Friday, July 12, 2013

Louvre: Apartments of Napoleon III

One thing not to miss at the Louvre, out of many items not to miss, are the state apartments of Napoleon III. I've visited a lot of opulent places in my travels but never seen something on this scale and so completely over the top.
Built between 1854 and 1861 by the architect Hector Lefuel, the set of rooms was basically built for partying and entertaining. How could you fail to impress guests of the State when this is the setting?
Long hallways lead you past anterooms designed for large scale gatherings through a stately enfilade until you reach the Grand Salon.
 Every square inch is ornate; designed to within an inch of its life. And it's totally magnificent.
The ceiling of the Grand Salon is a painting by Charles-Raphael Marechal depicting the building of the wing itself:  The Reuniting of the Louvre and the Tuileries by Napoleon III.
I love the filtered light through the many windows. The low light from the now electrified chandliers almost appears as candlelight at this time of day.
 The view out the windows isn't so bad either.
I loved this little side table nestled between pilasters; a perfect spot to place your drink at a party or more likely for a candelabra.
 Small rooms dot the enfilade, such as this card playing chamber.
 The small dining room features magnificent wall murals.
The apartments have been faithfully restored and the upholstery and gilding looks brand new; probably the same as in the 1860s (minus the smog).
The grand dining room features an immense table and a ceiling painted by Eugene Appert depicting exotic birds in flight.
 The paneled opening at the end of the dining room sets the symmetry of the space as the entry is off center.
The large sideboard of course would have been loaded with cut glass, silver, and exotic fruits to impress guests.
This service hall of sorts runs the length of the apartments and dining room. Even the underside of the circular stair is decorated; no detail overlooked.
 At the end of the apartments is a gilded bed and balustrade from the throne room of Napoleon I. Not your standard 1 bedroom apartment.
Before visiting the Louvre, make sure the apartments of Napoleon III are open on the day of your visit as they close periodically.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Grand Stair: Escalier du Ministre, Louvre

While in Paris everyone will say to visit the apartments of Napoleon III at the Louvre. They're right, it's amazing! On the way to his private apartments you will pass through the Escalier du Ministre which is worth a blog post in its own right before moving onto the apartments themselves.
Originally the staircase was part of the ceremonial apartments of the minister of state. These were built to impress those who came for parties and on affairs of state and impress they do!
Napoleon III hired the architect Hector Martin Lefuel to design the "New Louvre" wing, now known in part as the Richelieu wing. Construction of the wing was at the height of the 2nd Empire period, 1854-1857.
Afterwards the staircase was decorated by a number of artists until 1861. I can see what took them so long! I love the chandelier and huge sconces built by Christofle and designed by the sculptor Morand.
The 2 stunning paintings at the top of the stair are by Charles-Francois d'Aubigny and depict the gardens of the Tuileries and the palace.
 I love these interior doors found throughout Paris, I say we bring them back into current fashion!
Next up the apartments of Napoleon III.
Click the photos to see larger in detail.