Mr President-Director of the Louvre Museum, Mr Henri Loyrette, Mr President of the Society of Friends, Mr Marc Fumaroli, Mr Director General of Heritage, Mr Philippe BÉLAVAL, Mrs Director in charge of Museums, Dear Marie-ChristineLABOURDETTE,Dear Friends,

The unknown masterpiece: the title of Honoré Balzac’s short story echoes
to the quality of this exceptional tapestry, this dais of Charles VII
“fallen from heaven” in the image of the angels she depicts. Behind this new
there is a proven set of tools, and the demonstration, if
the importance of the curatorial profession, these
skills that may at times seem highly specialized, but that
are essential not only to the knowledge of art and its
and its dissemination to audiences, but even to the integrity of our
national collections. I want to pay tribute to Elisabeth Antoine,
Chief Curator at the Department of Art, for his
commitment and passion in this reappropriation.
This piece was unknown to art historians before September 2008. It
today, under the title of National Treasury, in the collections
public. The generosity of the Société des Amis du Louvre complemented by
the support of the institution and the State, through the intervention of the Fund
Heritage, today restore its rightful place, by proposing it
to the public. From tomorrow, it will be visible to visitors
Louvre alongside the self-portrait of Nicolas Fouquet, painter by
of the reign of Charles VII, of which Jan Van Eyck was in some way
the Court of Burgundy.
I also want to take this opportunity to highlight the commitment
example of the Société des Amis du Louvre in the enrichment of
collections of this great institution, the museum par excellence of the Nation.
Alexandre Lenoir says nothing else even though the idea of a museum
is born: The museum must be established with enough magnificence to
to speak with all eyes and to call from the four corners of the world the curious,
who would make it their duty to open their treasures and pour them into a
friendly people of the arts”. This international ambition and ability to
vision for the Louvre of the 21st century, is intimately linked to the
the presence of exceptional pieces such as the one presented
By its colours and the quality of its motifs, by the elegance of the
faces and drapes, but also by its state of conservation, this
tapestry surprises the visitor but also the specialist. Of the drape of
the Apocalypse of Angers to the Lady with the Unicorn, rare are indeed the
red-bottomed tapestries. If we follow Michel Pastoureau, speak of 'color'
red” is almost a pleonasm. Besides, some words, such as coloratus
in Latin or Colorado in Spanish, both mean "red" and "colorful".
In the symbolic system of Antiquity, which revolved around three
red was the colour par excellence, the only one worthy of the name.
The supremacy of red was subsequently imposed on the whole West,
accentuated by the religious symbolism of red vermeil, translation of
the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire that descend on the apostles on the day
Pentecost. Beyond that, the period of the Hundred Years' War was indeed that of
opposition, I dare say, between the red and the black, between the
Valois and the black of the Duke of Burgundy, translation of the mourning worn by
Philippe Le Bon after his father’s murder.
It is to emphasize how deeply the canopy of Charles VII’s throne is
related to its royal origin but also to the symbolic charge it bears for
visitors to the one his critics sometimes call the king of
Bourges». The golden sun and the small suns that accompany it
part of the emblems of the kings of France in the fifteenth century; it
characterizes the reign of Charles VII and poses him as king «Victorious» after the
the British, the Armagnacs and the
Burgundians. When the one who was the «nice dolphin» was sitting on his
throne, the two flying angels who appeared were not lacking
to affirm the divine essence and the sacred dimension of royal power.
In addition, the tapestry emphasizes the coronation ceremony
of Reims and its divine legitimation. The iconography presented here is
rather unusual: usually, angels crown the Virgin or
bring the holy Ampoule, divine anointing for those who hold power
and then becomes thaumaturge, as the great
historian Marc Bloch. This dais therefore commemorates the ceremony of the coronation,
rapidly shipped: it aims to transfigure the royal image and to
make the «little king of Bourges», with so fragile a power, the chosen one of God reigning
on the Kingdom, a kind of prefiguration of the symbolic iconography that
will be that of the Sovereigns in modern times.
Unique by its iconography, exceptional by its historical interest,
this tapestry enters today at the Louvre as the National Treasure. That
highlights the importance of this art in the royal collections, as has
illustrated this year the beautiful exhibition of the Manufacture des Gobelins
dedicated to the Brussels and Maline tapestries and
the Louvre, the Ecouen Castle or the
museum Jean Lurçat d'Angers. The tapestry is part of the universe
princes in the late Middle Ages: it is a portable interior, a
mobile memory and as such a rich heritage of suggestions and
This tapestry is also an essential milestone in the history of the
representation of royal power. She enters this former residence
of the kings of France, in the heart of this Paris that Charles VII reconvened in
1437, under its red flag in the golden sun to which this coin makes
directly echo. It also translates echoes and correspondence
between the «places of memory» of the epic of Charles VII: Bourges well
safe, where the master upholsterer Jacob de Littemont also decorated, if we follow
some exegetes, the cathedral and the chapel of the hotel Jacques Coeur;
but also Chinon, Loches.
As many places of history and heritage that shape a landscape and a
network to feed the project of Maison de l'Histoire de France
by the President of the Republic in order to put history back at the heart of
our company project. A multiple, innovative network, open to the world
and history museums of our European partners. A rich network
the diversity of its institutions and collections – archaeology,
history of art, society. A network affirming the need for a
story that questions, that is not enclosed in a closed narrative on itself
in the filiation of the message delivered by the Annals school.
The quality of the research and restoration work around this work
is fully in line with this ambition for history in our country. The
demand of the public does not deny: the influx of historians of
Sunday» - to use the beautiful expression of Philippe Ariès - in
archives, but also the interest generated by the programs
devoted to historical subjects, or the quality of an event
open to the scientific community as the Rendez-vous de l'histoire
of Blois testify to this.
The globalisation of information and the construction of an ambition
for Europe cannot ignore the demands of the
historical roots. Their valorization through art objects contributes to
the ambition of a culture accessible to everyone as much as to the
building a full and complete citizenship. Because there is no future
shared without an assumed past; it is not a transmission of values
without understanding the sedimentation of time and long
duration. The visual and symbolic strength of this national treasure can
contribute: it is able to teach to please and move - docere,
place, movere - if we want to follow the canons of an aesthetic
President of the Society of
Friends of the Louvre, dear Marc Fumaroli, the slightest detours and paths
Thank you.