A Look Back at Louveciennes
This is a collection of material about
Louveciennes, which was home to the American School of Paris between 1959
and 1967. It
has been assembled by an ASP alum who enjoyed the final five years there.
Anyone who would like to add recollections, information or pictures
to this page, please contact the editor by clicking here:
Notes about viewing: Click on anything with a blue highlight for more
Photos look best when viewed with a display card setting of 16 bit
(32,000) or 24 bit (16.7 million) colors. Otherwise they will appear
grainy and stippled.
Last changed April1, 2008 24, 2006:
Description of the history of the Pavillon de Musique (in French)
Antique postcards from the Internet added
Vigée Le Brun memoirs of Mme Du Barry
New Postcards Added
New photos added toThe pavillon Du Barry before Coty's renovation
Added Antique Postcards of Louveciennes
Added Madame du Barry bio link.
Added Thomas Jefferson quote.
Added Mme Du Barry Portraits
Added Machine de Marly Annotated Site Plan
The Fragonard Paintings
Louis XV and Mme Du Barry
[This drawing of the Pavillon once belonged to King George III
and is now in the British Museum]
"The chief interest at Louveciennes is the small freestanding
pleasure pavilion commissioned in the late 18th century by Mme du
Barry, Louis XV's last mistress. But even in this "folly" the emerging
mood of reform expressed itself through the almost Platonic purity of
the Neoclassical design prepared by Claude-Nicholas Ledoux. Devoid of
Rococo classicism's curvilinear graces and soft, decorative
transitions, the Louveciennes pavilion is little more than a crisply
articulated, oblong box. A simple balustrade, rather than a pediment,
crowns the central bay; thus, hardly a diagonal or an arabesque
obtrudes within a realm derived directly from those most primary of
forms, the cube and the sphere."
[The top floor, not seen in this illustration, was added during Coty's
reconstruction in the 1930's.]
"when Mme du Barry marked the inaugural with a great banquet, the King
From "The Chateaux of France" by Daniel Wheeler, The Vendome Press 1979
[ ed. note: This Aquarelle of Moreau le Jeune, sometimes described
as a fete given in
honor of the King on December 27, 1771 is actually the inaugural,
"embellished with fireworks" which was held September 2, 1771. A play was
also staged, La Chasse d'Henri IV, drame de Colle, and a concert at
which the musicians apparently complained about having to play up in
the little loges, now mirrored over.
It is also interesting to note that Mme Du Barry, pushing the frontiers of
furniture as well as architecture and art, has Louis XV seated in a Louis
XVI style chair.
The original is in the Cabinet des Dessins du Louvre, no 31 360]
Thomas Jefferson was impressed by what he saw at Louveciennes. In a letter to Maria Cosway, written in 1786, he refers to the pavillon of Lucienne and the machine of Marly:
"Oh! my dear friend, how you have revived me by
recalling to my mind the transactions of that day! How well I
remember them all, & that when I came home at night & looked back to
the morning, it seemed to have been a month agone. Go on then, like
a kind comforter & paint to me the day we went to St. Germains. How
beautiful was every object! the Port de Reuilly, the hills along the
Seine, the rainbows of the machine of Marly, the terrace of St.
Germains, the chateaux, the gardens, the statues of Marly, the
pavillon of Lucienne. Recollect too Madrid, Bagatelle, the King's
garden, the Dessert. How grand the idea excited by the remains of
such a column! The spiral staircase too was beautiful. Every moment
was filled with something agreeable. The wheels of time moved on
with a rapidity of which those of our carriage gave but a faint idea.
And yet in the evening when one took a retrospect of the day, what a
mass of happiness had we travelled over! Retrace all those scenes to
me, my good companion, & I will forgive the unkindness with which you
were chiding me. The day we went to St. Germains was a little too
warm, I think; was it not?"
Portraits of Mme Du Barry by Vigée Le Brun
Mme Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun, a court painter, friend and confidante of Mme. Du Barry, painted these two portraits in 1783 and 1789
Vigée Le Brun memoirs of Mme Du Barry from From: Memoirs of Madame Vigée Lebrun (1903) by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842); Translated by Lionel Strachey
A selection of photos from the 1920's, before the building was rebuilt.
In February of 1996,
the New York Times printed a
story about The Chateau in Louveciennes which
had belonged to Louis XV's mistress,
Madame Dubarry, and how it had
been stripped and left in ruins.
Many ASP people heard of the
story, and feared the worst for
old school building. As it turns
out, it was about the building
next door, the "Chateau Du Barry",
not the Pavillon Dubarry. Here are
the details, photos of the stolen goods from the diningroom...
And maybe a happy
Here are the original architectural drawings for the pavillon Du
as prepared by Ledoux in 1770.
The most famous of Mme. Du Barry's artistic commissions for her
pavillon were four paintings by Fragonard. They didn't last long at
Louveciennes, but are easily seen today...
(These pictures take a little while to load - be patient, s.v.p.)
The famous pump that King Louis
XIV built on the Seine to supply
water to his fountains at
Versailles was considered a
wonder of the world at the time,
both for its complexity and the
incredible noise it made. It was
said to have kept Mme. Du Barry
and her guests awake at night.
A collection of postcards from quartier of rue de la Machine.
This page is still under
Please visit again for more photos, historical info and
reminiscences of Louveciennes.
Posted by David Pendery, ASP Class of 1968
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