Click on photos to see enlarged view.
Sculpture of King Louis XIV by Bernini, outside the Louvre
If you study the history of the Louvre (now the world’s largest museum at half a million square feet, but previously French monarchs' royal residence) you will get a pretty good summary of the history of France and Paris.
I, for one, am overwhelmed by all the kings named Louis and queens with “de Medici” at the end of their prenom. It will take time to study it all, but I want to start here with this beautiful sculpture outside the Louvre of Louis XIV by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Some random bits of information:
- The Louvre was first a moated castle with towers on a site called “the Louvre” (origin unknown, though there are theories) commissioned by King Philip Augustus (also known as Philip II, 1165-1223).
- Centuries later Louis XIV (1638-1715), the “Sun King” or “grand monarch,” ruled France 72 years! This is the longest reign of any French or other European monarch in history. It was under this Louis’ long reign that France’s presence was extended to the Americas, Africa and India.
- The sculptor and architect, Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) came to Paris from Italy for a few months to design a new east wing of the Louvre for Louis XIV, but the task ended up being completed by architect Claude Perrault. Bernini’s most famous work, perhaps, is in St. Peter’s basilica in Rome.
I’m sorry that’s all I have time for at the moment. It’s not much, but now I know a little more about the Louvre, one Louis, a sculptor named Bernini and his connection with Paris and the Louvre.
New tidbit found today (5-24-06) at http://artchive.com/artchive/B/bernini.html about the statue pictured here:
"the ostensible reason for [Bernini's] visit, was discarded and his great equestrian statue of the king [at top], eventually delivered at the end of Bernini's life, was dishonoured. Louis did not like it, got one of his hack sculptors to turn it into Marcus Curtius Hurling Himself into the Flames, and relegated it to the garden. There it slowly deteriorated until, in 1980, vandals damaged it so badly that it took eight years to restore. Three copies were made, one for the garden, one for the Louvre, and one for Jackson, Mississippi. The original is so weak it is stored away. Happily, Bernini knew nothing of these insults, dying in an odour of sanctity, having just sketched a projected Christ, which he did not live to sculpt. His chisel had not been idle for seventy five years."
Pavillion of the Louvre, at the end of the Denon wing