True Louvre

Radical social and political upheaval in 18th century France came at a cost, and you know who suffered the most? Decorative arts enthusiasts. Aristocratic and religious privilege was replaced by Enlightenment principles, which were disastrous for collectors of diamond-and-gem snuffboxes. The Musée du Louvre has preserved the splendor of the court in its collections, and deems the U.S. worthy of an exclusive viewing. "Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette" tells the story of French patronage from the 17th century until the revolution, when the fall of the monarchy meant that the demand for mosaic tabletops made of semi-precious stones fell dramatically. The comparatively unadorned guillotine captured the nation, but the splendor of the court is now on full display in the exhibition, which includes personal collections as well as gifts received from visiting dignitaries and foreign courts, many of which have never before left France. Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette shared an affinity for hardstone vases, and Louis XV made sure his mistresses Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry were taken care of when it came to Sèvres porcelain and silver. The bust of Marie-Antoinette, commissioned by Russian Ambassador Alexander “diamond prince” Kourakine, suggests the Queen was amused during her sitting. Perhaps she spotted the gold coffee grinder’s abject wood handle out of the corner of her eye.
Tuesdays-Sundays, 9:30 a.m. Starts: Dec. 26. Continues through March 31, 2012

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