The Tuileries Palace


The Tuileries Palace

After the death of Henry the Second in 1559, his widow, Catherine de Médici, (1519-89) planned a new palace. Catherine de Medicis began the building of the palace of Tuileries in 1564. The name derives from the tile kilns or tuileries which previously occupied the site. The original architect was Philibert de l'Orme. The building was greatly enlarged in the 1600's. The palace was formed by a series of long, narrow buildings with high roofs that created one major and two minor courtyards. Tuileries stood on the right bank of the River Seine in Paris. The southeast corner of Tuileries joined the Louvre.

The great Louis XIV resided at the Tuileries Palace while Versailles was under construction. When he left, the building was virtually abandoned. It was used only as a theater. During the French Revolution, mobs forced Louis XVI and his family to live there under house arrest. For a time, the National Convention held its sessions in the Tuileries. When Napoleon I came into power he made Tuileries his home.

As Napoleon's chief residence Tuileries Palace was redecorated in the Empire Neoclassical style by some of jewel cabinet designed for the Empress Joséphine's great bedroom in the Tuileries the best known architects, designers, and furniture makers of the day. Pierre François Léonard Fontaine and Charles Percier, the two most fashionable architects of the day, reappointed the palaces of the Louvre and the Tuileries in the period 1802-12. One of the artist Pierre Paul Prud'hon 's (1758-1823) most splendid commissions was to design the apartments of the new empress, Marie-Louise, in Tuileries Palace. For the bridal suite of the Empress Marie-Louise he designed all the furniture and interior decorations in a Greek Revival style. In 1809, Jacob-Desmalter, principal supplier of furniture to the Emperor, began work on a jewel cabinet designed for the Empress Joséphine's great bedroom in the Tuileries (and soon to be used by Marie-Louise). This impressive piece of furniture which was designed by the architect Charles Percier is embellished with several bronze ornaments: the central panel depicts the "Birth of the Queen of the Earth to whom Cupids and Goddesses hasten with their Offerings" by Pierre-Philippe Thomire, after a sculpture by Chaudet. Jacob-Desmalter completed the "great jewelry box" in 1812, with two smaller items of furniture in the same style but using indigenous woods.

Tuileries Palace served as the royal residence after the Restoration. Supporters of the Commune destroyed most of the palace in 1871, but the gardens west of the palace remain. These gardens, covering about 63 acres (25 hectares), still closely follow a design laid out by landscape architect Andre Le Notre in 1664. His spacious formal garden plan drew out the perspective from the reflecting pools one to the other in an unbroken vista that lent the garden a sense of grandeur.


18th century map of the Tuileries Palace in relationship to the Louvre and the Seine River.
18th century map of the Tuileries Palace in relationship to the Louvre and the Seine River.






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© S.W. This site last updated March 2003 by Iris