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Tuileries Palace before 1871 - View from the Louvre courtyard
Great staircase
The Tuileries Palace (French: Palais des Tuileries) was a royal palace in Parismarker. It stood on the right bank of the River Seinemarker until 1871, when it was destroyed in the upheaval during the suppression of the Paris Commune. It closed off the western end of the Louvremarker courtyard, which has remained open since the destruction of the palace.


Military review in front of the Tuileries in 1810
After the death of Henry II of France in 1559, his widow Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589) planned a new palace. She began building the palace of Tuileries in 1564, using architect Philibert de l'Orme. The name derives from the tile kilns or tuileries which previously occupied the site. The palace was formed by a range of long, narrow buildings with high roofs that enclosed one major and two minor courtyards. The building was greatly enlarged in the 1600s, so that the southeast corner of the Tuileries joined the Louvremarker.

Louis XIV

Louis XIV resided at the Tuileries Palace while Versaillesmarker was under construction. His garden designer André Le Notre laid out parterres for the Tuileries in 1664, but when the king left, the building was virtually abandoned. It was used only as a theater, and its gardens became a fashionable resort of Parisians.

Louis XV

The boy-king Louis XV was moved from Versailles to the Tuileries Palace on January 1, 1716, four months after ascending to the throne. He was moved back to Versailles on June 15, 1722, three months before his coronation. Both moves were made at the behest of the Regent, the duc d'Orléans. The king also resided at the Tuileries for short periods during the 1740s.

Louis XVI

During the French Revolution, Louis XVI and his family were forced to return from Versailles to the Tuileries where they were kept under house arrest, starting in October 1789. The royal family tried to escape on the evening of June 20, 1791, but were captured at Varennes and were returned to the Tuileries. The Tuileries were later stormed on August 10, 1792 by the Paris mob, which overwhelmed and massacred the Swiss Guard as the royal family fled through the gardens and took refuge with the Legislative Assembly.

Tuileries Palace before 1871 - View from the Tuileries Gardens
On November 9, 1789, the National Constituent Assembly, formerly the Estates-General of 1789, moved its deliberations from the tennis court at Versailles to the Tuileries, following the removal of the court to Paris. The Tuileries' covered riding ring, the Salle du Manègemarker (which ran along the north end of the Tuileries Gardens to the west of the palace), home to the royal equestrian academy, provided the largest indoor space in the city. It accommodated the Constituent Assembly, its successor, the National Convention, and in 1795, the Council of 500 of the Directoire until the body moved to the Palais-Bourbonmarker in 1798. In 1799, the Jacobin Club du Manège had its headquarters there.

When Napoleon came into power he made the Tuileries the official residence of the first consul and then the imperial palace. In 1808 Napoleon began constructing the northern gallery which also connected to the Louvre, enclosing a vast place.


As Napoleon's chief residence Tuileries Palace was redecorated in the Neoclassical Empire style by Percier and Fontaine and some of the best known architects, designers, and furniture makers of the day. One of the artists, Pierre Paul Prud'hon's (1758-1823) most splendid commissions was to design the apartments of the new Empress, Marie-Louise. For the bridal suite of the Empress Marie-Louise he designed all the furniture and interior decorations in a Greek Revival style.

In 1809, Jacob-Desmalter, principal supplier of furniture to the Emperor, began work on a jewel cabinet designed for the Empress Joséphine's great bedroom in the Tuileries (and soon to be used by Marie-Louise). This impressive piece of furniture designed by the architect Charles Percier was embellished with several gilt-bronze ornaments: the central panel depicts the "Birth of the Queen of the Earth to whom Cupids and Goddesses hasten with their Offerings" by the bronzier Pierre-Philippe Thomire, after a bas-relief by Chaudet. Jacob-Desmalter completed the "great jewelry box" in 1812, with two smaller items of furniture in the same style but using indigenous woods.

The Restoration

The Tuileries Palace served as the royal residence after the Bourbon Restoration. In the "July Revolution" of 1830, the palace was attacked for a third time by Parisians and occupied. Louis Philippe took up permanent residence there until 1848 when it was again invaded, on February 24, 1848. The Swiss Guards stationed at the palace, aware of what happened in 1792 to their predecessors, abandoned the palace.

State rooms of the Tuileries Palace before 1871 - Hall of Peace
The Palace of the Tuileries served again as the official residence of the executive branch of government after the coup d'état by Napoléon III in 1852. When President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte became Emperor Napoléon III he moved from his presidential office at the Élysée Palacemarker to the Tuileries Palace, ushering in the Second Empire.

The Second Empire

During the Second Empire, the Tuileries Palace was extensively refurbished and redecorated after the looting and damage that occurred during the Revolution of 1848. Some imposing state rooms were designed and richly decorated, serving as the center stage of the ceremonies and pageantry of the Second Empire, such as on the occasion of Queen Victoria's state visit to the Tuileries in 1855. The Second Empire also completed the northern wing of the Louvre along the rue de Rivolimarker, linking the Tuileries Palace with the rest of the Louvre, and thus finally achieving the huge complex of the Louvre-Tuileries, whose master plan had been envisioned three centuries earlier.

The prominent roof-lines of the palace and especially its squared central dome were influential prototypes in the Second Empire style adopted for hotels and commercial buildings as well as residences in the United Kingdom and North America.

End of the Tuileries

The finalization of the long planned Louvre-Tuileries complex was not to happen. On May 23, 1871, during the suppression of the Paris Commune, twelve men under the orders of a Communard, Dardelle, set the Tuileries on fire at 7 p.m., using petroleum, liquid tar, and turpentine. The fire lasted for 48 hours and entirely consumed the palace. It was only on May 25 that the Paris fire brigades and the 26th battalion of the Africa Chasseurs managed to put out the fire. Other portions of the Louvremarker were also set on fire by Communards and entirely destroyed. The museum itself was only miraculously saved.

Burnt stone shell of the Tuileries Palace after the 1871 fire and before the destruction of 1883 - View from the Louvre courtyard
The ruins of the Tuileries stood on the site for eleven years. Although the roofs and the inside of the palace had been utterly destroyed by the fire, the stone shell of the palace remained intact, and restoration was possible. Other monuments of Paris also set on fire by Communards, such as the Paris City Hallmarker, were rebuilt in the 1870s. After much hesitation, the Third Republic eventually decided not to restore the ruins of the Tuileries, which had become a symbol of the former royal and imperial regimes. On the other hand, the portions of the Louvre that had also been destroyed by fire were rebuilt in their original style by the French government.


The "château de la punta"
In 1882 the French National Assembly voted for the demolition of the ruins, which were sold to a private entrepreneur for the sum of 33,300 gold francs (approximately US$130,000 in 2005), despite the protests of Baron Haussmann and other members of French artistic and architectural circles, who opposed what they thought was a crime against French arts and history. The demolition was started in February 1883 and completed on September 30, 1883. Bits of stone and marble from the palace were sold by the private entrepreneur as souvenirs and even to build a castle in Corsica, near Ajaccio, the "château de la punta".[61097]

Tuileries Garden and the Axe Historique

When the large empty space between the northern and southern wings of the Louvre now familiar to modern visitors was revealed in 1883, for the first time the Louvre courtyard opened into an unbroken Axe historique. The Tuileries Garden (French Jardin des Tuileries) is surrounded by the Louvre (to the east), the Seine (to the south), the Place de la Concordemarker (to the west) and the Rue de Rivolimarker (to the north). Further to the north lies the Place Vendômemarker.

The straight line which runs through the Place de la Concordemarker and the Arc de Triomphemarker to La Défensemarker was originally centred on the façade of the Tuileries, a similar line leading across the entrance court of the Louvre. As the two façades were placed at slightly differing angles, this has resulted in a slight 'kink' on the site of the palace a feature ultimately dictated by the curved course of the River Seinemarker.

Tuileries Garden

The Tuileries Garden covers about 63 acres (25 hectares) and still closely follows a design laid out by landscape architect Andre Le Notre in 1664. His spacious formal garden plan drew out the perspective from the reflecting pools one to the other in an unbroken vista along a central axis from the west façade, which has been extended as the Axe historique.

The Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paumemarker is a museum of contemporary art located in the north-west corner of the gardens.

Map of the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens

Image:Valois Tapestry 2.jpg|Ball held at the Tuileries Garden in honour of Polish envoys, 1573Image:VBRITTO-tuileries-fountain-2008-2.jpg|Sunset at the Tuileries Garden fountain and poolImage:VBRITTO-tuilleries-vers-arc-2008-2.jpg|Tuileries Gardens - Obelisquemarker and Arc de Triomphe in background

Rebuilding the Tuileries?

Since 2003, a committee in France has been proposing to rebuild the Tuileries Palace. This effort is similar to the proposal of reconstruction of the Berliner Stadtschlossmarker (Berlin City Palace). There are several reasons for rebuilding the Palace of the Tuileries. Ever since the destruction of 1883, the famous perspective of the Champs-Élyséesmarker, which ended on the majestic facade of the Tuileries Palace, now ends in the Arc du Carrouselmarker, formerly centered on the Tuileries but now occupying a large empty space. The Louvre, with its pyramid on the one hand and the axis of the Place de la Concordemarker-Champs-Élysées-Arc de Triomphemarker on the other, are not aligned on the same axis.

The Arc du Carrousel fortuitously stands near the intersection of the two axes. The Palace of the Tuileries, which was located at the junction of these two diverging axes, helped to disguise this bending of the axes. Architects argue that the rebuilding of the Tuileries would allow the re-establishment of the harmony of these two different axes. The Tuileries Gardens would also recover their purpose, which was to be a palace garden.

Also, it is emphasized that the Louvre Museum needs to expand its groundplan to properly display all its collections, and if the Tuileries Palace is rebuilt the Louvre Museum could expand into the rebuilt palace. It is also proposed to rebuild the state apartments of the Second Empire as they stood in 1871. All the plans of the palace and many photographs are still stored in French archives. Furthermore, all the furniture and paintings from the palace survived the 1871 fire because they had been removed from the palace in 1870 at the start of the Franco-Prussian War and stored in secure locations.

Today, the furniture and paintings are still deposited in storehouses and not on public display due to the lack of space in the Louvre Museum. It is argued that recreating the state apartments of the Tuileries Palace would allow the display of these treasures of the Second Empire style which are currently hidden.


A rebuilding of the Palace of the Tuileries is estimated to cost 300 million euros (US$ 400 million). It would be financed by public subscription and the work would be undertaken by a private foundation, with the French government spending no money on the project. Since 2003, the idea has gained momentum in French media.

See also


  1. Oliver Bernier, Louis The Beloved: The Life of Louis XV (Garden City: Doubleday, 1984), pp. 12. 39

External links

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