Bernini, "Third Project for the Louvre, East Elevation," 1665,

Fig. 9. Bernini, “Third Project for the Louvre, East Elevation,” 1665, Private Collection (source–” Gianlorenzo Bernini’s Third Design for the East Facade of the Louvre of 1665, drawn by Mattia de Rossi” by Michael Hall)

Projects for the Louvre: Third Project

Isabel Smith

Bernini left for Paris on April 25, 1665, he had been given six months leave by the Chigi Pope Alexander VII.[1]Bernini arrived in Paris on June 2, 1665, where he immediately began working on a newly discovered third project (fig. 9). [2]Bernini’s third project for the Louvre is dated between June 2and June 7, 1665. This project was left unfinished and it is possible that Bernini had not received Colbert’s criticisms of his second plan until after he began this third project. [3] Once Bernini received Colbert’s criticisms Bernini stopped work on this third project and moved on to the design of the fourth.

In this plan Bernini seems to adapt to the French Academy’s requirements of a strictly classical façade. Bernini abandons the dramatically concave wings that were so reminiscent of the colonnade of St. Peters Basilica. Bernini instead uses the flat façade that can be seen in his final project. The rotunda has returned, but is placed on a projecting pavilion and the wings are have been aligned with the central section. Although it seems that Bernini attempts to incorporate the French style, this design is similar to several Italian Palazzi, such as the Palazzo Barberini in Rome (fig. 10). Both Bernini’s Louvre and the Palazzo Barberini feature a raised central pavilion with wings that protrude out to if not past the pavilion. Colbert never saw this project; it is thought that Bernini left Rome before receiving Colbert’s criticisms for the second project. When Bernini arrived in Paris he began working on his third project, but abandoned it when he received Colbert’s feedback.[4] Although this project was left unfinished, it is an important part of Bernini’s process for designing the Louvre and shows how Bernini’s first project transitioned into his fourth.

"Palazzo Barberini"

Fig. 10. Giovanni Battista Falda and Alessandro Specchi, ” Principal Facade of Palazzo Barberini, ” Princeton University Library, (source Bernini and the Art of Architecture, by T. A. Marder)









[1] Cecil Gould, Bernini in France: An Episode in Seventeenth-Century History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 1

[2] Michael Hall, “ Gianlorenzo Bernini’s Third Design for the East Façade of the Louvre of 1665, Drawn by Mattia De Rossi,” The Burlington Magazine 1 (July 2007),

[3] Hall, 478-480.

[4] Cecil Gould, Bernini in France: An Episode in Seventeenth-Century History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 28.