Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte and King Louis XIV each reveled in the perfectly manicured grounds of the Tuileries Garden at different points in history. Today, more than 10 million visitors stroll through the famous Parisian park annually. And from Feb. 13 – May 11, 2014, the Toledo Museum of Art will bring this remarkable urban space to life stateside with the major international exhibition The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden, organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the Portland Art Museum, Oregon and the Toledo Museum of Art, with the special collaboration of the Musée du Louvre.
The majority of the works, most never before exhibited in the United States, will be on loan from the vast collections of the Louvre, with some from the Musée Carnavalet, the Palace of Versailles, other museums and private lenders.
“Our collaboration with the Louvre is a splendid moment for both institutions,” said TMA Director Brian Kennedy. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Louvre’s history and to enable our audience to see works of art they would otherwise have to travel to Paris to view. It will bring a bit of the magic of the Tuileries to Toledo.”
TMA’s Libbey Court and Canaday Gallery will dramatically showcase more than 100 works related to the garden and palace of the Tuileries, including large-scale sculptures created between the 17th and 20th centuries by such noted artists as Antoine Coysevox and Aristide Maillol. There will also be more than two dozen paintings (including six by Impressionist artists), architectural models, historic and recent photographs, a tapestry and prints. The unique collection will offer an opportunity to see a slice of the garden that inspired everyone from Impressionist Camille Pissarro to photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.
The Tuileries has a long and storied history. Originally commissioned in 1564 by dowager queen Catherine de Medici, it combined a magnificent palace and an extensive formal garden. In the mid-17th century Louis XIV (the “Sun King”) ordered its expansion and extraordinary embellishment. André Le Nôtre (1613 – 1700), designer of the renowned gardens of Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte, ingeniously designed and realized the grand project.
In part, the exhibition celebrates the career of Le Nôtre—generally regarded as the greatest landscape architect in European history—on the 400th anniversary of his birth. His design for the Tuileries Garden richly combined magnificent vistas, lawns, fountains, hedges, pathways, flowerbeds, terraces and wooded areas, all of the ensemble embellished with sculpture.
Residents of the famous Tuileries Palace included several French kings—Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI—as well as Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte. While the palace was internationally noted for its elegance and royal associations, an uprising of 1871 saw it gutted by fire. The palace lay empty and desolate until 1883, when the government of the Third Republic ordered its demolition. Today, a lawn connecting the westernmost pavilions of the Louvre marks its original site. Prints, vintage photographs and a scale model will trace the history, grand style and ghostly presence of the historic structure.
The Tuileries Garden—now integrated with the magnificent courtyard of the Louvre and featuring more than a hundred sculptures and three art galleries—remains the largest green space in the heart of Paris. This special exhibition at TMA will provide a rare opportunity to experience a small part of this monumental French hallmark.
The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden will be presented at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art from Nov. 3, 2013 to Jan. 19, 2014, and at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon from June 14 – Sept. 28, 2014.
The Toledo showing of The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden is presented in part by The Andersons, Brooks Insurance and Taylor Cadillac. It is also made possible with the support of the Ohio Arts Council through a sustainability grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by members of the Toledo Museum of Art.