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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Apollo Gallery and the Crown Jewels of France

The Apollo Gallery (Galerie d'Apollon) is truly one of my favorite galleries within the Louvre.  It was originally created for Henri IV (the fourth) but much of it was destroyed by fire on February 6, 1661. The reconstruction was done under architect Louis Le Vau between 1661 and 1663 by order of young King Louis XIV (the fourteenth). It is easy to see how it served as a model for the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles Palace.

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There are a total of 41 paintings in the gallery. King Louis XIV (the Sun King) was forever immortalized in one of the many panels.

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Before we continue this post I want to mention two things. The first is, as with all photographs, I strive to showcase items on their own without tourists in the shot. This required a bit of time and patience to capture such photos. I just don’t want anyone to be gravely disappointed if they someday arrive at the Louvre and encounter a crowd. Believe me, in some areas, they were there.

Secondly, I was a bit shocked that many of the galleries featured displays that were rather….ahem, dirty. Case in point, in Napoleon’s Apartments I found that most of the fixtures had a thick layer of dust. The upholstery and carpets needed a good vacuuming. My first thought was “Wow! I am surprised!” After all this is the worlds most famous museum. My second thought was “I wonder if I could intern here by offering my cleaning services just so I could get my hands on everything”.  :)

That said, most of the glass cases that held the gems were in need of a good polishing and the lighting was dismal. The result was that my photos did not turn out as good as I hoped. Because of this I will share official photos of the jewels in addition to my own.

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The paintings in the Apollo gallery were restored to their full glory in 2004.

When writer Henry James was just thirteen he wrote of the Gallery "the wondrous Galerie d'Apollon...drawn out for me as a long but assured initiation and seeming to form, with its supreme coved ceiling and inordinately shining parquet, a prodigious tube or tunnel through which I inhaled little by little, that is again and again, a general sense of glory. The glory meant ever so many things at once, not only beauty and art and supreme design, but history and fame and power, the world in fine raised to the richest and noblest expression."

Yes Henry, you eloquently captured my exact thoughts.

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In addition to the many paintings the ceiling and side walls feature amazing stucco sculptures. Many were done by François Girardon.

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The Zodiac signs were created in sculpture in the southwest quarter of the gallery. Can you tell that I am a Leo?

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My senses were completed overloaded by the beautiful details.

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In the center of the room are glass and gilt vitrines created in the 19th century.

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They house a rare collection of Royal glassware and precious stone vases.

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But my favorite glass vitrine held a partial collection of the Crown Jewels to include Louis XV’s 1722 coronation crown.

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Here is a clear image of Louis XV’s crown.


A closer look at Empress Eugenie’s crown.

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She was the wife and consort of Napoleon III. The crown contains 2,480 diamonds and 56 emeralds. Eight eagles alternate with long laurel leaves issuing from palmettes. A globe topped with a cross surmounts the arches. The eagle and palmette motifs are recurrent imperial symbols.

The Crown of Napoleon created in 1804.

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While I myself don’t particularly care for this crown I love the painting that featured his coronation.

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The artist of this neo classical masterpiece is Jacques-Louis David. It is immense in size measuring approximately 19 feet tall by 32 feet wide.

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You can view it in the Denon wing, room 75 on the first floor. The detailing is superb.

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The Apollo gallery is located in the Denon wing on the first floor in room 66.

For more information on the Apollo Gallery you can visit the Louvre’s website HERE.

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The other crown jewels are located in the Richelieu wing, first floor, room 74, near Napoleon III’s apartments.

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In the center of the case is Empress Eugenie's amazing diamond bow brooch. It was originally intended as a buckle for a diamond belt.

On the bottom of the case were a set of ruby bracelets which belonged to Marie~Therese, the Duchess of Angoulème. She was the only living child of Marie~Antoinette & Louis XVI.

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The two bracelets were originally part of a parure (a matched set of jewelry). Each bracelet contains 24 rubies, 356 round brilliant cut diamonds. 

I adored the tiara that also belonged to Marie~Therese, Duchesse d'Angouleme.

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It is a beautiful emerald and diamond tiara that features a symmetrical design of scrolling foliage.

Empress Eugenie’s pearl and diamond tiara.

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Empress Eugenie had this pearl tiara made for her wedding to Napoleon III.

It can also be seen in her official portrait, the original of which was painted by Franz-Xaver Winterhalter. But several copies were made. You can also see near her right hand the coronation crown.

Which tiara do you love?


Linking to:

Between Naps On The Porch, Classy Clutter, A Stroll Thru Life, Not Just A HousewifeA Bowl Full of Lemons, We Are That Family,Someday Crafts,The 36th Avenue, Ivy and Elephants, Savvy Southern Style, Katherine’s Corner, Posed Perfection,Craftberry Bush, Stonegable, Jennifer Rizzo, Country Cottage, The Shabby Nest, Imparting Grace,My Romantic Home,The Charm of Home,Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia,The Dedicated House


Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

Another great post! This private tour is almost as good as being there!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm enjoying your photos. I feel like I'm seeing things most tourists don't get to see. Very beautiful my friend! Thanks for sharing!

Auntie Em said...

Amazing art and jewels to see but I would be right there tut-tutting along with you over the dust. I suppose cutbacks mean things are not kept up as well as they should be but then maybe vacuuming and polishing everything too often might wear them out as well. But the glass cases shouldn't be a problem if they have a bottle of vinegar and some newspapers! lol
Thanks for sharing not only your lovely photos but your personal insights as well. Makes it all seem more real! :)

Liz Hockamier said...

Well sheesh! You'ld have to have both... The emeralds for evening and the pearls for day time! :)

Thanks for all the detail! I love seeing it all.

Decor To Adore said...

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Decor To Adore said...

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Princess of Eboli said...

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful!!!!! <3 <3 <3

Ivy and Elephants said...

I love the gorgeous pearl and diamond tiara! Amazing, thanks so much for sharing them with us.

The Boston Lady said...

How wonderful to see these jewels in person, as well as in the paintings. History coming to life. I also enjoyed your post about traveling alone. I've never done it, but I imagine it is freeing. You can do as you like! Wonderful posts, Laura. Ann

The Boston Lady said...

I meant to ask.... Do they put a value on the jewels? Beyond "priceless"? Ann

The Charm of Home said...

Oh I like Eugenie's coronation crown. And then...all of those gems! Beautiful! Thank you for linking with Home Sweet Home!

Lorrie said...

I like them all, but particularly the diamond and emerald tiara because it belonged to Marie-Antoinette's daughter who survived to adulthood. What sorrow she must have carried all her life.