2021 – 2025 – Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

Support to the restoration of the “Grands Hommes” statues of the Napoleon Courtyard

The Foundation supports the Louvre Museum in restoring the “Grands Hommes” statues, depicting illustrious figures who shaped French history. This program, sculpted during the Second Empire, decorates the Napoleon courtyard.

After an initial project for the Louvre’s Grande Galerie in the 18th century, architect Louis Visconti, in charge of the “Nouveau Louvre” for emperor Napoleon III, designed a proposal in 1853 for sculptures to adorn the facades of the Napoleon courtyard. The project included 50 statues and 50 busts of illustrious figures, the so-called “Grands Hommes.” His successor, Hector Lefuel, took the project over and discarded the busts to increase focus on the statues. 86 sculptures of 3,15 meters high, carved in stone, extend the courtyard’s columns, accentuating the rhythm of this exceptionally long facade. Artists, writers, scientists, politicians and churchmen: all illustrious figures appear in attires of their time, with attributes telling of their purpose, giving an overview of French history from the 6th to the 19th century.

In 2021, an analysis of the sanitary conditions of all “Grands Hommes” statues led to the planification of maintenance and restoration works depending on each statue’s state of conservation. The Museum decided to mend two to three terraces each year (roughly 20 sculptures) to restore the ensemble in four years.

More than two years after the first interventions, algae and sponges stopped developing, and material loss ceased. Such operations allow the postponement of the restoration of statues while reviving their initial appearance.

The Foundation’s support also includes the provision of explanatory booklets for visitors to learn more about these illustrious figures.