View of the front of The Louvre next to the church of Saint Germain des Auxerrios.
15 x 11
A copper plate etching in original hand colour; engraved by Balthazar Leizolt as a part of a "Collection of Prospects" published in Augsburg circa 1750.
Vues d'Optique (or Optical Views) were all the rage in mid C18th Europe and an essential holiday souvenir for those embarking upon The Grand Tour or merely travelling across the continent for commercial reasons. In addition, they provided a crucial way of disseminating images of towns, cities and buildings to a curious audience who were unlikely ever to visit.
This scarce image shows the Palais de Louvre in central Paris during one of its many reconstruction phases. The building originated from the late C12th and went through many types of use before it would eventually become one of the most famous art museums in the world attracting over 10 million visitors a year. For many years from 1546 onwards it was the main residence of the French royal family but when Louis XIV moved his household to Versailles in 1682 it ceased to function as a home and began to adopt the role of a gallery space. Initially it displayed items from the royal collection but ironically it wasn't until 1793, a year after the execution of King Louis XVI when the terrors of the French Revolution were at their height, that it was officially opened as a museum.