BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo
(b. 1598, Napoli, d. 1680, Roma)

Third (final) project for the Louvre

Engraving, 340 x 240 mm
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

Bernini arrived in Paris in June 1665 and prepared a third scheme, much wider in its scope, since it involved remodeling or encasing the whole of the Square Court and not merely completing the east wing. This third scheme is preserved in the engravings of Jean Marot in the Grand Marot (1670). It shows a colossal block-like palace, with a flat roof and a balustrade ornamented with statues, the walls being articulated with a colossal Order, half-columns and pilasters. In this design Bernini made no concessions to French taste, but presented a vast mass of plastically conceived masonry.

Inside the court nothing would have remained visible of the buildings of Lescot, Lemercier, or Le Vau which would have been hidden behind double logge, with staircases in the corners. Most important of all, the plan was open to very serious criticism on the score of convenience in its internal arrangement. Colbert's final comment was that although it provided admirable space for ballrooms, staircases, and grand approaches, it left the King no better housed than before.

Not only was Bernini's project never realized, but his visit exercised no serious influence in France.