Pei's Palace of Art

In a historic renovation, the architect brings light and cohesion to the Louvre

Napoleon III had a taste for ostentation. On the ceiling of his gilded reception room in the Louvre is a fresco of the goateed sovereign himself, sitting on his throne and surrounded by puffy clouds and horn-blowing cherubs. . Flying toward him are two figures brandishing architectural plans and a model of the royal palace. The painting commemorates the Emperor's 1852 decision to expand the edifice by adding a new north wing, named after Cardinal Richelieu, to house his private apartments and expanding bureaucracy.

President Francois Mitterrand's likeness will probably never grace a ceiling. But what he shares with the Emperor...

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