Paris
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Broaden Horizons
Paris
Image of el award Travellers’ Choice given to the better attractions on Tripadvisor.
Broaden Horizons
Paris
Image of el award Travellers’ Choice given to the better attractions on Tripadvisor.
Image of el award Travellers’ Choice given to the better attractions on Tripadvisor.

18th Century French Paintings Louvre Tour

The French 18th century is historically a century of changes. It was also the case in arts. Discover this attaching and shining period with a licensed guide lecturer thanks to our 2-hour Louvre 18th-century French painting private tour.

Photo of Boucher painting representing a pastoral landscapes with watermill to illustrate a Le Louvre 18th century French Painting private tour, Paris, France.

François Boucher is with Antoine Watteau and Honoré Fragonard a reference for 18th-century Rococo. Le Louvre owns a lot of Boucher paintings as pastoral landscapes with a watermill, a popular theme also displayed in other museums as on the photo (L.A. Getty version).

Louvre 18th century French Paintings private tour essentials  

From 120 € for 1 to 2 people + 25 € for any extra person

  • +/- 2-hour guided tour in English
  • Really private tour = your party only (6 people max.)
  • Postgraduate (MPhil) certified French national guide
  • Flexible schedule
  • Availability: not on Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesday
  • Easy meeting point inside the Museum below the pyramid
  • Skip-the-line ticket to buy online (17 € per adult)

Skip-the-line ticket clarification: they are just standard online tickets.

KNOW MORE / BOOK NOW

What’s in the tour?

Enlightenment

Preromanticism

Drawing Versus Color

Rocaille & Rococo

Neo-classicism

Revolution

The Tour Masterpieces

« The Embarkation for Cythera » & « Pierrot » by Watteau; « Susanna at the Bath » by Jean-Baptiste Santerre; « The Ray » & « The Buffet » by Chardin; « Les attributs des arts » by Anne Vallayer-Coster, « Diana Leaving the Bath » & « Le Déjeuner » by François Bouchet; « Scenes of the harbors of France » series by Joseph Vernet; « Peace bringing back abundance » by Elisabeth Vigé Lebrun; « The Bolt » & « Coresus Sacrificing Himself to Save Callirhoe » by Fragonard; « Broken Pitcher » by Jean-Baptiste Greuze; « Psyche Receiving Cupid’s First Kiss » and « Empress Marie-Louise » by François Gérard; « Portrait of the young girl » by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin; « Portrait of Madeleine » by Marie-Guillemine Benoist and some amazing portraits and history paintings by Jacques Louis David.

A selection of carefully selected other masterpieces to better explain the historical context and artistic evolution of the French Revolution century. 

Your Private Tour Guide in Paris

Certified French national guide
BA, Magna Cum Laude, Heritage Developpement & Preservation from Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers
Postgraduate from Paris Dauphine-PSL University

Why the 18th Century French Painting?

Because the French 18th century is called « le siècle des lumières« , literally the « century of lights » which is called in English the Age of Enlightenment, a brilliant period then.

Nevertheless, this century is also in France a century of great changes. A century which begins with Louis XIV absolutism, which then saw France losing its dominant position for the benefit of England, and finally arrived the French Revolution, the fall of the monarchy, and the beginning of the Napoleonic period.

You will discover in this tour that in terms of changes the world of painting was not outdone. The French 18th century in painting is very astonishing: a firework of innovations under the strict control of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.

The Royal Academy was suppressed in August 1793 following a request of Jacques Louis David as a deputy of the National Convention, it was 7 months after the execution of Louis XVI, two months before the one of Marie-Antoinette. The beginning of a new story.

 

Content of the Tour

  • The painters of the end of the reign of Louis XIV, Jouvenet, de la Fosse, Coypel, Rigaud, Largillière, etc. and the debate between Poussinists and Rubenists
  • The frivolity of the Regency and the reign of Louis  XV: the Rococo style with Francois Boucher its most famous representant
  • The Dutch golden age influence: still lifes, landscape, genre painting
  • Simon Chardin’s still lifes
  • The landscape and marines by Joseph Vernet
  • The moralizing genre painting of Greuze
  • The influence of the new ideas of the Enlightenment on arts
  • Pioneering French women painters making History
  • How the notion of portrait changed along the 18th century
  • The multifaceted talents of Fragonard, pupil of Boucher and Chardin
  • The invention of the fête galante (courtship party) painted by Watteau
  • The Neoclassical reaction
  • The early stirring of Romanticism with the ruin paintings (capricci) of Hubert Robert

Few Glimpses of the Tour

Two Attaching Painters of the 18th Century

Both of them Jean-Baptiste Greuze and Elisabeth Vigé Lebrun were exceptional painters who had in common their problems with the French Academy of painting and sculpture.
Jean-Baptiste Greuze was an exception, in the time of a riot of nudity by François Boucher, he developed antinomic moralizing genre subjects influenced by seventeenth-century Dutch painting. The most famous of these paintings « L’Accordée de Village » is among others in the Louvre. Jean-Baptiste Greuze also painted charming paintings of young women with subtle implicit sense as in the « Broken Pitcher« . Elisabeth Vigé Lebrun as Greuze, was having amazing success, in her case in portrait painting. She was even the favorite painter of Queen Marie-Antoinette herself. The academy reception painting pieces of both painters « Peace bringing back abundance » and « Septime Severe et Caracalla » are shown in the Louvre galleries. We will see how talent was not always sufficient to get the favor of the famous French art institution.

An 18th Century Mona Lisa? The portrait of Madame de Sorquainville

Pierre Rosenberg (Member of the Académie Française, président-directeur of musée du Louvre from 1994 to 2001) wrote in his Dictionnaire amoureux du Louvre (2007) about the portrait of Madame de Sorquainville « Son sourire? Celui d’une Joconde du XVIIIe siècle, d’un XVIIIe qui parlait et pensait français… « . This portrait should be more famous than it is. It is clearly one of the Jewel of the Louvre. Painted by Jean Baptiste Perronneau the challenger of Quentin de la Tour in the Pastel, the Canvas despite being oil realized reflect a lot of the aspects of the 18th century most desired portrait technique. You have to be in situ to understand why it can be compared to Mona Lisa, The quietude, the attitude, the eyes, the smile …

Don’t miss the opportunity to follow our louvre 18th-century French painting tour
to discover the artistic side of the French century of light!

Prepare Your 18th-Century French Painting Guided Tour

Learn already how to recognize Rococo from previous Baroque:

  • Subject: from sacred to frivolity
  • Portrait: from formal representation to character & personality
  • Form: from symmetry to asymmetrical curves

The new style is also recognizable to the wide use of flower ornamentation and warm pastel colors (such as light blue or green).

MOre 18th-Century French Paintings the Orléans Pastels Collection

One of the most popular art forms of the Rococo and Enlightenment-era is missing in the Louvre 18th Century galleries: the pastel. Despite owning the first pastel collection in France, the Louvre rarely shows them because of their fragility which discourages their exhibition in the world’s most visited museum. Nevertheless, if you are an 18th-century fan, France’s second-largest pastel collection is shown as part of the permanent collection of more quiet Orléans Museum of Fine Arts at only a little more than 100 km from Paris.

Other Louvre Paintings Tours You May Like

This 18th-century French painting tour is  part of a cycle of  four:

  1. Middle Age and Renaissance French painting
  2. 17th-century French Painting
  3. 18th-century French Painting
  4. 19th-century French Painting (first half only)

Knowing that for the second half of the 19th century, you will have to follow our Musée d’Orsay Private tour (covering the period from 1850 to 1914). So do not hesitate to contact us if you want to follow the full cycle.

Things to know before Booking

Clarification: Skip-the-Line Tickets Are Just Standard Online Ones

Louvre website says "All visitors, including those entitled to free admission (including Paris Museum Pass bearer), must book a time slot. Buy your ticket online on www.ticketlouvre.fr... During off-peak times, there may also be a limited number of time slots for same-day visits available for booking at the museum. However ... to guarantee your entry ... we strongly advise booking your time slot in advance online." Conclusion no magic: During your time slot, you are entitled to enter the online booking security line, so yes, you skip the line... of those who come without a ticket!

Louvre Museum Tickets Fare

Museum tickets are not included in the tour price.

  • Online Louvre tickets: 17 € per adult
  • Free for all kids under 18 years old
  • Free under 26 years old for the European Union residents

Restrictions

  • Private tour means a tour for you & your party only, not that the museum is privatized.
  • Tour duration & content are purely indicative, they may vary due to contingencies.
  • In case of unexpected closed galleries you accept to follow a substitution content.
  • Prices do not include transportation, food, drinks or any other extra services.

Attention Points

Meeting Point

Easy one Inside or outside the museum (detail during booking)

Access: Metro Line 1 station Palais-Royal

Book your Louvre Private Tour

Just request the date, time, number of people you want for your Louvre tour in our calendar and follow the below 4 steps online easy process.
(1) Receive our OK email (48h free pre-booking)
(2) Buy your Louvre tickets online (compatible schedule)
(3) Once you have your tickets pay your tour online
(4) Receive our
confirmation (email)
Nota bene: Step (1) free pre-booking is lost if no step (3) payment is received after 48h. Buy your ticket on Louvre official web site. Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. Open hours:  9 am - 6 pm. Any exit is final.
Rococo nude by painter François Boucher to illustrate the Louvre private tour in Paris

Nude was also a recurrent theme in Boucher’s Rococo.

Self-portrait of Adelaïde Labille-Guiard to illustrate the Louvre 18th Century French Painting Tour

Self-portrait of Adelaïde Labille-Guiard. She was admitted to the Académie on the same day that her rival Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953.