The Louvre Is Revolutionary

BOUCHER Les Forges de Vulcain 1700s. 8 Novembre 1793 – may be the date one attributes to the opening of the Louvre in Paris, but it existed about 600 years before then. This date commemorates its opening to the public as a museum, a gesture of revolutionary significance.So, today, we will celebrate the history of the Louvre prior to 1793 and look at some of the pre-19th century art it houses.

LORRAIN Le Siege de LaRochelle par Louis XIII, 1631. Although the Louvre came to be a royal residence, its first use was as an arsenal with an enormous moat, bastions, defensive towers, buildings and a huge tower in the center, “Le Grosse Tour.”The only remains of this medieval structure are in La Salle Basse, but even its vaulted ceilings, columns and corbels are c.1240 additions.

VANLOO Neptune and Amymone, 1757

VANLOO Halte de Chasse, 1737

VANLOO Aeneas Carries Anchise, 1729. Through the 14th Century, as Paris grew, military experts enhanced the city’s defense strategy.The Louvre was, therefore, obsolete as the primary defensive structure. Instead, Charles V had his architect transform the Louvre into a chateau. Maintained miniatures of the grand structure depict its beauty full of tapestries, panelling and sculptures, with decorated rooftops, apartments encircling a central court, a pleasure garden, and a spiral staircase leading to a grand view.

LINARD Les cinq senses et les quatre elements, 1627. Charles VI enjoyed the Louvre as well, but after his death in 1422, it remained dormant until 1527 when François I moved to Paris.

VANDYCK Portrait de la noble Genoise, 1627. François I demolished le Grosse Tour in order to provide more light and space thus, beginning a period of construction that would last throughout the reign of the French monarchy.By the latter half of the 16th century, the Louvre was a conglomerate of new structures and 200-year-old ruins. Catherine de Medici, Henri II's widow, insisted on a more comfortable residence and had plans drawn for what is now the Tuileries Palace.The plans instigated by Charles IX eventually finalized a connection between the Louvre and the Tuileries.By 1610, Henri IV had built the Galerie du Bord de l’Eau (Waterside Gallery), now known as the Grande Galerie. Young Louis XIII (who became king at age 9) may have ignored construction for 15 years, but his Grand Dessein is complete and what we now think of as the Louvre.

FRAGONARD Les curieuses, 1780. ings Louis XIV - XVI ultimately oversaw the completion of the Louvre but paid more attention to the construction of the Palace at Versailles, where they maintained the center of French political power until 1789 when the revolution forced the monarchy back to Paris.The Louvre Palace transformed from arsenal to castle to palace. As such, it evolved through Renaissance to Classical and beyond Baroque. Ironically, the Louvre was unable to protect its monarchs from revolutionary defeat. As a museum, the Louvre has endured as a symbol of French culture.