Musée Charles X in the Louvre

Charles the 10th reigned as King of France from 1824 to 1830. To celebrate his coronation at the Reims Cathedral, he commissioned the great Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) to compose an opera for the occasion. What Rossini came up with was a light-hearted, irreverent (but not unfriendly) comic opera called Il viaggio a Reims (The Journey to Reims), which I have described in one of my Frankfurt posts as The world’s first tourist opera.

Bust of King Charles X in Versailles

Legend has it that the new King fell asleep during the festive premiere of the new opera, but everyone else seems to have found it amusing at the time. Il viaggio a Reims was soon forgotten, but after 150 years of neglect it made an unexpected comeback towards the end of the 20th century and is now performed quite often, which I’m sure would have astounded Rossini as much as anybody else.

Since Charles X enjoyed commissioning things (and didn’t mind spending other people’s money), he later commissioned some of the leading architects and painters of his day to redesign and redecorate a suite of nine rooms in the Louvre, to display parts of the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, medieval and Renaissance collections. The decorations turned out to be quite lavish and impressive, and the rooms were proudly inaugurated by Charles X in 1827.

Since then the exhibits have been rearranged several times, but today the first four rooms of the Musée Charles X are still (or again) used to display a small part of the Louvre’s huge collection of Egyptian antiquities.

Room 28

In room 28, the second room of the Musée Charles X, the exhibits are about Egyptian princes and courtiers in the period from 1295–1069 BC, but the ceiling painting by Horace Vernet (1789-1863) shows something completely different, namely the Pope Julius II ordering Bramante, Michelangelo, and Raphael to build the Vatican and Saint Peter’s in Rome.

All you loyal readers of my post on the Calvet Museum in Avignon might recall that at least four generations of the Vernet family produced famous painters. Horace Vernet was one of them.

Room 29

In Room 29 the exhibits are about the Third Middle Period of ancient Egypt, from about 1069–404 BC. Here the ceiling painting also has to do with Egypt. It is L’Egypte sauvée par Joseph (Egypt saved by Joseph) by Alexandre-Denis Abel de Pujol (1785-1861).

The southeast corner of the Louvre

The Musée Charles X is located here, in the southeast corner of the Louvre, in nine of the inner rooms on the first floor (not the ground floor, but one flight up).

My photos in this post are from 2012. I revised the text in 2018.

See also: Ruebens and Marie de’ Medici in the Louvre.

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