The architecture of the Louvre Palace (II)

The architecture of the Louvre Palace (II)
The architecture of the Louvre Palace (II)

The origin of the Louvre Palace as an ancient medieval fortress could hardly be remembered in the 17th century when the Bourbon dynasty chose to make its palace the largest royal residence not only in France or the Europe but all over the world.

The French monarch Louis XIII built the Richelieur wing and the Lescot wing but it was really Louis XIV who, before thinking that the palace was old and outdated, made new renovations to it. For this, the monarch commissioned the construction to La Nôtre and Le Vau and the decoration of the new rooms to the painter Charles Le Brun. New galleries were then built, a small chapel for royal use, the old wings of the complex were redecorated under more modern artistic parameters, and the Tuileries gardens that Catherine de Médicis had ordered to be built in an Italian style for a more refined taste were rearranged. Frenchified.


But perhaps the most complicated project at this time was the construction of the eastern façade of the palace. The work was in the hands of the architect Louis Le Vau when palace intrigues and his well-known feud with Colbert, the monarch's personal adviser, led to his dismissal. An important competition was then raised among the most outstanding architects from all over Europe to fill the vacancy. At this time Gian Lorenzo Bernini was one of the most famous architects and sculptorshighlights from all over Europe; Bernini's project was chosen and the Italian traveled to France despite his advanced age.

What happened then is still debated among art historians and critics but it seems that the architect had to make up to three modifications to the original project that he proposed for the eastern facade of the Louvre and yet the project of he was finally rejected. According to documentary sources, the demands of Louis XIV were not viable in the eyes of Bernini, however it seems that what really happened was that the monarch wanted to leave Paris to move to Versailles in order to have greater security in the event of riots. So Bernini returned to Italy and the eastern façade ended up being built with a project carried out by Le Brun, Perrault and Le Vau in which there were two floors with the main one presided over by a gallery of paired Corinthian columns, two side pavilions and an access in the central area with an advanced module and topped by a triangular pediment.

Finally, in the 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte gave the complex its current appearance, raising the Seine wing and the Carrousel triumphal arch in front of the access façade; years later it would be Napoleon III who would make a wing parallel to it to finish endowing the whole with great symmetry.


But without a doubt, the current state of the complex cannot be understood without the famous glass and steel pyramid that serves as access to the current museum asvisitor reception center and designed by architect Ieoh Ming Pei in 1981.

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