le Vau
1661–1664 Louis XIV Louis Le Vau
1664–1666 Louis XIV Louis Le Vau
1664–1666 Louis XIV Louis Le Vau
1667–1670 Louis XIV Louis Le Vau, Claude Perrault, Charles Le Brun
1806–1811 Napoleon Charles Percier, Pierre Fontaine
1816–1824 Louis XVIII Pierre Fontaine
1852–1857 Napoleon III Louis Visconti, Hector Lefuel
1861–1870 Napoleon III Hector Lefuel
1874–1880 French Third Republic Hector Lefuel

Photo gallery[edit]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°51′40″N 2°20′11″E / 48.86111°N 2.33639°E / 48.86111; 2.33639