Just posting here the call for papers for a conference on artistic sociability in the early modern Louvre, which I am organising with Mia Jackson (QMUL) at the Wallace Collection next year.
We’ve both come at this from quite different perspectives – Mia from her research on the ébéniste, André-Charles Boulle, who lived in the Louvre and kept his collection of prints and drawings there; and me from research into the social networks of artists in my work on the Académie Royale (also housed in the Louvre) and on 18C artists’ local parishes (the Louvre being one of the liveliest artistic neighbourhoods). But our goal is the same: exploring what the Louvre was like before it became a museum, getting into all its nooks and crannies, retrieving its inhabitants, and basically bringing the old pre-Revolutionary Louvre back to life!
The response has already been great and we’re very excited to see it take shape.
Now one of the world’s best-known museums, the Louvre was once a vast artistic and cultural centre of a different kind. ‘The Louvre before the Louvre’ will delve into the fascinating but little known period of the Louvre’s history from 1643 to 1793, exploring the role this space played in the histories of art production and artistic sociability in early modern Paris.
Even before Louis XIV moved the Court from the Louvre to Versailles in 1682, the Louvre had already become the centre of artistic, creative, and intellectual energy in Paris. Artists and artisans of all trades – from watch-makers to history painters – were given lodgings and studio space in the same wings and corridors that accommodated cultural organs like the Menus Plaisirs du Roi (responsible for state festivities and spectacles), the royal printing press, and the royal academies (Painting and Sculpture, Architecture, Inscriptions, Science, and the Académie Française). As the palace expanded over the next two centuries, the Louvre complex (the building and surrounding streets) came to be dominated by this growing community of artists, artisans, men of letters, and their aristocratic patrons, inhabiting this space and living out their daily lives together.
‘The Louvre before the Louvre’ will reconstruct and re-evaluate this space of artistic sociability. As dust billowed and paint dripped in artists’ studios, theoretical debates were thrashed out in the academies, and groundbreaking technologies were designed in artisans’ workshops, the Louvre became a fertile ground for collaboration, the results of which are evident in many objects (e.g. by Boulle, Oppenordt, Oeben, Boucher, Oudry, Girardon, Coysevox, to name a few) now in the Wallace Collection where this conference will take place.
Seeking a more intimate understanding of the artistic and intellectual ‘neighbourhood’ of the Louvre and its effect on art and design in the period, we invite papers that explore the Louvre’s rich history, art, material objects, spaces, and social interactions during the 17th and 18th centuries. Suggested topics may include but are not limited to:
For further information: