Reopening of the 17th-Century French Painting Galleries | Louvre Museum | Paris

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From November 9, 2016
Large altar paintings, delicate still lifes, masterpieces of French classicism, prestigious history paintings, rediscovered works… the 17th-century French painting galleries have been renovated to offer a new take on the museum’s collections.

Large Altar Paintings
Now displayed in the room devoted to altar paintings, Nicolas Tournier’s masterful Christ on the Cross interacts with a work of similarly dark and dramatic colors: Christ Instituting the Eucharist, by Nicolas Poussin. The former is exhibited between two extremely elegant yet little known paintings by Laurent de La Hyre and Eustache Le Sueur: depictions of the Virgin and Child, whose gentleness and serenity temper the poignancy of Poussin’s and Tournier’s masterpieces.

The Life of Saint Bruno
The next room contains the series of paintings depicting the life of Saint Bruno, painted for the cloister of the Carthusian monastery in Paris and greatly admired by the French philosopher and art critic Denis Diderot.

The Decoration of the Hôtel Lambert by Eustache Le Sueur
The following room is dedicated to “Parisian Atticism,” the refined classical style of the mid-17th century. It contains paintings from the Cabinet de l’Amour and the Chambre des Muses in the Hôtel Lambert—a decorative scheme that was largely the work of Eustache Le Sueur.

Precious Paintings by Nicolas Poussin and Jacques Stella
Another treasure to discover is Poussin’s small painting of the Assumption, executed on a blue silk canvas. Its beauty and refinement echo the masterpiece by Poussin’s friend, Jacques Stella, painted on a piece of veined alabaster.

The Art of Still Lifes
In the small room displaying still lifes, two “cherry paintings” by François Garnier and Louise Moillon should not be missed, for their attractive and mouthwatering rendering of various red fruits! Garnier’s precious little painting, Gooseberries and Cherries, had been stolen but was recovered in 2006. Peaches and plums have pride of place on either side of the masterpiece of French still life painting: The Dessert with Wafers, by Lubin Baugin.

Masterpieces by the Le Nain Brothers and Georges de La Tour
The following room displays works by the Le Nain brothers, notably The Cart and The Forge, exhibited near The Peasants’ Meal and The Pilgrims at Emmaus, four paintings in which children play a key role. The Louvre boasts a series of masterpieces by La Tour, presented together at last on a dedicated wall in this room.

Monumental Battle Scenes
Monumental works have pride of place again in the room devoted to Charles Le Brun, with huge works depicting the history of Alexander the Great that give viewers an almost Technicolor experience of the ancient battles. The novelty in this room, however, is Adam Frans van der Meulen’s Siege of Luxembourg, painted for Louis XIV’s château at Marly. The painting underwent conservation treatment ten years ago, but has only now been added to the gallery display. The precise, meticulous brushwork, freshness of the vast landscape and richness of the colors, dominated by lapis blue, form a dazzling composition that harmonizes beautifully with Le Brun’s paintings for Nicolas Fouquet and Louis XIV.

Louis XIV’s Painters
Le Brun’s paintings are also among the highlights in the last room, dedicated to Louis XIV’s painters. The Agony in the Gardena lost painting that was rediscovered during research for the Charles Le Brun exhibition at the Louvre-Lens—is presented here to the public for the first time after its recent conservation treatment.

Practical information

From November 9, 2016
The 17th-century French painting galleries
Level 2 – Sully wing
Rooms 19 to 35

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