Whenever a visitor travels to Paris, France, the Eiffel tower is always on the bucket list, or rather observe the mystery in the smile of the Mona Lisa’s portrait.
Mr. Mohamed Dekkak has a one of a kind experience during his travel around Paris, which he found worth sharing to other travellers who also want to discover other things aside from the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. It is the majestic Napoleon III Apartments at the Richelieu wing of the Louvre museum.
The Louvre is currently one of the world’s most recognized museums and is celebrated by visitors who love both history and arts. The Louvre museum has three huge annexes: Sully, Richelieu and Denon.
The Sully wing is the oldest part of the Louvre. The second floor is dedicated mostly to French paintings, illustrations and designs. The first and ground floors of the Sully wing present the works from the vast collection of artefacts. On the other hand, the Denon Wing is usually the most visited among the three wings because it is where the Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci is exhibited.
On the level of the Richelieu wing, you will find the luxuriously decorated Napoleon III Apartments. The Napoleon III Apartments are an exceptional record of the Second French Empire decorative art. They give you an idea of what the old interior design of Louvre looked like when it was still in use as a royal palace. It is said that the apartments were refurbished during the Second Empire for the Ministry of State. After that, Napoleon III only used it for official purposes.
The apartments were designed and constructed between 1852 and 1857 by the architects Louis Visconti and later Hector-Martin Lefuel to link the Louvre and Tuileries palaces. The Apartments consists of a salon theatre, the Grand Salon, and a Dining room.
The Room 85 or also known as the salon theatre of the Napoleon III Apartments features a painted ceiling Les Saisons des fleurs by Auguste Genron and the décor of the room is sculpted by Theophile Murgey.
The furniture in the salon theatre is mostly inspired by the Second Empire style. A mix of 17th and 18th-century styles using high-quality fabrics and rich colours. There are many Louis XV Chaperone chairs or ‘Indiscreet chairs’ are found in the salon. It is said that these chairs are specially built for casual conversations.
A wall portrait of Napoleon III painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter is perfectly placed in the room. Franz Xaver Winterhalter also painted a portrait of Empress Eugenie. The dress she wore in the painting perfectly suits her form and sets the standard as an empress. If you look closely at the painting, the empress is wearing a crown ornamented with pearls, which proves of her fascination to pearls.
The Grand Salon shows extravagant decorations through the glimmering chandeliers, gold-plated edgings, silk draperies, velvet fixtures, and baroquely decorated ceilings.
The columns take the shape of female figures. The beauty of these ‘caryatides’ is even enhanced by an artistically painted ceiling by Charles-Raphael Marechal illustrating the construction of the Richelieu wing.
The grand table is the star in the Dining room. Golden cabinets in black-stained wood with gilt bronze decorations are strategically placed around the room. It is said that the spacious dining room is only used during feasts.
The elegance of the Napoleon III Apartments is definitely a must see at the Louvre. It is an effective way of revisiting the past and to learn about the lifestyle of early France.