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History of the Louvre
From château to museum

A visit to the Louvre and its collections lets visitors discover Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848, as well as a large number of ancient civilizations. Yet it also offers another history to explore. The grand palace that houses the museum, which dates back to the late twelfth century, is a true lesson in architecture: from 1200 to 2011, the most innovative architects have in turn built and developed the Louvre. Long the seat of power, this royal residence was also home to French heads of state until 1870 and is one of the major backdrops to the history of Paris and of France.

A backdrop to power

The Tuileries Palace: home to heads of state


With the uprisings during the French Revolution in July and October 1789, the government was forced to relocate to Paris. All of the regimes of French rule until 1870 resided at the Tuileries Palace. They included Louis XVI, brought back by force and increasingly captive until his deposition on August 10, 1792; the Revolutionary Committees (1792–94), the most famous of which was led by Robespierre; and the members of the Directory followed by the Consulat who cohabited with the main revolutionary assemblies, located in a room built on the site of Louis XIV’s grand theater in 1793. The Tuileries then saw the triumph of Napoleon I, who moved there as First Consul in 1800 before being crowned emperor in 1804; it also witnessed his defeat after Waterloo in 1815. Louis XVI’s brothers, Louis XVIII and Charles X, stayed there on their return to power but needed to give way to their cousin Louis-Philippe in 1830, when he ascended to the throne in the July Revolution.
Various interior works were carried out in line with the tastes and fashions of successive monarchs. The most important contribution during this period remained the Marsan wing, built along the rue de Rivoli by architects Percier and Fontaine. This wing closed off the large Cour du Carrousel, whose entrance was henceforth marked by a small arch erected by the two architects in tribute to the military campaigns of 1805.

6 images or videos

  • Hubert Robert, The Grande Galerie between 1801 and 1805, Musée du Louvre (RF 1964–34)

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    Published on: November 5, 2015

  • Benjamin Zix, The Emperor and Empress Making a Torchlight Visit, Musée du Louvre (Inv 33406)

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    Published on: November 5, 2015

  • Joseph Auguste, The Salle des Bijoux, Department of Paintings (RF 3630)

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    Published on: November 5, 2015

  • Victor Joseph Chavet, The Louvre of Napoleon III, Musée du Louvre (Inv 20048)

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    Published on: November 5, 2015

  • Nicolas Gosse, Napoleon III Visiting the Louvre Construction Site, Musée du Louvre (RF 1995–7)

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    Published on: November 5, 2015

  • Giuseppe Castiglione, The Salon Carré at the Musée du Louvre, Musée du Louvre (RF 3734)

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    Published on: November 5, 2015