Louvre puts the spotlight on the treasury of Notre Dame


Louvre puts the spotlight on the treasury of Notre Dame

From October 19, 2023, to February 19, 2024, the Louvre presents the exhibition “The treasury of Notre Dame Cathedral from its origins to Viollet-Le-Duc

Source: Louvre · Image: Cathédrale Notre-Dame Trésor. Photo by Alexander Baranov from Montpellier, France. License Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paris_(75004)_Cath%C3%A9drale_Notre-Dame_Tr%C3%A9sor_03.jpg

The temporary exhibition rooms in the Richelieu wing host a show devoted to the treasury of Notre Dame Cathedral, from its beginnings to its high point during the Second Empire, (1852–1870) thanks to Viollet-Le-Duc’s efforts. The cathedral treasury had to be entirely reassembled following the French Revolution. Today it is famous for the remarkable relics it contains, notably the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the True Cross originally held in the treasury of the Sainte-Chapelle but transferred to new reliquaries at Notre Dame under Napoleon I (1804–1814). The cathedral treasury is also famous for splendid masterworks of French precious metalworking collected in the nineteenth century, in particular ones designed by Viollet-Le-Duc during the Second Empire, providing extraordinary testimony to the history of Notre Dame as well as the history of France.

For the first time, however, the exhibition also seeks to go back in time, exploring the history of the treasury prior to the French Revolution. Inventories, historic accounts, paintings, illuminated manuscripts, prints and other illustrated documents, along with several surviving pieces, will trace part of the long story of Notre Dame’s treasury starting from the Merovingian era. It offers a glimpse of a lavishness that rivalled even the dazzling objects made for Notre Dame in the nineteenth century.

Featuring roughly one hundred items, the exhibition thereby tells the story of the treasury of the cathedral of Paris and its resurrection in the nineteenth century, all set in the context of its age-old history. Curators: Jannic Durand, honorary director of the Department of Decorative Arts, Musée du Louvre; Anne Dion-Tenenbaum, Michèle Bimbenet-Privat and Florian Meunier, curators in the Department of Decorative Arts, Musée du Louvre.