Garden of Delights

French treasures coming to Toledo Museum of Art

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  • The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Gardens is a compilation of more than four centuries of compelling work by artists in the pre and post-Impressionism era, a bevy of sculptures, paintings, and photographs never before seen in the United States that portrays the political and social origins of the green space surrounding the Louvre.

    Nine life-size sculptures that stood tall in the outdoor gardens in the French capital for centuries are included in the exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art that opens Thursday and runs through May 11. These include Hercules Battling Achelous as Serpent, a 19th-century depiction of the mythical hero’s battle with the reptile by sculptor Francois Joseph Bosio, and Hamadryad, a 17th-century sculpture by Antoine Coysevox.

    PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see more from the exhibit

    The gardens were more often than not a subject for painters hungry to transport their visions to canvas. Place du Carrousel, Paris, 1900 is one of 28 views that famous French Impressionist Camille Pissaro painted of the Tuileries Gardens from a hotel room overlooking the park. The buildings depicted in the painting are part of the Louvre.

    Pissarro’s composition, one of several in Toledo’s exhibition, is meant to capture the bustling activity of Paris.

    The gardens in the early centuries were a place of meditation and both political and personal fanfare for kings and other French royalty. Etchings capture the aristocratic grandeur of the French and life in the gardens.

    The painting The Louvre in the Era of Napoleon III by 19th-century artist Victor Chavet exemplifies the reign of the French emperor when he came into power in 1799 and his connection to the Tuileries, which he made the official residence of the First Consul.