Projects for the Louvre: Conclusion

Isabel Smith

When Louis XIV began his personal rule in 1661, he was presented with the challenge of establishing himself as a strong monarch, capable of ruling France without the assistance of a Chief Minister. As patrons of the arts, Louis XIV and his advisor Jean-Baptiste Colbert chose to express the King’s greatness through art and architecture. When in the 1660s the completion of the Louvre was considered Colbert turned to Italy, hopeful that an Italian would be able to produce a design for the east façade of the Louvre that would utilize the severe classical style that Colbert and Louis desired. Bernini’s earlier three projects for the Louvre failed to meet Colbert’s standards, but his fourth and final project did meet these requirements and although it was never built it influenced later buildings in the Louis XIV style, as seen in the garden façade of Versailles. Ultimately, Bernini’s plans for the Louvre did not fail because he could not adhere to the standards of French art, but rather that if Louis had allowed an Italian architect to build perhaps the greatest monument of French power he would alienate himself from the French people.