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Louvre Architect

Feb 15 2012
{Articles >> Art History - Museums & Galleries}
Louvre Architect
Courtyard of the Louvre Museum, with the Pyramid by Alvesgaspar via Wikipedia

Over the centuries, starting in the 12th century, the Louvre has been revised, updated, and transformed. There are several Louvre architects.

Limbourg Brothers, Octobre via Wikimedia Commons

In the 12th century under Phillipe II Auguste (r. 1180-1223), known as the "maker of Paris" the Louvre palace was built to house the royal family. This was the era of French Gothic architecture and the development of European scholasticism; while Rome was the religious center of Western Europe, Paris became the intellectual center. Although the original Louvre is called a "palace" its function was a defensive fortress at the ramparts of Paris; with a moat, narrow gates, and defensive towers. This medieval fortress can be seen in the background of the October page of Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, by the Limbourg Brothers.

In the Mid 14th century under Etienne Marcel and Charles V, Paris grew beyond the Louvre, meaning it no longer had a defensive function. The Louvre was turned into a royal residence by Charles V's arcthitect, Raymond du Temple.

After the 14th century renovations, the Louvre languished in relative disrepair until 1527. At this point, Francois I took up residence in Paris. Under Francois I and Henry II in the 16th century, Pierre Lescot (1510-1578) designed the update and expansion of the Louvre. In this era, the Louvre goes from Gothic fortress to a distinctly Parisian Renaissance palace. The horizontal emphasis, large windows, visual logic, demonstrate the influence of Italian architect Bramante on Lescot. The sculptural work in the Lescot renovation was designed by Jean Goujon (ca. 1510-1565).

Henry II's widow, Catherine de Medicis, had plans drawn up by Philibert Delorme for a newer, more comfortable residence called the Tuileries. The Tuileries was to be to the west of the Louvre. Around the end of the 16th century, Henry IV had the Louvre and the Tuileries connected by the Grande Galerie, designed by Louis Métezeau and Jacques II Androuet du Cerceau. The assasination of Henry IV in 1610 meant that work on the Louvre was interrupted, and the Louvre would remain an incomplete collection of designs until the reign of Louis XIV.

Under Louis XIV in the 17th century, three French architects, Claude Perrault (1613-1688), Louis Le Vau (1612-1670), and Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) were commissioned to design the expansion and completion of Louvre. (Italian architect Bernini had proposed a design, but his plans were rejected). The Colonnade was designed by a committee that included Claude Perrault. This era sees the expression of a new official French architecture; the Louvre design under Louis XIV is grand and monumental, and synthesizes French and Italian influences.

In the early 19th century, Fontaine was the key architect in enlarging and embellishing the Louvre. At this point, the emphasis was on homogenizing and beautifying the disparate design and architectural elements of the palace.

By the 1860's, under Napoleon III, Visconti and Lefuel had added new wings and the Cour Napoleon. In 1882, the Tuileries was destroyed, permanently removing the Louvre's purpose as a palace; it becomes a center of culture. The museum function of the Louvre takes over the complex of structures.

Find out more about the Louvre's History at
Tags: Louis XIV .. Louvre