The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden Brings Romantic Paris to the Midwest

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When it comes to daily life in the capital of France, the Tuileries Garden has always been something of a theater, the stage for everything from the political intrigue of 17th-century royals to the leisure activities of 21st-century citizens.

Now, the Parisian park can be experienced at the Toledo Museum of Art with the major international exhibition The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden, on view Feb. 13 – May 11, 2014. 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 Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden presents a rare chance to experience the design and art of a pivotal Parisian public space.

“If you know the Louvre and you know the Tuileries, you know the history of Paris,” said Richard Putney, co-curator of the exhibition and a University of Toledo professor of art history. “It’s arguably the most important space in the city.”

One hundred works related to the garden will be on display, including large-scale sculptures, paintings, photographs, prints and architectural models. On loan from the vast collections of the Louvre, as well as the Musée Carnavalet, the Palace of Versailles, and other museums and private lenders, many have never before been exhibited outside Paris.

The garden has served as a muse to artists across more than four centuries. Sculptors punctuated the greenery with their renderings of Greek and Roman myths. Painters, like Impressionists Camille Pissarro and Childe Hassam, looked upon the Tuileries from high vistas and captured its visitors through their energetic brush strokes. And photographers from Brassaï to Henri Cartier-Bresson shot the garden in the 20th century, transmitting its magic through their lenses. Their works are among the many that will be examined in this exhibition.

But the Tuileries has not only been an idyllic gallery and inspirational model for artists. It has endured the brunt of class politics, revolution and religious strife as well. Originally commissioned in 1564 by dowager queen Catherine de Medici, it was created to serve as the adjacent garden to her magnificent palace. The Tuileries served as the struggling widow’s playground for hosting lavish parties that would establish her influence amid European nobility.

The palace stood until 1871, when it was burned during a violent uprising in Paris, leading to its eventual demolition in 1882. Before its demise, many of French history’s most extravagant characters lived there and strolled through its garden: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte, among them. The exhibition will explore the garden’s storied past, as well as its art.

“It’s a splendid moment for both institutions—the Toledo Museum of Art and the Louvre,” said Museum Director Brian Kennedy. “This collaboration offers a rare chance to bring the magic of the Tuileries to Toledo.”

The exhibition is presented in part by The Andersons, Brooks Insurance and Taylor Cadillac. It is also supported in part by an Ohio Arts Council sustainability grant and Toledo Museum of Art members.

Admission to the exhibition is free for Toledo Museum of Art members. For nonmembers, tickets are $8.50 for adults and $5.50 for students and seniors 65 and older.

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