Classical Period: The Louvre

The history behind the Louvre is very important, it has gone through many makeovers and transitions in the course of centuries within different reigning powers. It is important to know what the Louvre was like before todays time. The Louvre is composed of several buildings in the first arrondissement located in the center of Paris. Perhaps the most important time period that The louvre has seen is “The Classical Period”. This lasted from 1624- 1793 under King Louis XIII and King Louis XIV. “Louis XIII followed in his fathers footsteps and increased the Louvre by four times its size.” Both kings not only had a major impact on the Louvre but as well as Tuileries Palaces.

The beginning of the classical period was sparked by King Louis XIII decision to start again on the construction and redesigning of the Louvre. This plan was called the “Grand design” carried out by Henri IV. The Louvre was out of commission over 10 years before any reconstruction began. When King Louis XIII ordered the demolition of the north wing he replaced it with a replica version of the Lescot wing. The architect responsible for expanding Lescosts design in 1624 was Jacque Lemercier. Another individual that heavily influenced king Louis XIII and help shape France during his reign was Cardinal Richelieu. During XIII’s reign, Parisian painters excelled in all the genres under the flourishing patronage of the Church, the court, and art collectors. After King Louis XIII passed away in 1643 his young son Louis XIV was his heir to the throne. His mother Queen Anne was King Louis XIV regent. She decided to create a suite of private logements for the summer on the ground floor (rez de chaussée) in the Petit Gallery (small gallery). The apartments were heavily influenced with Italian architecture behind it.

Between the years of 1660 and 1664 the Cour Carrée and the Cour du Sphinx were officially completed. Louis Le Vau was in charge of making sure the Louvre was completed and constructed following its redesigned blueprint. On February 6, 1661 a fire burned through the upper story of the Petit Gallery which later mandated a redesign for it. “While Le Vau oversaw the reconstruction work, the Sun King, Louis XIV, commissioned Charles Le Brun to execute decorative paintings evoking the passage of the sun represented by the Roman sun god Apollo.” ( In 1665 Louis XIV brought along board an Italian sculptor and architect by the name of Bernini. Bernini’s job was to work on the new royal entrance and the eastern wing of the Cour Carrée. Unfortunately Louis XIV put his work on pause and it was never resumed and became unfinished. Between 1672 – 1674 Louis XIV decided to move his monarch to the countryside of Versailles. While his decision to relocate, the ongoing projects that were taking place became unfinished, such as the Colonnade. Jean Baptiste Colbert who was in control of finances called for the work and progress to stop even though buildings were left unroofed and exposed to dangerous elements. Louvre fell into a state of neglect for a century.

1692 was the year that the Louvre served a new purpose. Its new role served as a meeting place for artists and intellectuals. Also Louis XIV ordered for a gallery of antique sculptures in the Salles des Caryatides. This became the first step towards the creation of a museum in 1792. “In the same year, the deserted palace received new occupants: the Académie Française was followed by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. In 1699, the latter held the first of a long series of salons, drawing large crowds.” In 1699 the first exhibition at the Louvre was held by artists in the Grand Gallery. This show was later called “The Salon”.

In 1756 the newly anointed king Louis XV the grandson of Louis XIV resumed the construction of the Louvre. King Louis XV because of his popularity and accomplishments was known as the well beloved king. “In 1791, the revolutionary Assemblée Nationale decreed that the “Louvre and the Tuileries together will be a national palace to house the king and for gathering together all the monuments of the sciences and the arts.” On August 10, 1793 was the year that that Louvre Museum opened one of the largest and famous museums in the world to the public.




Inside the Louvre
View of the Louvre at night


Works Cited:



“The Unauthorized Dan Brown Companion”

edited by John Helfers

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2 Responses to Classical Period: The Louvre

  1. Pingback: The Louvre: The Beginning to 1594 » Mapping Paris

  2. Chupacabras says:

    The present-day Louvre Palace is a vast complex of wings and pavilions on four main levels which, although it looks to be unified, is the result of many phases of building, modification, destruction and restoration. The Palace is situated in the right-bank of the River Seine between

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