Paris of Louis XIV Royal Squares PDF Print E-mail

Paris Art Studies – The Paris of Louis XIV



Place des Victoires – 1685-86 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart


Built  at the initiative of the Duc de Feuillade as a monumental décor for  of a central monument in honor of Louis XIV by Martin Desjardins destroyed at the French Revolution and replaced by the current equestrian statue of Louis XIV by Bosio in 1828.


Palais Royal:


1624 – The Hôtel de Rambouillet is purchased by the future Cardinal Richelieu, named prime minister of Louis XIII, so as to be close to his master’s residence in the Louvre.

1628-35 – Massive extensions of the original building by the architect Jacques Lemercier with the addition of a courtyard and wings at the back – New complex turns into a “palace” called the “Palais Cardinal.” On the west side of the back courtyard is the famous “galerie des homes illustres” with 25 portraits of great figures of recent French history by Vouet and Champaigne.

1633 – The demolition of the old Charles V wall behind his palace enables the cardinal to appropriate more land for a large garden.

1636 – Richelieu leaves the palace in his will to the King.

1639-42 – Erection of the largest theater in Paris on the east side of the complex, which will later become an opera.

1642 – Erection of a library on the west side of the palace (perpendicular to rue de Richelieu and never finished).

1643 – After the death of the Cardinal and Louis XIII the widowed Queen Anne of Austria and Regent of the kingdom moves into the Palais Royal with her two young sons Louis XIV and Philippe d’Anjou (later d’Orléans). The palace is renamed “Palais Royal”.

1651 – After the civil war of the Fronde the royal family move back to the Louvre which is deemed more secure. The palace is given to Henriette de France, daughter of Henri IV and exiled widow of the English King Charles I.

1661 – Henriette gives up palace to her daughter Henriette d’Angleterre who has just married Louis XIV’s younger brother Philippe d’Orléans. The royal academy of art moves into Richelieu’s intended library wing until 1692.

1671 – Having lost his first wife in 1670, Philippe remarries Charlotte Elisabeth of Bavaria Princess Palatine.

1692 – Louis XIV overturns Richelieu’s will and gives the palace as full private property to his brother Philippe d’Orléans. This gift is to sugar the pill for obliging his brother’s son, Philippe duc de Chartres, to marry the Kings’ illegitimate daughter Mlle de Blois.

1700 - A new gallery is built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart on the site of Richelieu’s library, beginning of a long campaign of embellishments continued through the 18th century.

1708-23 – Oppenord redecorates the Orléans apartments in the new Rococo style. The new gallery is painted by Coypel with a sequence of paintings illustrating the story of Aeneas.

1715 – Philippe Duc d’Orléans, nephew of Louis XIV, becomes Regent of the kingdom at the death of the great King, governing in lieu of the 5-year old Louis XV. He stays in the Palais Royal and moves the little king from Versailles to the Tuileries palace in Paris.

1723 – At the Regent’s death the palace is inherited by his son also named Philippe. Louis XV and the court return to Versailles.

1741 – The third duke d’Orléans gives up his palace to his son Louis-Philippe and retires to an abbey.

1750-52 – Renovations of the eastern wings and service courtyards by Contant d’Ivry. The west wing receives a new and revolutionary classical décor pre-figuring the future “style Louis XVI”.

1763 – The old theater, now an opera burns down. This enables Contant d’Ivry to regularize the fronts on rue St Honoré and the front courtyard and build a new monumental staircase. A new opera is built by Moreau on the east side, inaugurated in 1780 but consumed again completely by fire in 1781.




1780 – The heir of the duke, Louis Philippe Joseph Duc de Chartres, obtains permission from King Louis XVI to undertake on the periphery of the garden a lucrative real estate development combining residential and commercial properties.

1781-84 – Erection of new houses with an open arcade sheltering shops and coffee houses on the west, north and east sides of the garden built by Victor Louis in an ornate neoclassical style. The neighbors who lose their views on to the garden are furious.

1786-90 – Building of a new theater by Victor Louis on the west side of the palace (on site of current Comédie française) to replace the burned opera.

1793 – During the Revolution, Philippe d’Orléans is guillotined despite his revolutionary zeal (renaming himself Philippe “Egalité” and voting the death sentence of his cousin Louis XVI). The palace becomes national property.

1799 – Under the Consulate the palace is used to house, the Tribunat (until 1807), a legislative institution, for whose meetings an amphitheatre is built in 1801. Many other projects follow but none is realized under Napoleon in the last years of the Empire.

1814 - Under the Restoration of the Bourbons the palace is given back by Louis XVIII to the Orléans family. The new duke, Louis-Philippe moves in with his sister Adelaïde.

1817-31 – Louis-Philippe buys back portions of the palace sold during the Revolution and undertakes a general renovation of the buildings carried out by the architect Fontaine. Having become King after the revolution of 1830 he moves across the street to the Tuileries palace.

1848 – After the revolution which overthrows Louis-Philippe the palace is again nationalized.

1850-52 – Under the Second Republic, The Palais Royal houses the annual art exhibition called the Salon moved here from the Louvre.

1852 – After the proclamation of the Second Empire, the new ruler, Napoleon III, uses the palace to house members of the Bonaparte family, notably his uncle Jerome, only surviving brother of Napoleon I.

1870-today – After the fall of the Second Empire the palace is re-nationalized under the Third Republic and will house thereafter various state institutions including the Council of State which is still there today. The latest, is the Ministry of Culture, created in 1974, which occupies the Valois (east wing) of the palace. Jack Lang minister of Culture under the socialist president François Mitterrand will commission in 1985 the truncated black and white columns that currently occupy the back courtyard, from the French minimalist artist Daniel Buren.


Saint Roch – 1653-1740, Jacques Lemercier, Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte

296, rue Saint Honoré 75001


Most fashionable church of western Paris under Louis XIV and in the 18th century. The playwright Corneille, the painter Mignard, the gardener Le Nôtre and the preacher Bossuet are buried there.

Napoleon fired with canon at royalist rebels from the church steps in 1795.


Place Vendôme (Louis le Grand) – 1698-1720 Jules Hardouin-Mansart


Built on the site of the hotel de Vendôme, this monumental classical square was a décor for the equestrian statue of Louis XIV in the center destroyed during the French Revolution. The original project (1685) promoted by Louis XIV’s new finance minister Louvois, intended to house royal institutions like a royal library, a mint, an ambassadors’ residence and a house for the royal academies. This was in the end scrapped because of lack of money and the square was transformed to luxury housing built by private developers. In the 18th century it became the favorite abode for financiers and the “nouveaux riches”. The current bronze column (1806-10 by Gondoin and Lepère) was originally erected by Napoleon to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz. Brought down during the Paris Commune in 1871 it was rebuilt in 1873.


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