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27.11.04

Galerie d'Apollon Renovated

Newspaper Articles

Anne Muratori-Philip, Les mésaventures d'un passage royal

Armelle Héliot, Apollon ou l'apothéose des arts (Le Figaro, November 26)

Anne-Marie Romero, Le sacre du Soleil (Le Figaro, November 26)

Vincent Noce, Le Louvre épate la galerie (Libération, November 24)

Antoine de Baecque, La «fabrique des images» de Louis XIV (Libération, November 24)

Emmanuel de Roux, La galerie d'Apollon, au Louvre, a été réaménagée (Le Monde, November 21)

Véronique Prat, L'extraordinaire décor de la galerie d'Apollon (Le Figaro Magazine, November 21)

Le Louvre réouvre la galerie d'Apollon (streaming video clip from TF1)
Well, after all the MoMA kerfuffle, I've been following the conclusion of the renovation of the Galerie d'Apollon in the Louvre, which opens again to the public today. This magnificent Rococo hall, a room for walking court dogs redesigned by Louis XIV but not completed until the 19th century, is one of the most famous chambers in the museum, perhaps second to the Salon Carré (as painted by Giuseppe Castiglione in 1865, and where Henry James's The American famously opens). After Louis XIV moved the court to Versailles, the Galerie d'Apollon was probably the model for the Galerie des Glaces there.

The decoration has all of the drama and extravagance of the French Baroque, combining 118 sculptures and 28 tapestries with forty-one large canvases, grouped around, of all things, Eugène Delacroix's Apollon vainqueur du serpent Python [Apollo slaying the python], completed in 1851 (see a detail of the restored painting here). Unlike Braque's Les Oiseaux (1953) on the ceiling of the antechamber in the old Louvre (now the Etruscan room: Braque recycled the sketches for the ceiling as lithographs), Delacroix's painting is a masterpiece of Rococo mimicry, harmonizing perfectly with its outlandishly ornate surroundings from two centuries earlier.

The renovation was paid for by the oil company Total, which is getting lots of free advertising as a result, as described by Armelle Héliot in her article (Un mécène indispensable et vigilant, November 26) for Le Figaro:
There is one more decorative element in the Galerie d'Apollon. It makes some clench their teeth, but you would have to be ideologically opposed to think that there is any crime against the spirit in it. The name of Total, very generous benefactor to the Louvre, is in effect inscribed in golden letters to the right of the entrance. For a restoration campaign of 5.2 million € [US$6.92 million], Total gave 4.5 million [US$5.99 million], as we are reminded by Yves Le Goff, public relations director of the company headed by Thierry Desmarets. A remarkable effort right in line with the company's generous politics, expressed not only in the patrimonial domain but also in that of workers' rights, in France as in all the countries where Total employs workers. Health and training benefits, as well as education, are the major areas of an activity we will surely discuss another time.
Well, Le Figaro is surely showing its oft-criticized right-leaning editorial slant here, but at least Total has done something good for the world for once.

Filmmaker Jérôme Prieur's documentary on the restoration, Le réveil d’Apollon, was shown on the Arte network (you lucky Europeans) last night. (You can see four excerpts from it on their Web site.) Thanks to the Louvre's excellent Web site, you can also browse through the paintings and objects in the Galerie d'Apollon, including the stunning jeweled crowns of the French monarchy.

1 comment:

Totalrenovering said...

Thank you for the very interesting article. Keep up the good work.