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Old March 1st, 2014, 04:27 PM   #1
joamox
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The Architecture of the Louvre

The building of the Louvre Palace is one of the longest and most complex in the history of European architecture. The Louvre was originally a fortress built in the 12th century, which later became a royal residence and was expanded and embellished over the next two centuries.

The transformation into a renaissance palace began during the reign of Francis I, who in 1527 had ordered the demolition of the round keep at the centre of the fortress. It took another twenty years, however, before the king returned his attention to the Louvre and hired Pierre Lescot to replace the medieval building.

The first section of the new courtyard palace was built in 1547-51, by which time the crown passed to Henry II. The courtyard has since quadrupled in size and several of the facades have been modified, but the original Lescot wing has survived mostly intact. The relief work is attributed to the renaissance artist Jean Goujon, though the statues in the niches are from the 19th century.



Lescot clearly modelled his facade on the courtyards of Italian palaces, though the result is both more ornate and complex. The projections introduce a vertical element to the composition, which is absent in most Italian examples. Arranging the facade in this way would later become typical of French architecture, but doesn't seem to have been the original intention. Lescot was simply following the French tradition of creating a projection in the facade to accommodate the staircase. He wanted to place it in the centre but this became difficult when the king insisted on having a reception hall across the entire ground floor. The ramp of the staircase was therefore pushed off-centre, but Lescot still kept the main frontispiece of the original design and introduced a third for the sake of symmetry. The idea of having a ground-floor arcade with recessed windows was probably borrowed from the design for a new city hall in Paris, but can also be interpreted as an adaption of the Italian courtyard to suit a colder climate. The roof is the first known mansard, which would also become a staple of French classical architecture. The break in angle of the sloping roof was probably used to minimise its visual impact.



The attic storey is richly decorated in relief sculpture, executed by Jean Goujon.
The figures in the central frontispiece are the god and goddess of war, Mars and Bellona, while the window is flanked with kneeling captives. The theme of war is further emphasised in the winged victories on the pediment. The monogram of Henry II is also displayed.

Work began on a second wing in 1553. This was to be known as the Queens' wing and was intended primarily as living quarters for the queen and the queen mother, who had been widowed when Henry II died in a jousting accident in 1559. The decoration had not been fully completed when Lescot died in 1579 and the attic floor was removed in the 19th century. Lescot also built a tower-like pavilion (Pavillon du Roi) at the corner of the two wings, which was removed in the 18th century. The external facades from the Lescot period are also heavily modified or replaced.
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Old March 2nd, 2014, 08:06 PM   #2
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The queen mother, Catherine de Medici, ruled France to varying degrees during the reigns of her three sons: Francis II, Charles IX and Henri III. She apparently didn’t like the still half-medieval Louvre and chose instead to build an entirely new palace outside the city walls to the west. Construction on the Tuileries palace began in 1564 to designs by the architect Philibert de l’Orme, while work on the Queens' wing at the Louvre came to a halt the year after and would only be completed during the reign of Henri IV.

Nevertheless, work at the Louvre did not stop completely and the idea of a long gallery to link the Louvre with the Tuileries appears to have originated during this time.

The first step in this plan was the little gallery, which was built as an extension of the Louvre toward the river. The ground floor design appears to be from 1566-67, but the first floor was only completed under Henry IV and its design is probably of a later date. The original architect is not known but could have been Philibert de l’Orme or Pierre Lescot, who after all was still the architect in charge of the Louvre. The name Pierre Chambiges also appears in some sources, while the upper storey could have been completed by Etienne de Perac or Louis Metezeau. Other suggestions include Louis Fournier and Leon Coin. The gallery was rebuilt after a fire in 1661 to a new design by Louis le Vau but some elements of the original was restored by Felix Duban in the mid-19th century.



The little gallery was initially built as a ground-storey terrace overlooking the Louvre gardens. The use of black marble strips on the Doric pilasters suggests some influence from de l'Orme's design of the Tuileries palace, though the application is more conventional. The decoration of the frieze may also point to de l'Orme in adhering to a 'correct' formula for the Doric order, though the decoration in the spandrels of the arches has been seen as indicative of Lescot's style. The absence of pilasters in some of the bays on the ground floor is due to le Vau's redesign in the 17th century, while the dormers and the frontispiece were added as part of of a 19th-century restoration.

Meanwhile, Jean Bullant took over as architect of the Tuileries when de l’Orme died in 1570. Catherine de Medici soon lost interest and work ground to a halt after 1572, though plans to expand the palace were made.
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Old March 4th, 2014, 12:47 PM   #3
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Things really started to pick up with the end of the religious wars and the ascension of Henry IV. The Queens' wing was finally completed and the first floor of the little gallery was built in 1594-96. The grand plan to unite the Louvre and Tuileries palaces was also realised, with the completion of a 400-metre grand gallery along the river in 1596-1609. The Tuileries was also extended to complete the corridor.

The job of designing the grand gallery was given to two architects, resulting in two seperate designs. The first section has been attributed to Louis Métezeau, who built a single-storey gallery with a mezzanine between the ground and first floors.



The composition is based on alternating triangular and segmental pediments, except over the main entrance, where a more elaborate frontispiece is introduced. Paired columns and a balcony also adds emphasis to this part of the facade, which has been named Porte Barbet de Jouy after a 19th-century curator. Certain changes have been made to Métezeau's section of the grand gallery. The two-storey pavilions at both ends were introduced in the 17th and 19th centuries. Most of the statues and the ornament in the pediments and central frontispiece were also added in the mid-19th century.

The rest of the grand gallery was supposedly designed by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, but his work was entirely demolished in the 1860s. The earlier facade consisted of colossal pilasters, which can still be seen in copy on the Rivoli wing built under Napoleon I, but the new river facade is closer to Métezeau.



At the junction between the two different sections stood Pavillon Lesdiguières, which still exists though incorporated into a wider 19th-century composition, known as les Guichets du Carrousel. The pavilion was previously named after the lantern at the top of its cone-shaped roof.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 04:45 PM   #4
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After the assassination of Henri IV, a second Medici queen became regent and royal building works got side-tracked again, while Marie de Medicis built the Luxembourg Palace. It was only after Louis XIII came of age that attention returned to the Louvre.

Work began in 1624, on a scheme that apparently originated with Henri IV: to quadruple the size of the Louvre courtyard. Lescot had more or less kept the dimensions of the old castle quadrangle, and the old medieval walls still stood to the north and east. The next step was now to clear this space and extend the original Lescot wing. The extension consisted of a central domed pavilion and a new section that is now known after the architect in charge: Jacques Lemercier.



The Lemercier wing (right) is pretty much identical to the original Lescot wing (left), except in the details of the relief work, which was mostly completed in the early 19th century. At least one of the motifs on the ground floor have been attributed to Gerard van Opstal and dated to 1638. The central dome was originally flanked by pavilions at both corners, with the original Pavillon du Roi by Lescot replicated by Lemercier at the other end. Both of these were later removed.



The Clock Pavilion (Pavillon de l’horloge) has since been renamed after the duke of Sully, who was a minister of Henri IV. The design of the caryatids has been attributed to Jacques Sarrazin and were executed by sculptors Guérin and De Buyster.
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Old March 19th, 2014, 09:28 AM   #5
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Excellent thread. Fascinating topic. Thanks.
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Old March 19th, 2014, 04:50 PM   #6
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Louis XIII died in 1643 and his widow, Anne of Austria, moved the royal residence across the street to a palace originally built for Louis XIII’s chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu. This building is still known as the Palais Royal. Anne of Austria was forced to flee Paris due to a revolt of aristocrats, and the Fronde, as the conflict was known, was only ended in 1653. Anne of Austria subsequently moved back to the Louvre and employed Louis le Vau as the new architect.

One of his first jobs was to rebuild the little gallery after a fire in 1661, which turned the first floor into the Galerie d'Apollon that still exists today. He also expanded the footprint of the little gallery by creating the vestibule Rotonde d'Apollon, Pavillon du Salon Carrée and Cour de la Reine, which is now called Cour du Sphinx. The bay window of the Rotonde can still be seen from Cour du Napoleon, though the ground floor decoration came later.

Le Vau then turned his attention to the completion of the Louvre courtyard. The north and south wings were both built according to the blueprint inherited from Lescot and Lemercier. Le Vau's only original design seems to have been confined to the river front, which he intended as a counterpoint to his Collège des Quatre-Nations on the other side of the river.

Work continued on the northern wing and some progress was also made on the final east wing. Meanwhile, the facade of the Tuileries had been extended in 1659-61 and le Vau and his assistant François d'Orbay redesigned the facade there in 1664-66.

The east front of the courtyard was considered the principal facade of the Louvre, as this was in the direction of the historic core of Paris. Some decision makers therefore began to doubt whether its design should be entrusted to le Vau alone and work was stopped while the matter was being considered.

In 1665, the Italian architect and sculptor Bernini was invited to Paris and submitted designs. But in the end, the east front was designed by a committee of three members: Louis le Vau, Claude Perrault and Charles le Brun. Le Vau died in 1670 and the east facade, known as the Colonnade, is mostly attributed to Claude Perrault, though François d'Orbay may also have played an important role.



The scale of the new east wing had ramifications for the earlier sections of the courtyard, as it was both taller and wider. You can still see the mis-match from Rue de Rivoli, where the two wings meet at an uneven angle. The style of the east front was also quite different, with a flat balustraded roofline, which broke with the earlier pattern of domed pavilions at the centre, flanked by corner pavilions. This is similar to Italian baroque palaces and could be due to the influence of Bernini, though his actual proposal had been rejected.

The new style, associated primarily with Claude Perrault, soon began to supplant the old. Le Vau's river front had been completed as recently as 1663, but work began on a new facade in 1668. The helped to eliminate the uneven angle between south and east wings but also created a mis-match between the river front and the lower facade onto the courtyard. This was because the south wing was not rebuilt entirely and the new river front initially stood as an empty screen in front of the old facade.



The new south front repeats the main theme of the colonnade, though it uses pilasters instead of columns in the round. Perrault apparently also produced a design for the north wing, though this was only completed much later.

All work on the Louvre was stopped in 1672 when Louis XIV made Versailles his permanent residence. The new Louvre was left in a state of incompletion and some parts didn't even have a roof.
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Old November 6th, 2017, 04:38 AM   #7
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Work finally resumed in 1755 but concentrated primarily on repairs and restoration. New buildings that had been built in very close proximity also had to be cleared.

The colonnade was never roofed since work stopped in 1680 and the wing was in such a ruinous state that it was considered to demolish it entirely and rebuild.



The colonnade was instead repaired, and finally roofed by architects Jacques-Ange Gabriel and Jacques-Germain Soufflot. They also restored Perrault's courtyard facade, which was the first to introduce a full top storey instead of an attic. The relief in the pediment was originally by sculptor Guillaume Coustou. Gabriel and Soufflot also made plans for a grand staircase to the royal library and Grand Conseil, which was the largest of the king's councils. Both were supposed to be installed in the colonnade but the staircase was never begun due to a lack of funds.



Some work was also done on the north facade, though this seems not to have been completed until the early 19th century, under Napoleon. The design on this side is also supposed to be by Claude Perrault. It is essentially a variation of the river facade but is without pilasters and stripped of some of the relief work.

Work was presumably also done on the south wing, integrating Perrault's facade to the actual structure and removing Lescot's and Levau's pavilions.
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Old November 6th, 2017, 08:10 AM   #8
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One of my favorite building complexes in the entire world. It is amazing to see in person and just walk around and through it, experiencing the immense size and at the same time staggering detail.
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