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Visitor trails will.i.am at the Louvre

Thematic trail - Length: 1 hr 30 mins - Tour days: Monday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

00Department of Decorative Arts

The eighteenth-century collections of the Department of Decorative Arts offer a broad perspective on interior decoration, featuring works, mainly of French origin, produced by leading manufactures or independent artisans along with others handled by fine art merchants, spanning the period from the reign of Louis XIV until the French Revolution. They include wooden paneling and painted wall decorations, tapestries and rugs, joinery and cabinetry, gilt-bronze mounts and objects, marble and hardstone sculptures and carvings, silver and gold pieces, jewelry, scientific instruments, European ceramics, and imported objects in lacquer and porcelain.

Vue du palier de l'escalier Nord, aile Sully, avec des décors d'Anselm Kiefer: Athanor, 2007 (à gauche) ;  Hortus Conclusus, 2007 (au fond, au centre)
Vue du palier de l'escalier Nord, aile Sully, avec des décors d'Anselm Kiefer: Athanor, 2007 (à gauche) ; Hortus Conclusus, 2007 (au fond, au centre) - vignette

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN - Grand Palais / Franck Bohbot

01The north staircase of the Colonnade

To the eighteenth-century collections of the Department of Decorative Arts

Fifty years after Georges Braque, another contemporary artist designed a new decorative element for permanent display at the Louvre. Fifty years after Georges Braque, another contemporary artist designed a new decorative element for permanent display at the Louvre. Anselm Kiefer was commissioned to produce a work for a staircase of the museum’s Department of Egyptian Antiquities. This ambitious creation was unveiled to the public on October 25, 2007. The installation by Anselm Kiefer, a monumental painting on the theme of constellations and self-portrait, graced the 19th-century staircase designed by architects Percier and Fontaine, situated to the north of Perrault’s Colonnade. The staircase decoration was entrusted in 1812 to four sculptors. Their eight curved low reliefs on the first-floor landing depict antique gods and allegorical figures.  

Cabinet Marie-Antoinette, mobilier et collections de Marie-Antoinette
Cabinet Marie-Antoinette, mobilier et collections de Marie-Antoinette - vignette

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN - Grand Palais / Olivier Ouadah

02Salon Marie-Antoinette

In 1784 Marie-Antoinette had small private apartments laid out for herself in the latest fashion in the Palais des Tuileries. We no longer know today where exactly in the château they were located, but they were distinct from the main apartments and allowed the queen to the spend the night in Paris when she came for the theater. On this occasion Jean-Henri Riesener, cabinetmaker in ordinary to the Crown, delivered nineteen pieces of fine furniture. In addition to this rolltop desk, the order included a commode, a bedside table, and a dressing table, all now held at the Louvre.

Nécessaire de voyage de la reine Marie-Antoinette, 1787-1788
Nécessaire de voyage de la reine Marie-Antoinette, 1787-1788 - vignette

© RMN - Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

03Marie-Antoinette's travel kit

This large rectangular grained mahogany case, whose lid features a gilded copper plaque engraved with the letters MA intertwined in a laurel wreath, contains no less than ninety-four objects in silver, crystal, porcelain, steel, ivory, and ebony, all delicately stored in a set of mahogany cases in different shapes, laid out on several levels. Marie-Antoinette was very attached to this item, meant to ensure her improved comfort during a voyage.

Écritoire de laque montée en bronze doré de la reine Marie-Antoinette, vers 1785
Écritoire de laque montée en bronze doré de la reine Marie-Antoinette, vers 1785 - vignette

© RMN - Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Martine Beck-Coppola

04A cabinet for lacquer items

Marie-Antoinette particularly delighted in the charm of objects in lacquer. In 1781 her mother had bequeathed her a fine collection that she enhanced with pieces purchased from Paris dealers. The queen gathered these pieces, along with other items she especially liked, such as gems and Chinese porcelain, in her private sitting room at Versailles. A small number of lacquer items, including this writing case and a pair of ewers with bronze mounts, were set on the table placed by the windows.

Salle David-Weill, mobilier de Mesdames, tantes de Louis XVI, au château de Bellevue,  1780-1790
Salle David-Weill, mobilier de Mesdames, tantes de Louis XVI, au château de Bellevue,  1780-1790 - vignette

© 2014 Musée du Louvre / Antoine Mongodin

05The Château de Bellevue

Built for the Marquise de Pompadour and inaugurated in November 1750, the Château de Bellevue in Meudon quickly became a royal residence. When Louis XV died in 1774, his daughters "Mesdames" Adélaïde, Victoire, and Sophie de France became the owners of the estate. They moved into the ground floor, where, choosing the latest style, they had the paneling, ornamentation, and painted decoration redone in the new style harking back to antiquity called “à l’antique.” Then many pieces of furniture were commissioned, including a delivery of lacquer furniture and four large celadon-glaze vases decorated with flowering branches, set on rococo-style gilt-bronze mounts.

Salle Louis XVI, mobilier des résidences royales, 1775-1790
Salle Louis XVI, mobilier des résidences royales, 1775-1790 - vignette

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN - Grand Palais / Olivier Ouadah

06Salon Louis XVI

Louis XVI set out to complete the decoration of the royal apartments of the châteaux of Compiègne and Fontainebleau begun under Louis XV. To this end a major commission for furniture was made by the crown. Two desks of the same size and with the same
bronze ornamentation were ordered successively. The first had three extendable leaves and a rosewood veneer while the second, now in the Louvre, had four leaves and a veneer of mahogany.

The Great Men of France or The Illustrious Men of France : Descartes, Bossuet and Turenne.
On March 14, 1776, the director of the King's Buildings, made plans to produce a series of statues of The Great Men of France or The Illustrious Men of France to decorate a gallery in the Louvre (today's Grande Galerie). 

Salle René Grog et Marie-Louise Grog-Carven, mobilier et objets d’art néoclassiques, 1760-1775
Salle René Grog et Marie-Louise Grog-Carven, mobilier et objets d’art néoclassiques, 1760-1775 - vignette

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN - Grand Palais / Olivier Ouadah

07Salle Grog-Carven

In 1748 the treasurer general of the royal household ordered a woven furnishing from the Gobelins manufactory designed to upholster eight armchairs and a settee.
The Four Parts of the World are represented—each one twice—by human figures on the backs of the chairs and by animals on the seats: a pair of shepherds with sheep and cows symbolize Europe; a pair of Indians with a parrot and monkey represent the Americas; a pair of Africans with two tigers emblematize Africa; and a Turk and his servant with two camels represent Asia.

Salle Aline Guerrand-Hermès, boiseries et mobilier, 1770-1780
Salle Aline Guerrand-Hermès, boiseries et mobilier, 1770-1780 - vignette

© 2014 Musée du Louvre / Antoine Mongodin

08Music room

This ensemble is composed of several components: a double door painted with grotesque motifs (arabesques), the surround for a pier mirror, two panels carved with interlacing foliage, two overdoors with medallions (one of which contains a sculpted low relief), and a window setting including casement and inner shutters.
Its refined style evokes the finest Parisian interiors of the 1770s.
Its decoration is a magnificent example of the craze for antiquity that swept through Paris at the time, characterized by smoking cassolettes (incense braziers), cornucopias, mermaids, and garlands of myrtle.

Coupole du salon de compagnie des "Petits appartements" du Palais Bourbon, décor de Antoine-François Callet, La Toilette de Vénus, 1774
Coupole du salon de compagnie des "Petits appartements" du Palais Bourbon, décor de Antoine-François Callet, La Toilette de Vénus, 1774 - vignette

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN - Grand Palais / Thierry Ollivier

09The dome

Venus at her Toilette

In order to extend his estate on the left bank of the Seine, the Prince de Condé bought a plot of land next to the esplanade of Les Invalides. In 1771–72 he had a fashionable townhouse built there.
The townhouse was demolished in 1846 to make room for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the decoration in the dome of the drawing room, painted on reinforced canvas, was salvaged. This painting is a rare surviving vestige of what had been one of the most famous “pleasure houses” built in Paris in the last third of the eighteenth century.
In the middle is Venus at her toilette, while on the other side Adonis, her lover, leaves for the hunt with his dogs and retinue of nymphs. Callet’s painting is graceful and sensual as well as colorful, perfectly suited to its decorative role.

Grand salon du château d’Abondant (Eure-et-Loir), boiseries et mobilier, vers 1750
Grand salon du château d’Abondant (Eure-et-Loir), boiseries et mobilier, vers 1750 - vignette

© Musée du Louvre© 2014 Musée du Louvre / Antoine Mongodin

10Drawing room of the Château d’Abondant

Produced between 1747 and 1750 for Louis II du Bouchet de Sourches, the Grand Salon (drawing room) of the Château d'Abondant was installed by a team of Parisian artisans in the extension added by Bouchet to the château inherited from his father.
The color chosen for this wing of the château was green; here the wood is painted in a very light green mixed with gray and set off with a more intense shade of aqua. The paneling is divided into two parts. The paneled dado is decorated with rectilinear molding, enhanced with tiny flowers in the corners; the upper panels are bordered with curving and scrolling molding adorned with acanthus foliage, palms, cartouches, and flowers. The ornaments are arranged quite symmetrically. As a final decorative touch, the overdoor panels are painted with scenes by Jacques de Sève, a painter and draftsman known for his illustrations of Buffon's Natural History. They depict children's games in the Chinese style.

Pendule astronomique dite de la "Création du monde", 1754
Pendule astronomique dite de la "Création du monde", 1754 - vignette

© 2014 Musée du Louvre / Thierry Ollivier

11The scientific cabinet of Joseph Bonnier

Clock, The Creation of the World

This clock of The Creation of the World was commissioned by Joseph-François Dupleix, the governor-general of the French East Indies company, as a gift for the Nabab of Golconda. Perceived by some of his contemporaries as an ambitious adventurer, Dupleix was above all an artisan of French colonial power, becoming the greatest of the country’s colonial governors.
This clock is a perfect example of the diplomatic gifts that the king of France and his representatives sent to foreign monarchs. As soon as it was finished, the clock was shown to Louis XV, an event that was reported in the Gazette de France on March 2, 1754. “The various moments of Creation [are] united from a single point of view,” wrote the Gazette. “The earth is represented by a bronze globe 14 inches in diameter, on which all the countries and their main cities are engraved. This globe is placed among rocks and waterfalls that serve as a universal horizon. Clouds rise behind, crowned by a large bronze sun three feet in diameter. The clock is set in its center….”
The seven known planets of the solar system were configured in their respective positions in the sky, along with the moon. The earth rotates, and its poles incline as a function of the position of the sun. The clock gives the length of days, the succession of the seasons, and the exact time on every point on the globe.

Escalator Pei, aile Richelieu
Escalator Pei, aile Richelieu - vignette

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN - Grand Palais / Franck Bohbot

12I. M. Pei's escalator

In July 1983, Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei was appointed as the architect for the new "Grand Louvre" project. One of the most significant architectural achievements in the Richelieu wing is the escalator lobby with its imposing circular openings.

Appartements Napoléon III : le grand salon
Appartements Napoléon III : le grand salon - vignette

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN - Grand Palais / Franck Bohbot

13Napoleon III Apartments, Grand Salon

Napoleon I created an empire that collapsed. His nephew Napoleon III was to become the first French president elected by universal male suffrage in 1848, and proclaimed emperor four years later. His wife Eugénie is depicted in the room's paintings. Napoleon III commissioned the building of this wing of the Louvre to link the Louvre and the Tuileries Palace, which was destroyed in the late nineteenth century. The wing was dedicated mainly to receptions. The Grand Salon or large corner drawing room of the Napoleon III Apartments, is typical of the taste at the time for opulent, luxurious, and comfortable interiors.

Escalier Lefuel, décor de François Morellet, L’esprit d’escalier, 2010
Escalier Lefuel, décor de François Morellet, L’esprit d’escalier, 2010 - vignette

© 2013 Musée du Louvre / Paul Maurer

14Lefuel staircase

Named after the architect responsible for its creation, the Lefuel staircase is one of the finest examples of French nineteenth-century architecture. It was built between 1852 and 1858 in the north wing of the New Louvre, now known as the Richelieu Wing. This monumental staircase with its twin flights of stairs, built entirely of white stone, richly decorated with sculptures, and lit by multiple bay windows, looks onto both the interior and exterior of the museum. The entire surrounding area is bathed in radiant light. With refinement and elegance, François Morellet has redesigned the bays and oculi of these windows, entitling his work L’esprit d’escalier.