Palais du Louvre

Palais du Louvre

:"For the museum see Louvre Museum."The palais du Louvre in Paris, on the Right Bank of the Seine is a former royal palace, situated between the Tuileries Gardens and the church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. Its origins date back to the medieval period and its present structure has evolved in stages since the sixteenth century.

The Louvre—which gets its name from a Frankish word "leovar" or "leower", signifying a fortified place, according to the French historian Henri Sauval (1623-1676)—was the actual seat of power in France until Louis XIV moved to Versailles in 1682, bringing the government perforce with him; the Louvre remained the formal seat of government to the end of the Ancien Régime.

Medieval period

The Palais du Louvre was originally constructed as a fortress, and was built in 1190 by King Philippe Auguste, along with the City's first enclosure wall, to defend the banks of the Seine river against invaders from the north.cite web|url=|title=The Louvre: One for the Ages|date=2008|language=English|accessdate=2008-09-29] The fortress had at its center a cylindrical tower: the Donjon, or the Keep. Archaeological discoveries of the original fortress are part of the Medieval Louvre exhibit in the Sully wing of the museum.

The Louvre was renovated frequently through the Middle Ages. In 1358 Charles V began to enlarge the Louvre and in 1546, Francis I employed architect Pierre Lescot and sculptor Jean Goujon to remove the keep and modernize into a Renaissance style palace.Mignot, pp. 34, 35] [Sturdy, p. 42] Lescot added a ceiling to King Henry II's bedroom ("Pavillon du Roi") that departed from the traditional beamed style, and installed the "Salle des Caryatides", which featured sculpted caryatids based on Greek and Roman works.Blunt, p. 47] Art historian Anthony Blunt refers to Lescot's work "as a form of French classicism, having its own principles and its own harmony". Francis acquired what would become the nucleus of the Louvre's holdings; his acquisitions included Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa". [cite news|author=Chaundy, Bob|title=Faces of the Week|url=|publisher=BBC|date=2006-09-29|accessdate=2007-10-05] In 1564 Catherine de' Medici directed building of the Palais des Tuileries which would face the Louvre, and the surrounding gardens.


Philippe Auguste's fortress of 1190 was not a royal residence but a sizable arsenal comprising a moated quadrilateral (seventy-eight by seventy-two meters) with round bastions at each corner, and at the center of the north and west walls. Defensive towers flanked narrow gates in the south and east walls. At the center of this complex stood a keep, the "Grosse Tour" (fifteen meters in diameter and thirty meters high). Two inner buildings abutted the outer walls on the west and south sides.cite web|url=|title=The History of the Louvre: From Château to Museum|date=2008|language=English|accessdate=2008-09-29]

Royal residence

The fortress was enlarged and beautified in the 14th century by Charles V, making it the most celebrated castle in Europe of its time. This, however, was demolished in the 16th century by François I to make room for a new structure built in the Renaissance style. In 1567, Catherine de Medici built a château to the west called the Palais des Tuileries. During the reign of Louis IX, the fortress underwent a significant expanson. At the same time, the royal treasury was transferred to the fortress, giving it new importance. The castle soon gained a dual function: in addition to its protective role, it became one of the residences of the king and the court, along with the chateau de Vincennes, the Hotel Saint-Pol in the Marais and the palace of the Ile de la Cite.


After returning from captivity in Spain, King Francis ordered that the Louve take the place of the palace of Charles V, which had been ruined during the Hundred Years War. In 1546 Pierre Lescot, who had previously worked on the châteaux of the Loire Valley, was adopted as the project architect. The new plan consisted of a square courtyard, with the main wing separated by a central staircase, and the two wings of the sides comprising a floor. The death of Francis I, however, interrupted the project. The architect Jacques Androuet du Cerceau also worked on the Louvre. [cite web|url=|title=Palais du Louvre|date=2008|language=English|accessdate=2008-09-29]

During his reign (1589-1610), Henry IV added the Grande Galerie. More than a quarter of a mile long and one hundred feet wide, this huge addition was built along the bank of the Seine; at the time of its completion it was the longest building of its kind in the world. Henry IV, a promoter of the arts, invited hundreds of artists and craftsmen to live and work on the building's lower floors. This tradition continued for another 200 years until Napoleon III ended it. Catherine de Medici then took over the restoration of the palace, starting with the creation of the Palais des Tuileries. This was started in 1564, one year after the purchase of the land. Philibert Delorme began the project, and was replaced after his death in 1570 by Jean Bullant.

In the early 17th century, Louis XIII razed the north wing of the medieval Louvre and replaced it with a continuation of the Lescot wing. His architect, Jacques Lemercier, dsigned and constructed what is today known as the Pavillion de l’Horloge. The Richelieu Wing was also built by Louis XIII, the building first being opened to the public as a museum on November 8, 1793 during the French Revolution. Louis XIII (1610-1643) completed the wing now called the Denon Wing, which had been started by Catherine de Medici in 1560. Today it has been renovated, as a part of the Grand Louvre Renovation Programme.

Bourbon Dynasty

In 1594, King Henry IV began his "Grand Design" to remove remnants of the medieval fortress, to increase the "Cour Carrée"'s area, and to create a link between the Palais des Tuileries and the Louvre. The link was completed via the "Grande Galerie" by architects Jacques Androuet de Cerceau and Louis Métezeau. By 1639, classical architect Lemercier had finished the structure known as the "Pavillon de l'Horloge", after a clock was added in 1857.Mignot, p. 39] In 1659, Louis XIV instigated a phase of construction under architects Le Vau and André Le Nôtre, and painter Charles Le Brun.Baedeker, pp. 87-89] Le Vau oversaw the decoration of the "Pavillon du Roi", the "Grand Cabinet du Roi", a new gallery to parallel the "Petite Gallerie", and a chapel. Le Nôtre redesigned the Tuileries garden in the French style, which had been created in 1564 by Catherine de' Medici in the Italian style; and Le Brun decorated of the "Galerie d'Apollon". A committee of architects proposed on Perrault's Colonnade; the edifice was begun in 1668 but not finished until the 19th century.Edwards, p. 198]

The Louvre under the Sun King

Commissioned by Louis XIV, architect Claude Perrault's eastern wing (1665-1680), crowned by an uncompromising Italian balustrade along its distinctly non-French flat roof, was a ground-breaking departure in French architecture. His severe design was chosen over a design provided by the great Italian architect Bernini, who had journeyed to Paris specifically to work on the Louvre. Perrault had translated the Roman architect Vitruvius into French. Now Perrault's rhythmical paired columns form a shadowed colonnade with a central pedimented triumphal arch entrance raised on a high, rather defensive basement, in a restrained classicizing baroque manner that has provided models for grand edifices in Europe and America for centuries. The Metropolitan Museum in New York, for one example, reflects Perrault's Louvre design. In 1678 the royal residence moved to Versaille and the Palais du Louvre became an art gallery. [cite web|url=|title=Palais du Louvre, Paris |last=Clerkin|first=Paul|date=22008||language=English|accessdate=2008-09-29]

Later works

The Louvre was still being added to by Napoleon III. The new wing of 1852-1857, by architects Visconti and Hector Lefuel, represents the Second Empire's version of Neo-baroque, full of detail and laden with sculpture. Work continued until 1876.



*cite book | last = Mesqui | first = Jean | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Chateaux-forts et fortifications en France | publisher = Flammarion | date = 1997 | location = Paris | pages = 493 pp | url = | doi = | isbn = 2080122711
* Cite book| publisher = K. Baedeker|first = Karl|last= Baedeker| title = Paris and Environs: With Routes from London to Paris; Handbook for Travellers
date = 1891|url=


External links

* [ Ministry of Culture database entry for the Louvre] fr icon
* [ Ministry of Culture photos]
* [ A virtual visit of the Louvre]
* [ Panoramic view of the pyramid and the Cour Napoléon]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Palais du louvre — Vue générale du palais du Louvre Le palais du Louvre est un ancien palais royal situé à Paris sur la rive droite de la Seine, entre le jardin des Tuileries et l église Saint Germain l Auxerrois. S étendant sur une surface bâtie de plus de 135 000 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Palais du Louvre — Le palais du Louvre est un ancien palais royal situé à Paris sur la rive droite de la Seine, entre le jardin des Tuileries et l église Saint Germain l Auxerrois. S étendant sur une surface bâtie de plus de 135 000 m², le palais du… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Timhotel Palais Royal-Louvre Paris (Paris) — Timhotel Palais Royal Louvre Paris country: France, city: Paris (Louvre Chatelet) Timhotel Palais Royal Louvre Paris Location The hotel is centrally located, ten minutes walk from the Opera as well as from the Louvre Museum (or 2 metro stops).… …   International hotels

  • Palais des tuileries — Article connexe : Tuileries. Le palais des Tuileries était un palais parisien dont la construction commença en 1564 sous l impulsion de Catherine de Médicis, à l emplacement occupé auparavant par des fabriques de tuiles. Agrandi sous les… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • LOUVRE (PALAIS DU) — LOUVRE PALAIS DU Le palais du Louvre, élevé sur la rive droite de la Seine, a été considéré dès son origine comme l’édifice le plus hautement symbolique de Paris, capitale politique et culturelle de la France. Le comparant à l’Acropole d’Athènes… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • PALAIS — Le besoin de protection, le désir d’ostentation, le plaisir de déployer l’espace architectural sont, à des degrés divers selon les époques, le principe des grandes demeures, quel que soit le lieu de leur implantation, rural ou urbain. On a pris… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Louvre - Rivoli (metro de Paris) — Louvre Rivoli (métro de Paris) Louvre Rivoli …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Louvre - Rivoli (métro de Paris) — Louvre Rivoli …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Louvre - Rivoli (métro parisien) — Louvre Rivoli (métro de Paris) Louvre Rivoli …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Louvre - rivoli (métro de paris) — Louvre Rivoli …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”