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Exhibition The Louvre in the Age of Enlightenment (1750–1792)

from November 11, 2010 to February 7, 2011

Paintings and drawings portray the Louvre in the age of Enlightenment, at once a crucible of reflection on the challenges facing a changing society and a place of vitality at the heart of Paris and the art world.

In the exceptionally rich history of the Louvre from its origins in the eighth century to the present-day, the age of Enlightenment could almost be considered idle time: no new construction was undertaken and, despite a few attempts, the building remained in the unfinished state of colossal ruin that Louis XIV had left it.

However, the Louvre, “the monarchy’s thatched cottage”, as described by historian and member of the French Academy Marc Fumaroli, was home to the widest variety of people and activities imaginable. It became a genuine crucible of reflection on the challenges facing a society questioning itself: urban reflection on the completion of a palace at the heart of the capital began with the director of buildings, the Marquis de Marigny; reflection on the place of intellectuals and the arts in society continued with his successor the Comte d’Angiviller, who initiated the museum project that was to become, during the Revolution, the embryo of the institution we now know today.

While the Louvre fired peoples’ dreams in the age of Enlightenment, it was also the disorderly and unfinished setting for their daily lives. A former royal residence, the Tuileries housed the sovereign during his sojourns in Paris, which were occasional for Louis XV, permanent and forced for Louis XVI between 1789 and 1792. The Louvre also provided accommodation for all those the monarchy wished: administrative offices, staff quarters and grace-and-favor residences for nobility and artists… which made the palace a true kaleidoscope of society during the Enlightenment.

The Louvre dreamed, the Louvre lived, that is what this exhibition invites visitors to discover.

Organized by: Guillaume Fonkenell, Musée du Louvre

Practical information


Sully wing, second floor, rooms 20–23


Included in the museum ticket: €10.