This article was written by :
- Frédérique Duyrat, conservateur général, directeur du Département des Monnaies, médailles et antiques (BnF) et membre statutaire de l’équipe de recherche Mondes sémitiques (UMR CNRS 8167)
- Jérôme Jambu, conservateur, chargé des collections de monnaies étrangères, Département des Monnaies, médailles et antiques (BnF) et Maître de conférences en Histoire moderne (Université de Lille IRHiS UMR CNRS 8529)
The ongoing restoration of the Richelieu site of the Bibliothèque nationale de France has led to the removal of a number of historical decors. One of them adorns the room today called the “Salon Louis XV” which is in fact the former Coin Cabinet, or Cabinet du Roi, of the 18th century, now called département des Monnaies, médailles et antiques (Figure 1). This decor was moved in the 1860s : during the redevelopment of the site of the National Library rue de Richelieu, the arcade of the former hotel de Nevers where the original Cabinet was located, above the rue Colbert, had to be demolished. The decor was kept in different parts of the Library until the beginning of the 20th century. It was then scrupulously reassembled by the architect Jean-Louis Pascal in the new wing of the Library created to house the Cabinet des Médailles and its museum in 1917. Large-format copies of portraits of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud and Louis XV by Louis-Michel Van Loo made in the beginning of the 19th century, occupy each end of the room to replace paintings destroyed during the Revolution. The paneling in which the paintings were inserted was also copied from what was left of the dismantled originals. This allowed the reinstallation of paintings and furniture dated from the 1740s, in a setting close to the original.