Thursday, March 5, 2009

History of LOUVRE

The Middle Ages
During the forty-three-year reign of Philippe Auguste (1180–1223), the power and influence of the French monarchy grew considerably, both inside and outside the kingdom. In 1190, a rampart was built around Paris, which was Europe’s biggest city at the time. To protect the capital from the Anglo-Norman threat, the king decided to reinforce its defenses with a fortress, which came to be known as the Louvre. It was built to the west of the city, on the banks of the Seine.

From the Louvre to the Tuileries
The demolition of the Grosse Tour marked the beginning of a new phase of building work that would continue through to the reign of Louis XIV. The transformation of François I’s château continued under Henri II and his sons. However, the construction of the Tuileries palace some 500 meters to the west led to a rethinking of the site. Ambitious royal plans to link the two buildings culminated in the creation of the Grande Galerie.

The Classical Period
The reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV had a major impact on the Louvre and Tuileries palaces. The extension of the west wing of the Cour Carrée under Louis XIII marked the beginning of an ambitious program of work that would be completed by Louis XIV and added to by Louis XV, resulting in the Louvre that we see today. However, following the completion of Versailles, royal interest in the palace waned, plunging the Louvre into a new period of dormancy.

From Palace to Museum
With the Revolution, the Louvre entered a phase of intensive transformation. For three years, Louis XVI lived in the Tuileries palace, alongside the Convention Nationale. In 1793 the Museum Central des Arts opened to the public in the Grande Galerie and the Salon Carré, from where the collections gradually spread to take over the building. Anne of Austria’s apartments housed the antique sculpture galleries, and further rooms and exhibition spaces were opened under Charles X.

The Grand Louvre
The demolition of the Tuileries in 1882 marked the birth of the modern Louvre. The palace ceased to be the seat of power and was devoted almost entirely to culture. Only the Finance Ministry, provisionally installed in the Richelieu wing after the Commune, remained. Slowly but surely, the museum began to take over the whole of the vast complex of buildings.

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