Project Description

Between the years 1664 and 1665 Gianlorenzo Bernini produced four projects for the Louvre. In the fall of 1665 the foundation for Bernini’s Louvre was laid, but in the spring of 1667 construction stopped and a panel was brought in to revise Bernini’s plans. Although the Louvre was eventually finished, King Louis XIV abandoned his plans for the Louvre in favor of Versailles. Scholars have speculated that Bernini’s inability to adapt his style to the Parisian ideal as well as his overall attitude towards the French caused him to lose favor with the king and his court. To an extent these speculations are correct; however, Bernini was approached to draw projects for the Louvre during a time when French ideologies were changing: Louis XIV had introduced an absolute monarchy; France was at war; and the popularity of nationalism was rising. As King of France it was Louis XIV’s goal to present himself as a grand monarch, but it was also important for the king to align himself with his people. Bernini’s plans for the Louvre, although grand, were expensive and differed from the standards of the reason-based French Academy of Art. Ultimately, Bernini’s plans for the Louvre and his portrait bust and equestrian statue of the King failed because King Louis XIV and his advisor Jean-Baptiste Colbert believed it could only hinder the monarch’s success.