You will return home through arches of triumph
Napoleon to his soldiers in Austerlitz in 1805.
Located in the heart of the National Estate of the Musée du Louvre and the Tuileries, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was built by Napoleon I on his victorious return from Austerlitz in homage to the Grande Armée. Its construction was entrusted to the greatest architects, sculptors and craftsmen of the Empire. In record time, they completed a sumptuous arch with sculpted decoration and rich, precious materials.
Over the course of two turbulent centuries, the monument has survived the fall of the Empire, the Tuileries palace fire, and two world wars. But now its future is at stake, unless it undergoes conservation work (consolidation of the structure, waterproofing of the masonry, conservation of the sculptures, etc.). Given the urgency and scale of the project, the Musée du Louvre is asking for your support to save this exceptional monument, emblematic of the Louvre and Paris.
Become a patron and join this project!
The museum is therefore appealing to public generosity to raise 1 million euros before January 31, 2019. If this goal is achieved, the project will begin in fall 2019 and finish in spring 2022. No matter how much you donate, your support will be crucial.
For more information on the project, click here.
the project in detail
Click on a point to know more
One of the causes of degradation is the nesting of birds on the tops of the bronze capitals, made easy by their shape. During the conservation work they will be cleaned, restored, and treated. In order to restore them to their original condition, the eagles on the capitals will be regilded. Only a few parts of the original coating remain visible today.
The bases of the columns have long since lost their finish and the bronze is starting to leave green traces on the stones below. The porous parts of the bronze will be filled and patinated, and all the capitals and column bases will be treated with microcrystalline wax.
Some of the stonework under the archways has been damaged by water infiltration through the masonry. Visible whiteness around the joints indicate salt residue. All the marble sculptures will be treated on site using scaffolding.
The soldiers of Napoleon’s army
The Carrara marble “soldiers of the Grande Armée” (Napoleon's army) are all original. Several of them are severely damaged and much of the detail has been lost. The conservation work planned for 2020 will consist of:
- The restoration of the four west soldiers, as with the four east soldiers using plaster casts kept at Château de Malmaison as a guide, along with drawings from the Department of Prints and Drawings of the Musée du Louvre.
- The restoration of the four east soldiers.
A near-continuous crack surrounds the hips of the allegories. The outer layer of gilded lead is splitting due to the corrosion of the internal iron armature, and is also being reduced to powder due to water infiltration through the cracks. Also, the rivets connecting the lead to the armature have disintegrated. This situation is rapidly evolving and, as such, urgent intervention is needed.
The allegories will be taken down for the conservation treatment, which will focus on the internal metal structures.
The 2020 conservation work will also treat the inscriptions on the cartouches describing the bas-reliefs. The marble itself will be treated against moss and lichen.
The third horse from the left suffers from two major types of degradation:
- A hole has allowed water to flow into the statue; as such its core material has become waterlogged.
- Due to the water, the three hoofs which are attached to the base, and which contain the iron anchoring, now show traces of rust which will eventually cause the bronze to crack.
If this is not swiftly dealt with, the supports could break, and the horse could collapse. For its conservation, the water will be drained, any corroded elements will be restored, and the iron will be replaced with stainless steel. An electric anti-pigeon system will be installed on the quadriga, the cornice, the capitals, and the soldiers to put an end to pigeon-related damage.
Degradation is clearly visible under the large cornice. The moss and salt damage is essentially due to water infiltration under the faulty lead roofing on top of the cornice, in addition to bad drainage in the lion heads, which are blocked by gravel and organic material.
The monument will be protected from water by repairing the lead linings and extending the pipes in the lion heads. The water will thus be discharged further away from the decoration immediately below.
The marble bas-reliefs are attached with metal fixtures which, due to rust, have caused the panels to crack. These rusting fixtures will be taken down and treated against corrosion.
The marble plaques
The marble plaques that form the frieze of the entablature are attached with metal fixtures which, again due to rust, have caused the plaques to break, crack, and to separate from each other. The parts of the Red Languedoc marble which have been damaged will be cleaned and reinforced, and the fixtures will be replaced with stainless steel.
Securisation of the Work
Nets had to be placed under some of the sculpted decoration on the west façade to prevent materials falling on the public.
The sculpted decoration
Certain parts of the sculpture have become a real puzzle over time.
The friezes on the west façade in particular have deteriorated significantly. The marble has been damaged by water run-off and erosion due to sand and gravel from the Tuileries Garden driven by wind.
The smoothing work
The smoothing work of prior conservation treatment on the pink Languedoc marble columns has deteriorated and will be redone. The cracks will be repaired and sealed.
Charles X's scepter
The end of Charles X's scepter, taken down in the 1930s and kept in the Louvre's reserves, has not yet been replaced. The 2020 conservation work will see the scepter completed again with a cast bronze copy.