In the Richelieu wing of the Louvre, you will find Escalier du Ministre (the Minister’s Staircase) that leads to the first floor containing Napoleon III Apartments at the Louvre.
Napoleon III Apartments at the Louvre
Don’t be in a rush, walk slowly up the stairs, look around and up.
The ceremonial staircase was built for the Minister of State to impress distinguished visitors attending parties and affairs of state.
Napoleon III (Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte) hired architect Hector-Martin Lefuel to complete the project begun by Louis Tullius Joachim Visconti. The project was to finish the Salle des États in the extended northern wing facing the Place du Palais-Royale.
History and Architecture
Construction began in 1854 and was completed in 1857.
This was at the height of the 2nd Empire design period.
Just when you think it cannot get any better then comes the apartments themselves.
You first enter in through room 91 which is an Antechamber (Antichamber salle 91). It is next to the Introductory Gallery in room 91 (Galerie d’introduction salle 91). The carved wood paneling is completely stunning.
A Magical Experience
The next space was so beautiful that it was as if fairies were dancing.
It was part of the Petite Apartments (Petits Appartements).
It features crimson walls, brilliant gilding, and a lovely fireplace.
The detailing is superb.
The next petite apartment was a true favorite of mine. It appears the fairies were following me further creating a magical experience.
The painted ceiling was a delicate and lovely work of art.
It was a soft palette of springtime.
The walls were covered in fabric. Here is a close up of the floral motif.
The Grand Salon
Next, it was on to the Grand Salon in room 87 (salle 87).
The furniture here is in the second empire style. This design was a mix of 17th and 18th-century styles that featured rich fabrics and colors.
The Grand Salon is the largest room. It could be transformed into a theatre to hold eleven rows of spectators all facing the stage in the theatre saloon.
The room is decorated with imperial insignia and on the upper walls, you can view caryatides which are columns in the shape of female figures.
The chandeliers are impressive. The center crystal alone was larger than my fist.
The ceiling features Charles-Raphaël Maréchal’s painting of “The Reuniting of the Louvre and the Tuileries by Napoleon III”.
The lavish stucco decorations are by Tranchant.
The entire space was pure opulence.
There are four side vault paintings which tell the history of the construction of the Louvre.
You might just have to wear your sunglasses when viewing this space.
Small Dining Room
Another favorite space of mine was the small dining room in room 84 (petite salle à manger).
The painted dome was just a visual delight.
The chandeliers and stucco work in this space were beyond ornate.
I cannot even begin to imagine the hours it took to create this space.
One could spend many days viewing the space and discover something new each and every time.
Large Dining Room
The large dining room (grande salle à manger) was used only for banquets. Although the table is covered by a cloth it features detailed marquetry which is the art of applying decorative veneers to solid wood furniture.
At one end of the dining room is an ebony étagère (sideboard) with a type of gilding technique known as Boulle marquetry (after André-Charles Boulle). Other paintings in the room feature hunting scenes.
Embossed crimson velvet was used for the drapes and chair upholstery.
The painted ceiling was done by Eugène Appert and features a luminous sky traversed by exotic birds. I was enamored by the gilded metal swags which held the chandeliers.
Here is a close up which includes the 3 D cherubs.
The only thing that got me to leave this wondrous space was the chance to see some of the Crown Jewels in a nearby gallery.
Are you ready to move in?