For an exhibition on the Tuileries garden, two nude sculptures from the Louvre are flanked by a dozen holly trees in planter boxes on the plaza outside the High to evoke the orange trees that decorate the Parisian garden each summer.
The High even brought in the same chairs — though not in the exact shade of green, as the company that makes them only sells that color to the French gardens — so visitors can sit and enjoy a favorite Parisian pastime, people-watching.
“The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden” opens Sunday and centers on the garden that was originally part of the long-gone Tuileries Palace and now sits along the Seine River, stretching from the courtyard of the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde at the base of the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.
The show explores the works of art in the garden, the garden itself as a work of art and the garden as inspiration to artists.
“I think a lot of people kind of pass through it, but I think it’s worth sitting down in one of the chairs and taking in sculpture and the wonderful gardens,” said David Brenneman, director of collections and exhibitions for the High.
The show is spread over three floors, beginning with the large sculptures borrowed from the Louvre in a lobby space separated from the plaza by a wall of windows. The set-up allows the recreated garden outside to feel connected to the sculptures indoors, said Guillaume Fonkenell, curator of sculpture and museum historian for the Louvre.
At the Louvre the sculptures sit indoors where visitors don’t get to see them bathed in natural light and seemingly amid the trees.
The second floor explores the history of the Tuileries Palace and gardens through artifacts associated with Catherine de Medici, who commissioned the palace, and King Louis XIV, who had the garden expanded. In a separate gallery are a model of the palace and photos of it in ruins following a fire in 1871.
A short video projected on three walls offers the illusion that the viewer is walking through the garden past tourists snapping photos, joggers, a family feeding pigeons and people lounging in chairs.
The third floor houses a wooden model of the gardens and Louvre as well as works by artists who drew inspiration from the gardens. The scenes include a painting of a nighttime party from 1867 with people in formalwear, an Edouard Manet painting of children playing in the garden, and etchings of the first manned flight in a hydrogen-filled balloon, which launched from the Tuileries in December 1783.
Particularly notable are four paintings by Camille Pissarro, who rented an apartment across the street from the garden on the Rue de Rivoli and made nearly 30 paintings of the garden. They are arranged as if Pissarro is looking from left to right out the window of his apartment and also reflect changing seasons.
The final room of the exhibition is filled with photographs: a nighttime view of an urn and tree shot by Brassai, pictures of statues by Robert Doisneau and general garden shots by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
The exhibition runs through Jan. 19 in Atlanta and then will travel to the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio (Feb. 13-May 11) and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon (June 14- Sept. 28).