The High Museum of Art recently brought the gardens of Paris and their rich history to midtown Atlanta. The traveling exhibition, entitled “The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden,” showcased a mixture of sculptures, paintings and photographs. The wide range of works was created between the 17th and 21st centuries and chronicles the evolution of the Gardens and their legacy throughout time.
The show ran at the High Museum from Nov. 3 through Jan. 19. It will continue on to Toledo through the spring, and to Portland, Ore. in the summer.
The exhibition opens with a selection of statues taken from the Tuileries Garden. As the exhibition explains, Catherine de Medici commissioned the Gardens during the mid-16th century for the Tuileries Palace.
Though they began as a private space for French monarchs, they were eventually transformed into a public park during the French Revolution. They are now located near the Louvre Museum in Paris. The Gardens feature a wide range of sculptures, classical in both style and subject matter. “Guillaume Coustou the Elder” (c. 1659-1744) is one of the many examples of classical, mythological sculptures contained in the gardens. These classical sculptures epitomize the origin of the gardens as a leisurely space for the monarchy to spend its time.
The exhibit also included many paintings of the gardens themselves. The featured paintings chronicle the changes seen in the Tuileries garden as the monarchy was destroyed. While earlier pieces – including the tapestry “After Charles Le Brun, Manufactured by Gobelins Royal Manufactory” (c. 1668-1680) – depict monarchs enjoying their private gardens, others show the gardens after the revolution.
These remarkable images illustrate the gardens’ use as a recreational space for many families, most notably those of the aristocracy. These families are depicted enjoying the impressive marble sculptures, gazing at a floating air balloon and gathering in a circle around a performance space.
The exhibit also incorporates many paintings created during the Impressionist era. Renowned Impressionist artists such as Camille Pissarro and Edouard Manet have works in the exhibit. Both artists were able to capture the beauty of the gardens with their loose brush strokes. Pissarro’s piece “The Tuileries Garden on a Winter Afternoon” entrances viewers with its pastel colors, thick applications of paint and dreamy lavender clouds.
The most stunning part of the exhibit is the photographs. In 1870, after the defeat of Napoleon, the French army set fire to the Tuileries Palace, hoping to destroy any symbol of Napoleon’s reign. For a decade, the ruins remained, and the faÃ§ade was the only surviving element of the Palace.
In a series of photographs taken after the sack of Napoleon, artists captured the beautiful yet ghostly walls that served as a reminder of France’s rich political history. These photographs serve as a striking end to an exhibition that fully captures the rich history of one of the oldest gardens in Paris.
– By Jasmine Tang