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Rebuilding the Tuileries Palace

Palais des Tuileries, Paris, 1871, historical photograph in the Charles Deering McCormick Library, Northwestern University
Palais des Tuileries, Paris, 1871, historical photograph in the Charles Deering McCormick Library, Northwestern University
Over two years ago, I wrote about the crazy dream project to reconstruct the Palais des Tuileries, destroyed by the Commune de Paris. In an article (Tuileries : un pas de plus vers la reconstruction, August 10) in Le Figaro, Anne-Marie Romero brings us up to date on the plans (my translation):
Some people are stubborn about their passions. Alain Boumier, president of the Académie du Second Empire, is one of them. With an unfailing obstinacy, he has fought for years to obtain the reconstruction of the Palais des Tuileries. His perseverance has borne fruit. On June 9 last year, the Journal officiel published a decree dated June 6 that created a commission of eight members, under the Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, charged with studying the details of such a project. It is made up of, among other personalities, the usual suspects in this kind of project, Maurice Druon, Erik Orsenna, Jean Tulard, and Ambassador Jean Guéguinou.

"On June 28, 1882," Alain Boumier explains, "Jules Ferry gave the order to have the ruins of the burned Tuileries taken away, the only real way, he said, to accomplish the reconstruction. Jules Ferry was overturned shortly after, but all that we are asking today is that the Ve République honors the promises made by the IIIe." This promise by the government has been reiterated many times: first in 1960 by General de Gaulle, who wanted "to make a jewel in the center of Paris," as his son, Admiral Philippe de Gaulle, has confirmed with Alain Boumier; then by Philippe Séguin, in 1994, when he was president of the Assemblée nationale, in front of 600 members of the Académie du Second Empire, which was celebrating its 25th birthday; finally, in 2002, by Jean-Jacques Aillagon, who agreed in principle, on the condition that the government was not responsible for it. In 2004, strengthened by this good will, a National Committee for the reconstruction of the Tuileries was created, with the participation of all of the people today named to this commission.
Boumier insists that no money will be needed from the government, whose budget for historical monuments is already strapped for cash. He will raise money from private donors and other means. What will the reconstructed building look like? Exactly like the original, says Boumier. There are extensive plans of the palace, along with almost all of the furniture and paintings that were in it, hidden in the Louvre for safekeeping before the Tuileries was destroyed. The best historical claim for rebuilding the Tuileries is that the Louvre would finally regain its intended look and function, that is, as a sealed-off fortress, not an open horseshoe as it is now. An impressive number of important people have come out in favor of the reconstruction, including President Jacques Chirac. So, it may not be a crazy dream after all. How would a 20,000-square meter palace in the center of Paris be used? Boumier is proposing to use it for additional exhibit space for the Louvre, perhaps a conference center, and in the location of the famous Baroque opera theater created by Louis XIV, a 600-seat auditorium. Oh, if only they would reconstruct that theater!


Garth Trinkl said...

You may have covered this in one of your discussions of Mozart's Idomeneo: Munich's Francois Cuvillies-Theater (Altes-Residenz Theater)-- built for Elector Maximilian Joseph III in 1751-55 and destroyed in WWII-- is slated to reopen in 2008.

Charles T. Downey said...

I read about this somewhere but haven't written about it. Thanks, Garth!

jfl said...

when was it closed? it's *the* jewel-box theater par excellance... rivalled perhaps only by the bayreuth opera house (marktgraefliches; not the hill).

Garth Trinkl said...

Jens, you are correct that the small Munich court theater was partially functional in the later post-war period. I believe that it was used for occasional performances, and for weekly curated tours. Did you ever attend a performance there?

I recall, in 2003 I believe, showing up for the announced Wednesday noon tour and being told that the theater was closed for renovations. These renovations may have stemmed from the extensive construction taking place to the east of the part of the Palace Complex containing the theater -- I believe that it was the Residenz stables that were being restored.

I did however visit the historic Ekhof Theatre in Gotha [west of Weimar] which I recall was reputed to be the oldest preserved baroque theatre in the world and the site of the first German language opera performance.


jfl said...

Of course I attended performances in the "Alte Residenztheater" - many times. Lest we are talking about two different venues, it has been in much use throught the last 50 years. (There are a few DVDs out of 50s productions from there; I myself saw a few Mozart operas, concerts, and plays (incl. a phenomenal play-version of "L'Etranger") there. If there was a closure, it must have been just for a while and after 2001, which is when I was there last.

Anonymous said...

a castle was erected in Corsica, near Ajaccio , with lot of parts of Tuileries:

christopherquaile said...

Not crazy at all. The palace is one of the most important icons in French History and should be rebuilt like the Berlin Castle. It was a witness to the Fall of the Bourbons, a seat of the First Empire and the Restoration, ,July and Second Empire Monarchies.
It is a great loss to the Louvre and Makes the Carrousel lead to nothing .