The immense and harmonious Palais du Louvre is behind the Jardin des
Tuileries. The first stronghold was built in 1200, by Philippe-Auguste.
In 1527, Francois 1st ordored important changes; the protective walls
and the keep of the castle were pulled down.
In the same year Pierre Lescot architect, started building a new palace
on the same spot; sculptures were entrusted to Jean Goujon; when Lescot
died, the new Palace was not yet complete. It grew up slowly under Henri
ll and Henri lll, and when Louis XIV come to the Throne, the old Louvre
still had two gothic facades and two Renaissance ones. Louis Xlll decided
that the Vieux Louvre should be enlarged, and in 1624 he instructed
Le Mercier to erect the Pavillon de l'Horloge.
Under Louis XIV, Le Vau, Le Brun and Perrault undertook vast improvements;
Perrault had a grandiose idea, thought out a totally new style, and
built the « Colonnade ». Work stopped in 1680, when Court
adjourned to Versailles; the Louvre, abandoned, was invaded by all manner
of tenants, who did nothing but disfigure it. Napoléon drove
out intruders and started new improvements. The facades and the Cour
Carrée (quadrangle), were completed by Percier and Fontaine.
Decorations were carried out and the Palace furnished. The Place du
Carrousel was widened and the Arc de Triomphe erected, the Galerie du
Nord (north wing) was begun.
The Palace was finaly completed by Napoléon lll, with the help
of Lefuel, his architect. In 1871, during the days of the Commune, the
Tuileries, abode of the Imperial Family, was burnt down; part of the
Louvre caught fire. Under the lllrd Republic, Lefuel rebuilt those parts
of the Louvre that had been damaged by fire; the Republic had decided
not to rebuild the Palais des Tuileries.
From an architectural standpoint, the Cour Carrée is the most
interesting part of the Louvre; the Renaissance facade designed by Lescot
is a masterpiece of graceful harmony. The sculptures of Jean Goujon
are delighful. The Pavillon de l'Horloge, built in the classical style
by Le Mercier 750 years later matches the Renaissance facade very well.
Though extremely beautiful, the three other façades have lost
the graceful Renaissance features to the more solemn classical style.
It has often been said that the Colonnade which leads out to the Place
du Louvre, in spite of its splendeur and beauty, is out of tune with
the rest of the building. The majestic classical facade designed by
Perrault overlooks the Quai du Louvre, and is connected to the Galerie
du Bord de l'Eau (waterside gallery) by a beatiful sober building with
the famous Galerie d'Apollon .