BETWEEN the rue de Rivoli and the Seine, in the very heart of Paris, lies the great gray rectangle of buildings called the Louvre, the most important, as it is the most perfect architectural expression of the Renaissance in France. A bird’s-eye view of this enormous construction, with its vast length of walls, its open courts, its frequent square towers, and its guarded entrances, suggests a walled city rather than a palace. In other words, these forty-eight acres of ground appear to be merely bounded by this long line of wall that throws out a cross-section or two dividing into squares and oblongs the immense rectangular enclosure. But across the-eastern end the boundary has gone. With it has gone the- whole raison d’être of this spanning structure. If the Palace of the Tuileries had not stood almost directly west of the Louvre, no such length of wings would ever have been thrown out from either building. From Catherine de’ Medici’s day the object of both king and architect was to make these two palaces into one continuous and homogeneous edifice. It was not till Napoleon III. that this was entirely accomplished, and its completion was of short duration. The Commune, with the unreasoning vengeance that destroys even the inanimate surroundings of its enemy, having driven from its portals the empress the people themselves had chosen, set fire to her palace. Thus went up in flames Delorme’s famous façade, one of the most beautiful architectural creations in the city, the wonderful library, with its priceless collection of manuscripts, and the palace, which was not only of inestimable value, but, by its conjunction with the Louvre, formed one of its integral parts.
It is not easy to get a view of the whole plan of the Louvre, consequently the tremendous loss of the Tuileries is not generally realized. From the Place du Carrousel, certainly, even the most casual observer must feel a lack of meaning in those two parallel arms that end in empty space, joining nothing, finishing nowhere. But even there, it is easy to forget this vacancy in looking beyond the arms out into the Gardens of the Tuileries, the sole remnant of the days of the royal will that demanded the blooms of the tropics before his Paris windows. Despite the vanished palace, the Louvre remains the most nearly perfect, as it is the most valuable architectural possession of the Renaissance in Paris.
Perhaps it is its massiveness that strikes one most forcibly and at once. There is a certain austerity in the very grayness of the stone with which it is built. In general it may be called three stories high. But in effect it is much more than that. For, besides the great elevation of each story, the walls are continually spreading into ” pavillons,” square, domed towers that rise heavily above the connecting walls, adding with their rich, often florid decorations, both height and grandeur to the whole building.
With the exception of certain foundations, no part of the Louvre is older than the time of François I., and most of it belongs to much later days. Though in its present state it is thus of such comparatively recent erection, the Louvre existed long years before the days of the ” Old Régime.”
When or by whom this first Louvre was built, neither historians, architects, nor archæologists have discovered. Nor is the etymology of the name, or why it was applied, any more definitely settled. It has been supposed to be derived from Lupus lupera, and is claimed to have been given because the house at first was a mere hunting-lodge in the middle of the forest, where wolves abounded. Others claim that it was not till Philippe-Auguste that the word was used. Having built what was undoubtedly the most beautiful and important work in Paris, it was natural that he should call it the work, — ” l’oeuvre, quasi chef-d’oeuvre,” from whence Louvre is easily formed. Again, it has been said that the name came from ” robur,” implying the situation of the lodge in the middle of the forest.
Sauvai has a still different opinion, and his conjecture has been accepted by Lebeuf and Jaillot. He declares that an old Latin-Saxon glossary translates the word ” castellum,” fortress, by the word ” leouar,” which, he says, must later have been transformed into Louvre.
All these etymologic discussions, therefore, not only attempt to settle the derivation of the name, but, if any one of the claims could be absolutely verified, the original purpose of the building itself would also be demonstrated. As it is, we do not know whether it was at first a mere hunting-lodge, or whether it was built as a fortress to guard the Seine at that important point against the Norman inroads. Or, its inception may not date much before the first positive account we have of it, which makes it the work of Philippe-Auguste. The fact that, in all the old accounts of his time, the tower is called the new tower, seems to give ground to the supposition that he was rebuilding, rather than creating anew. And, indeed, the weight of authority is largely in favour of this view. If Childebert, in the beginning of the sixth century, was not its founder, at least there is good reason for supposing that Dagobert’s hunting-lodge, in the early part of the seventh century, was none other than this same Louvre. There is even fair ground for believing that as early as Charlemagne the lodge, or fortress, had grown to such proportions that he settled Alcuin and other learned men within it, thus founding the great schools of France.
Sauvai, in the time of Louis XIV., was the first historian to mention the Louvre, except in the briefest terms. It is to him, and others after him, that we are indebted for what we do know of the palace as it was in the thirteenth century. Whether or not there was a Louvre of any prominence when Philippe-Auguste came to the throne in 118o, from his day on the edifice of that name has never ceased to be one of the chief glories of Paris. It was in 1204 that he began the work which the centuries since have not seen finished. To-day, all that is left of his mighty walls and impregnable tower is a part of the deep foundations on the southeast corner of the Old Louvre. But for three hundred years it stood practically as it was built by ” this first of French kings after Charlemagne, who displayed genius for order, reform, and royal independence.”
The Louvre, at the end of his reign, was a great tower, situated in the centre of a square court, with its four sides enclosed by four lines of two-storied buildings. The tower had a conical roof of many coloured tiles, and was surmounted by a huge and brilliant weathercock. Within were numerous apartments, including a chapel and a vault for treasure. Here, too, were the rooms where the lords of France came to pay their feudal tithes to the king. The court, in the centre of which was the tower, was about a quarter the size of the present inner court of the Old Louvre. It was the space to-day lying between the Pavillon des Arts, and that of L’Horloge. The walls surrounding it were of immense thickness, flanked by a number of towers, and infrequently pierced by narrow openings, with neither sculptures nor ornaments of any sort. The principal towers were placed at the four corners, those near the centre of the façades being lower, and, for the most part, of flat roofs with square battlements. Between two of these lower towers was the principal entrance on the river side. As it stood, the Louvre of Philippe-Auguste was a palace, a fortress and a dungeon, so constructed as to make its aspect most formidable. Sauvai has unearthed documents which go to prove that the great central tower measured 144 feet in circumference, and ninety-six feet in height, with walls thirteen feet thick. Its only direct communication with the buildings of the court was by an elevated gallery. From the time of Philippe-Auguste, during the next three hundred years, many noted prisoners were confined here, and it is said that when François I. began the destruction of this dungeon tower, a great clamour arose among the Parisians. For years, one of the joys of the populace had been to watch the varions imprisoned princes walking about the .parapets, and they strongly objected to its curtailment.
The first sovereign after Philippe-Auguste to make additions to the Louvre, was his grandson, good King Louis. He built, on the first floor of a western wing, an immense hall, seventy-two feet long by forty-two wide, which for years after was called by his name. From his time to 1364, nothing of any importance was added. In that year Charles V. came to the throne, and he was no less energetic and revolutionary in the changes he made in his palace than he was in those he inaugurated in the state. Charles the Wise was one who, though physically weak and of not overpowering mental strength, knew enough to surround himself with, and to be guided by, men of real power and intellect. He it was who recognized the great abilities of Du Guesclin, the man who succeeded in ridding France of those fearful free companies, that for years had plundered and pillaged the whole country unpunished, and who brought back to the Crown town after town that had established its independence.
When, in 1380, Charles died, he had, as Mr. Watson pithily summarizes, ” abolished every tax not authorized by the national assembly, had amassed a treasure of seventeen million livres, great for that time, had collected a library of 910 volumes, which became the nucleus of the national library, and had commenced the building of the Bastile, the fortress-prison so ominously identified with French history.” If he was interested in beginning this famous prison, he was no less anxious to remove the jail-like aspect of his palace. He raised the walls, increased the tower, made the exterior more graceful in line and form, gave the towers various shapes, and put all kinds of sculptured figures over the different stones, and enclosed the whole within the city walls. Within, the changes were still more wonderful. The great hall of St. Louis had fallen into ruins, and he repaired that, still retaining the saintly king’s name. The rooms designed for official ceremonies were decorated most magnificently, and the royal apartments, especially those of the queen, Jeanne de Bourbon, were lavishly ornamented with sculptures, paintings, tapestries, and rare inlays. The furniture was more luxurious than any so far seen. There was one room, the Chambre aux Joyaux, where the king placed his objects of art, and where, filling two stories of a tower called the Tour de la Libraire, were the manuscripts that made his library. This was lighted by chandeliers and lamps, enabling him to read all night. Sixty years after his death his priceless collection of manuscripts was sold at a ridiculously low price to the Duke of Betfort, and was thus lost to France for ever) About the palace the king laid out most beautiful gardens, and among them, and more or less attached to the palace proper, were all sorts of out-buildings for the proper running of his establishment, such as the creamery, the pastry-house, the falconry, etc. As Charles knew how to choose Du Guesclin for general and adviser in state matters, so he knew whom to select for head architect. Raymond du Temple was the master of all these works, and the way he carried out his designs more than justified the king’s judgment in placing him at their head. (One of the chief marvels that he constructed was a circular stairway, of 124 steps, admirably planned and decorated, and attached to one of the façades of the court. This was not destroyed until the time of Louis XIII during the reconstruction of the Louvre by Lemercier.
For a century and a half after the death of Charles V. the Louvre was left to a desolation that finally threatened the destruction even of the halls themselves. Charles VI. and Isabelle, his queen, made at first a few short stays there, during one of which was born Princess Catherine who married Henry V. of England. The only additions this son of Charles the Wise made were to its fortifications, to do which he destroyed the garden of the king and queen on the banks of the Seine. For nearly the entire forty-two years of this debauched, debased, ruinous, mad reign, the Louvre was uninhabited, and left to a desolation in which, indeed, all Paris shared. In 1438, it is said, twenty-four thousand houses stood empty in the city, and in the streets wolves prowled unafraid.) During the reigns of Charles VI., Louis XI Charles VIII., and Louis XII., Les Tournelles was the royal residence. For all those years, nevertheless, the Louvre was the scene of many important events. In 1358, when John of England was a captive, the bourgeois of Paris, who upheld the deputies of the Communes against the general government, besieged and entered the Louvre, expelled the governor, and took to the Hôtel de Ville all ,the arms and munitions found in the arsenal. During the reign of Charles VI., when the king was combatting the insurrection of Flanders, the Parisians revolted also, and would have torn down the tower of both Louvre and Bastile, had not Le Flamand counselled them so effectually to delay, that their plan was never carried out. In 1399, Androuin, and in 1400, Manuel Paléologue, both Emperors of Constantinople, were lodged at the Louvre, as well as the Emperor Sigismond, in 1415, and the King and Queen of England, in 1422. From Louis XII. the officers of the Provost of Paris obtained permission to transport to the Louvre their tribunal and their prisons, while they repaired the ” Châtelet,” which was fast going to wreck.
Finally came François I. This king, who had neither honour nor gratitude, morality nor decency, swaggered through a reign of bloodshed, fanaticism, dissoluteness, oppression and devastation, and left what had been a prosperous kingdom in wreck and ruin. Taste for the fine arts, however, François had, and some of the money he wrung from his starving people he lavished on artistic works and their creators. It was to his court that Leonardo came, it was his funds Andrea del Sarto was called guilty of misappropriating, funds which probably, by any moral test, never really belonged to the royal pilferer. He was the first of the French kings to have a great court. Before his day the nobles came to Paris only for state or business reasons, and for limited periods. Now, however, nobles, ladies, scholars, poets, artists, all actually lived in or near the palace, and the king never moved without a great retinue of notables in his train. To maintain such state it was absolutely necessary to have a palace of far greater dimensions and convenience than any then at his disposal. The Louvre by this time had fallen into such wretched condition that to make it habitable it needed rebuilding. It was with the great tower of Philippe-Auguste that François began the demolition. So enormously massive were the walls that it took four months of hard labour besides immense expense, to raze it to the ground. Once this was accomplished, certain repairs to the buildings about the court were undertaken. But the king had too many wars of conquest, oppression and intrigue on hand. The building of a palace became of such minor importance that gradually all work on it ceased, and finally it was once more left to decay and isolation.
Twelve years after, however, Charles V., Emperor of Germany, was planning to pass through the French kingdom on his way to the Netherlands. In spite of various bitter wars between the two, previous to this time, Charles and François were now politically friends. The latter, therefore, determined to lodge the emperor at the Louvre, and to entertain him in a manner that should rival in splendour his greeting to Henry VIII, of England on the Field of the Cloth of Gold. With this in mind, despite the short time intervening before the emperor’s arrival, he commanded a rehabilitation of the Louvre that was nothing short of a resurrection. Windows were enlarged and multiplied, partitions were torn down between rooms and new ones substituted, walls were covered with sculptures, tapestries, and embroideries. Most of the buildings which Charles V. had erected between the river and château were destroyed, and upon the levelled ground took place the plays, the tourneys, and other things pertaining to a magnificent fête. The reception was splendid. Charles V., the whole court, the King and Queen of Navarre, the Duchesse d’Etampes, all remained at the Louvre for many days.
This restoration, nevertheless, was in reality a mere “tour de force,” having nothing of permanence about it. The haste and incompleteness of building left the castle in a less solid condition than before this theatrical splurge was begun. The king himself, though show was ever more his watchword than solidity, realized this, and resolved forthwith on a complete reconstruction. At this time Greek and Roman architecture was succeeding that of the Gothic period. A school of artists at Fontainebleau, under celebrated masters, was already started, and in spite of certain contradictory influences, the art of the Renaissance was in full swing. In the twenty-fifth year of his reign, then, François I. confided the execution of his plans to Pierre Lescot, Abbé de Clagny, an architect of some renown. With him were associated the sculptors Jean Bullant, Philibert Delorme, Jean Goujon, and Paolo Ponzio, all leaders of the new and vigorous school. Lescot fairly bubbled over with ideas of richness and beauty. With the assistance of Goujon and Ponzio, his plan was to be a complete expression of the French Renaissance. Exactly what these plans were, it is now impossible to decide. They were most lamentably lost, and insufficient historical data exist concerning them. But it is pretty certain that the ancient dimensions of the Louvre were to be respected, and that whenever possible, the new walls were to be raised on the old foundations. It is known also that the tops of the building were sharply crenelated, and that at the four angles, conforming to the French traditions, were to be four large, square pavilions, of which one alone, Pavillon du Roi, exists to-day ; and that is almost lost in the massive framing of the Salle des Sept Cheminées. Also, it is known that the exterior of the palace was to be in a sober, contained style, Lescot reserving for the interior façades Ponzio’s and Goujon’s chefs-d’oeuvre of sculpture.
Work was commenced in 1540 by the demolition of the western wing, which contained the grand hall of St. Louis and the library of Charles V. The foundations of these were so solid that Lescot kept them for his new constructions. This fact, attested by the old registries of the Chambre des Comptes, the great wall of the façade which faced the Tuileries itself confirms. Up to the rez-de-chaussée it is of an even and unbroken thickness, exceeding six feet. Lescot conducted the building of the western wing with greatest care. When, in 1547, François I. died, it was still incomplete. Indeed, little of the real work was accomplished. Only one bit was entirely finished. That was the reconstruction of one of the principal corner courts of Charles V., called La Cour aux Offices, which was destroyed in the reign of Louis XIV.
During the twelve years’ reign of Henri II., from 1547 to 1559, Lescot continued his labours uninterruptedly. A year was given to finishing the western wing, but the sculptures of it were not done till two years later. Paolo Ponzio had charge of decorating the attic, whose finish of detail and perfection of design we admire to-day. The other parts were left to Goujon, who was murdered while there at work during the massacre of St. Bartholomew. When Henri II. was accidentally killed in tournament by Montgomery, the Pavilion du Roi had been completed, and the eastern wing parallel to the river was carried up to the second story. His death was most unfortunate for the Louvre. Had he lived to his father’s age, there is no doubt but that Lescot would have completed the work so ably begun. The seventeen months, during which his son François IL, the sickly youth of seventeen, reigned, saw no appreciable changes in Lescot’s plans. But after his death, after the ill-fated bride, Mary, had sailed back to her Scottish home, the state was in the hands of the queen of Henri II., acting as regent for her nine-year-old son Charles IX. Like all Italians, Catherine de’ Medici had a taste for art. But it was a taste always subordinated to the caprices of an unquiet nature, which loved the legitimate in art as little as in life. She had not the slightest intention of following docilely her husband’s example, of continuing patiently a work which at the best offered little to a woman always most attracted by the new. It is not surprising, therefore, that she interrupted in the very début of her reign the projects of the dead king. Her first aim was to make the Louvre habitable.
The tournament in which Henri II. was killed took place at Tournelles, the royal residence during the reigns of Charles VI., Charles VII., Louis XI., Charles VIII., Louis XII., François I., and Henri II. As an evidence of. her great grief at her husband’s death Catherine had had the palace torn down. This made it all the more necessary to hasten operations at the Louvre. The works in course of building were stopped, the sculptures left unfinished, and all activity was concentrated upon the preparations for habitation. She pushed these rapidly, and little by little the Louvre was made ready to receive the court.
The appearance of the building at this time was strange enough. At the north and east were the severe lines of Philippe-Auguste and Charles V., with their towers, ogives, bridges, turrets, pinnacles and weathercocks. These faced the calm lines of Lescot’s new wing but recently finished, with its admirable sculpture of Paolo Ponzio and Jean Goujon. Then, at the south, in the midst of materials and rubbish of all kinds, Catherine started a wing of two stories, which became afterward a part of the southern wing that joined the Tuileries and Louvre. There was, however, no attempt at joining it harmoniously, or even decently, with the rest. One part was hitched on to another by provisional constructions that produced, it is true, a certain picturesque effect; but it is of course evident that Lescot had been allowed no say about it at all. In fact, the great architect had been ignored, his advice not even asked. Even after the queen mother was once settled in the palace he was not permitted to proceed with his plans. They were altogether too excellent for her erratic taste. She chose her own way, and her own architects, men of far inferior talent to the one so summarily dismissed. Following the Pavillon du Roi, and perpendicularly to the Seine, she began the building of a rez-de-chaussée, surmounted by a flat roof. The lining wall of an ancient ditch which served as foundation seemed her sale reason for constructing as she did. On the long flat roof of this latest addition, Charles IX. was accustomed daily to walk ; and it was from a balcony there that he has been said to have given the signal for the massacre of St. Bartholomew. The only objection to this is that such a balcony did not exist in his time. It was not till nearly the end of the century that Henri IV. surmounted the roof by a story which was called the ” Petite Galerie,” or ” Galerie des Rois,” which afterward became the ” Galerie d’Apollon.”
Catherine’s plans were followed not only during the minority of Charles IX., but throughout the reign of both himself and his brother Henri III. Considering that even in most important matters of state these two vacillating kings were continually checked and counter-checked by their unscrupulous mother, there is no reason for doubting that if she had chosen to build a veritable Tower of Babel, she would have achieved her design.
When Henri IV. began his reign, that apostle and defender of the Protestant party, who was actually crowned only after he had officially renounced his Protestantism, Catherine was dead. Jean Goujon had belonged to the party this Henri of Navarre had so long championed, and it might be supposed the new monarch would have returned to the style of building that sculptor had so ably decorated. But there was now no great architect living. Lescot, Delorme and Bullant were all gone. Androuet du Cerceau alone was left. Whether with his advice or not, Henri determined to build, not on to the unfinished quadrangle of Lescot, but a wing, that, starting from the southern corner of the Tuileries, should join Catherine’s southwestern extension of the Louvre. Partly, at least, under Du Cerceau’s direction, the great Pavillon de Flore at the corner of the Tuileries, and as much of the Long Gallery as reaches to the Pavillon de Lesdiguières was accomplished. Henri’s open statement concerning this wing was that it was constructed ” to adorn the quays.” Actually, it was more for the purpose of preparing a way of escape for him-self, should occasion demand it. The Long Gallery was finished in 1608. As has been noted, to Henri IV. also was due the Galerie d’Apollon.
The future Louis XIII. was only nine when Henri IV. was assassinated in 161o. During the regency of his mother, Marie de’ Medici, all work on the Louvre was stopped. Once he himself held the reins of state, or perhaps more correctly, when Richelieu held them, building was again energetically resumed, and this time admirably carried on. The plans of Lescot now seemed decidedly inadequate. The King of France, it was declared, should have the finest palace in Europe. Lemercier, chosen by Richelieu as architect, proposed to leave intact the two façades of Lescot, making as they did a right angle, and bounding what was the south and west side of the original court of the Louvre. The old north and east wings he destroyed. His intent was to continue the two façades of Lescot, making each twice their completed length, but reproducing in the prolongation the architecture of the already existing part. Then he planned to join to these on-the east and north, two other wings, equal in dimensions to the first two. By this plan, the extent of the buildings was doubled and the court quadrupled. The only innovation which Lemercier permitted himself was the addition to the four great pavilions of the first design, of which only one in the southwest angle, called the Pavillon du Roi, was already built, four other pavilions of the same importance and height, placed in the centre of each of the four façades, and thus agreeably interrupting the uniformity of the lines so greatly prolonged. This plan was adopted, and its execution commenced in 1624. On the 28th of June of that year the first stone was laid with much pomp and ceremony by Louis XIII. Shortly afterward the Pavillon de l’Horloge was erected. This, Lescot had originally intended to be the northwestern corner of his square. Now it became the central one of the western wing. Lemercier’s model was the one Lescot had built at the southwest corner. From this central pavilion to the extremity of the northwestern end of the façade, Lemercier faithfully reproduced the model left him by Lescot. Then in the corner of that façade he built a new pavilion of like character to the Pavillon du Rai, and began the wing that returns on the north. This he carried through hardly half-way, and but to the first floor.
During the minority of Louis XIV., work in the Louvre was confined to decorating the interiors. Upon his coming of age, and after the death of Lemercier, Fouquet, superintendent, chose Levau as his successor. Levan continued the northern wing, and then commenced the prolongation of the southern. On the inner side he reproduced the architecture of the part already completed. On the river side, however, he made some innovations. Against his central pavilion, for instance, he placed six great Corinthian columns, equal in height to the two first stories of the edifice. This entire wing was nearly finished by 1663. There remained only the completion of the eastern end, which was to be the principal entrance to the Louvre. Levau had his designs ready, and had begun to lay his foundations when Colbert was named superintendent of the royal buildings.
For reasons best known to himself Colbert professed to believe that it was quite possible to find an architect of more ability and originality than Levau. Perhaps he knew that some daring innovation on his part would make him more pleasing in the sight of that king whom Bolingbroke epitomized as ” the best actor of majesty the world had ever seen,” and who demanded on the part of his subjects not only abject servility, but never-ceasing change and amusement. At all events, Colbert called for plans for the completion of the Louvre quadrangle from all the architects of France. Among the drawings submitted was one that attracted particular attention. It represented a long series of Corinthian columns, joined two by two, and resting upon an immense basement. Under the entablature which was carried by these principal columns, and formed the roof, was a simple line of open balusters. This original, imposing plan was not by an architect, but by a doctor, Claude Perrault. Colbert was charmed, and wished to adopt it, but before deciding upon such a radical departure he sent to Poussin in Rome the plans of Levan and others of the contestants. Perrault’s, however, he did not forward. Poussin returned the plans, overwhelmed with criticisms, but added to them new ones of his own. These pleased neither Colbert nor Louis.
At this juncture a new claimant appeared. Bernini, ” that prince of mediocrity,” though now an old man, was still pretty generally considered the greatest living architect. Colbert was pressed by the Abbé Benedetti and the Cardinal Chigi, and finally by Pope Alexander VII. to put the Louvre into his hands. The minister was too much of a Frenchman to acquiesce with unalloyed delight, but at last, urged thereto by the king, he commissioned the Duc de Créquy, ambassador at Rome, to beg the famous man to come to Paris. In his own estimation Bernini was fully as great as he was in the estimation of the world generally, The Duc de Créquy could not persuade him that it would be possible for him to make such an arduous journey till the king himself had sent an autograph letter personally requesting the inestimable favour of his presence and advice. This, of course, brought the Italian. He found it was not altogether easy sailing, however, once he was on French soil. His plans were received with, to him, incredible criticism, and the opposition grew at length so strong that finally the king gave him a large present and a pension and sent him home.
After this Colbert hesitated no longer. Perrault began the work, and the first stone was laid by Louis XIV. on October 17, 1665. Owing to the enormous activity of Colbert the new façade was finished in 167o. The lower part making the base was a smooth wall pierced by twenty-three openings. Above this were fifty-two columns and pilasters of Corinthian order, joined two by two. The same order and the arrangement of coupling were repeated in the two corner pavilions. In the base of the central pavilion, opening into the rue de Louvre, was put the principal entrance of the palace.
With an imposing and monumental aspect, the colonnade is marked with great nobleness and grandeur. Nevertheless, it has been the subject of much criticism. Among other things, it is said that it is difficult to justify the situation of that immense portico in the first story ; second, the interruption of the same story by the over-elevation of the principal portal, is a grave fault; third, the whole façade is not in harmony with the style of the four interior façades that make the admirable court of the Louvre ; and, fourth, the architectural forms of the colonnade are not suitable for the materials used, compelling recourse to artificial consolidations, which is contrary to the principles of the art of building.
In spite of these just criticisms, many authorities return to the opinion that the work of Perrault is among the most original and remarkable of modern architects. For long regarded as the chef-d’oeuvre without equal, it has, as has been said, exercised upon the architecture in France an influence that is considerable and that still endures.
Perrault had no sooner finished the colonnade than he began to occupy himself with joining it to the former constructions. By 168o, however, Louis had tired of the Louvre, and was wholly absorbed with the building plans for Versailles. There was no money left for Paris, and finally, when in 1688 Perrault died, the great palace was once more abandoned. From then till Marigny was made director of fine arts in 1754, the Louvre was a place of desolation. Rooms in it were let out to needy hangers-on of the court, to artists, and to nondescripts of all sorts. No care was taken of interior or exterior, no repairs of any kind made. In the courts and gardens all sorts of rickety buildings were erected for all sorts of purposes, some leaning against the palace walls, others huddled in groups outside the gates. That which for centuries had been the pride of royalty became a squatting-ground for the petty merchant, the fakir, the mendicant.
Perhaps the names of Pompadour and Du Barry best recall that puppet king whose jaunty phrase, ” Après moi le déluge,” was so typical of all the selfish callousness, not only of himself, but of the epoch. It is rather surprising, considering the nature of Louis XV., that he took any interest in the gaunt, gloomy palace he kept away from. Nevertheless, Marigny persuaded him to sanction his plans for putting it into some kind of reputable condition. Gabriel superintended the new work. He continued the three exterior façades in the style that had so far governed, but he introduced certain changes in the great vestibule which to-day looks over the rue de Marengo, a vestibule commenced by Lemercier, continued by Perrault, and not entirely finished in decoration until Soufflot. In spite of Mariguy’s efforts, in 1774, when the ill-fated Louis XVI. succeeded, the condition of the palace of his ancestors was not unlike the state in which he found his king-dom. If the former was not tottering to its very foundations, it was at least despoiled of all its grandeur. Its walls were almost lost in the clustering buildings that barnacle-like clung to its sides to a height far above the rez-de-chaussée. Louis XVI. had his hands too full of other threatening ruin to do much for the palace. Nevertheless, he ordered the courts cleared so far as possible of this rubbish of years, and put architect Brébion in charge of what alterations could be attempted. Brébion succeeded in finishing the new vestibule, which was opened on the Seine side almost on the identical spot where had been the ancient door of Charles V. But the days had come when the Old Régime was to build no more. Perishing in the flames of its own oppression, callousness, wantonness and ignorance, it was to be held for three years a quaking prisoner in the palace it had meant to make one with this most ancient seat of its forbears.
From early in the reign of Louis XVI., and during all the scenes of horror of the Revolution, the Louvre was left to a destruction that made its condition in the days of Pompadour and Du Barry seem respectable. In the court and all through the Place du Carrousel, the dirty, low, tumbledown houses, shops and stables grew apace, crowding against each other, making narrow, refuse-filled alleys, clinging like leeches to the palace walls, darkening all its windows, till, as one writer puts it, the whole conglomeration was like a rag fair rather than a famous palace and its environs. But within the building itself, the desecration was even worse. Where before had been a few artists and court pensionnaires, the rooms now fairly swarmed with a herd of dirty, impoverished disreputables of all conditions. If there were some able artists and writers among the lot, even they could not be said to show any reverence or care for the palace they were helping to destroy. Windows were blocked up and torn down. Partition walls were bored through to make ugly entrances, and the enormous galleries were divided and subdivided by hastily erected partitions that were constructed regardless of the ruin of beautiful carving or decoration. The halls were piled with refuse and plunder, tottering stairways were thrown up anywhere, cutting through ceilings or floors without compunction. Out of the windows iron stovepipes belched smoke and soot into the very eyes of passers-by. Before long the lower halls were used for stables, and everywhere was pandemonium. To such estate had fallen the palace which François I. planned should be a Renaissance dream of beauty. And apparently no one cared. The very artists were helping to make it hideous. It was during these years of neglect that the ditch and the entire substructure of both Lemercier’s and Perrault’s work got entirely buried beneath the rubbish that was continually piled higher and higher. This substructure was finally forgotten, and it was not till the later part of 1903 that, through M. Redon, it was once more partly brought to light.
No sooner had the Republic arisen from the ruins that had created it, than the restoration of the Louvre became one of its chief objects. First was cleared out the army of pensioners and noble beggars, only the artists and their ateliers being allowed to remain. David was at this time the most distinguished occupant of these. Finally, under the consulate, nearly all the painters were transferred to the Sorbonne, and the whole palace was given up to the treasures that Napoleon’s triumphs secured. These, it was determined, should be properly and beautifully housed in the Louvre for the benefit of the people. Raymond, and later, Percier and Fontaine, were charged with the task of reconstructing the rooms and halls. By 1803, working with extraordinary vigour, they had entirely remodelled the great gallery where were to be placed the works of the Italian School. Napoleon as First Consul, and as Emperor, carried on the work the Republic had begun. With much bad taste, however, he went against the advice of the architects who wished to continue the plans of Lescot in the attic of the wings. He determined instead, on all sides except the west, to build a third story after the plans of Perrault. Thus came the end of that nobly harmonious Court of the Louvre. Besides adding this story to the quadrangle of the Louvre, he purposed to throw out a line of buildings that would join the Louvre to the Tuileries on the north, as it was already joined on the south. Percier and Fontaine had charge of the plans, which they prepared and showed to the government in 1813. But Napoleon’s overthrow pre-vented their fulfilment.
When Louis XVIII. became head of the reconstructed monarchy, he continued the work on the Louvre. The sculptures on the walls of the court were finished, and the rooms in the first story of all four wings were prepared to receive their decorations.
Under Charles X. these were executed with great richness, both with painting and sculpture. Finally, after the unstable, phoenix-like nation had recovered from the revolution of 1830, and Louis Philippe was at the head of the government, came again the question of joining the Tuileries and Louvre on the north. M. Thiers, then minister, presented the project to the Chambers, demanding a hundred million francs for the many monuments necessary if the continuation was completed. The mere building of the wings that should unite the two would cost but fourteen millions. The scheme did not become fact, and it was practically the same one that Comte Jaubert brought up in 1843. Four days after the revolution of 1848, a decree emanating from the government ordered the completion of the Louvre, now called the Palace of the People. General Cavaignac the same year put to vote a bill proposing the restoration of the two great salons of the Louvre and of the Galerie d’Apollon. It was M. Duban, architect, who superintended this restoration in a most intelligent manner. Then the Assembly tried to carry through the old project of the 28th of February, after the revolution of 1848, of joining the Tuileries and Louvre. The plan submitted was by M. Visconti, and is essentially what we now see, with only slight modifications. This Assembly, however, did not act upon it, and it was left for the next to ratify it.
Napoleon III. was now emperor, and whatever crimes may be laid at his door, he at least was earnest in his desire to beautify Paris. Work was commenced on the Louvre July 25, 1854, under the direction and after the plans of Visconti. Dying at the end of that year, he was succeeded by M. Lefuel, who at certain points slightly modified the designs of his predecessor. Five years after all the constructions were finished.
To unite the Tuileries and Louvre, they began by clearing the Carrousel of the parasitic buildings that still encumbered it, and then proceeded to finish the northern wing which Napoleon I. and Louis XVIII. had only half accomplished. Besides continuing this northern wing till it formed a complete connection between the two palaces, Lefuel threw out from the half nearest the Louvre, short transverse lines to the south, and joined them with a wing that, slightly at an angle to the northern wing, was on an exact line with the northern boundary of the Old Louvre. This arrangement helped to conceal the lack of parallelism between the Tuileries and the Louvre. From the eastern end of the southern long wing, he built a similar construction on the north. In each of these two masses of buildings, the cross-sections made three open courts, which were to be used as gardens. Besides these additions, parts of new interior façades were also added to that portion of the wings nearest the Tuileries.
Considered as a whole, these plans, which in the main are Visconti’s, were such that much of the simple grandeur and fine lines of the old buildings were destroyed. The new façades on the Place du Carrousel were at the same time mean and banal, and of an amplitude and exuberance beyond description. In general, the whole addition has, as has often been noted, an appearance of theatrical decoration without accent or depth, a luxury without reason, a lack of harmony, and a manifest disproportion between the framework and the ornamentation. The six enormous pavilions add to this ruination of pro-portion and measure. They are covered with an incalculable number of ornaments, of a pell-mell of flowers, fruits, garlands, figures, etc., and present immense holes, badly measured arcades and gigantic coronations. Placed in every conceivable spot on the façades of these new buildings are caryatides, colossal statues (among them eighty-six of eminent Frenchmen), and unlimited groups of sculpture, of which sixty-three are of allegorical character. Most of these are far from the highest art achievements and in the main serve only to accentuate the over-elaboration of this Napoleonic structure.
And yet, when every adverse criticism has been made, and most of them even recognized to be just, it is still true, as has been in varying words so often stated, that the Louvre is one of the most beautiful examples of the French Renaissance, and one of the most wonderful palaces in the world. So wonderful and beautiful both in its interior and exterior that the gravest faults of its construction cannot spoil its tremendous worth as a whole.