French royal treasures from Louvre featured in SF

The Legion of Honor collaborates with the Musée du Louvre in Paris to feature the first exhibition in a new agreement.
November 15, 2012 8:51:40 PM PST
A collection of rare French royal treasures goes on display in the Legion of Honor on Saturday. It is the first exhibition in a new agreement between the Lourve in Paris and San Francisco's fine arts museums.

The works of art are delicate, bold, stunning, and dazzling. They are from the time of King Louis XIV through the French Revolution -- a time when the kings made Paris became the cultural capital of the world.

"They were always buying contemporary art and to try to have the best in every field," said Musee de Louvre director Henri Loyrette.

And they commission work, too. This exhibition opens as the Fine Arts Museums president Dede Wilsey and the Louvre 's Loyrette signed a major accord for an exclusive series of exhibitions and exchanges between the two cities for the next five years. It is what Mayor Ed Lee calls part of his goal to broaden the city's international standing.

"The relationship that is forged with our sister cities is reflected on the strong exchanges that are going on," said Lee.

So now we take this exploration into this world of French artistry to appreciate it.

"To look carefully at these objects to see how they are made, and what kind of history they tell. It's also a kind of history of France from Louis XIV to the French Revolution. It's also a history of taste," said Loyrette.

This exhibit really is about the passion and the artistic commitment of French royalty. And this collection is of historical significance since it is the first time we've seen these works outside of France.

It is, in a sense, a traveling show because the kings would move some of them from palace to palace. But to get them here required years of negotiations.

"There is a lot of back and forth. Their curators coming here, ours going there," said deputy director of the Fine Arts Museums Richard Benefield.

The results are now showing only in San Francisco. The collection will run to next march, with more to come from Paris.


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