Cross Section of the Nave of Reims Cathedral, decorated for the Coronation of King Louis XVIII

Charles Percier French
Pierre François Léonard Fontaine French

Not on view

This sheet shows a cross section of the interior of Reims Cathedral with the decorations for the coronation of King Louis XVIII. The design represents one of six drawings that form the only documentation of the plans for this coronation, which never took place. The event was likely delayed, and eventually dismissed due to the precarious state of the French monarchy and the declining health of the King. In addition, the idea of a Royal coronation, bestowed by the French Catholic Church had become a point of contention after the fall of the first monarchy and the Emperor Napoleon’s decision to crown himself. For these reasons, King Louis XVIII’s successor, Charles X, opted not to have a coronation in Reims when he ascended the throne in 1824. Some of the concerns for how the coronation would be perceived can be noted in the decoration scheme that was devised by Percier and Fontaine. The architect duo had also been the official designers for the coronation of Emperor Napoleon. To mark the distinction, in their designs for Reims Cathedral, they veered away from the vocabulary of the Empire Style, and instead worked in a style known as Palladian Gothic. In addition, they incorporated references to the historic legitimacy of the Bourbon dynasty throughout their decoration scheme.

Cross Section of the Nave of Reims Cathedral, decorated for the Coronation of King Louis XVIII, Charles Percier (French, Paris 1764–1838 Paris), Pen and black ink, brush and gray, blue, yellow, violet, and rose wash

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