DURING THE FIRE OF 2019, the treasure of Notre-Dame de Paris was evacuated and placed for safety, in large part, in the Louvre. After cleaning and restoring certain pieces, the museum has been offering an exhibition since mid-October which recounts its developments, compared to those of the cathedral and the upheavals of History. Already dispersed and reconstituted several times under the Ancien Régime, following the taste of the time and the fortune of the kings, the treasure was confiscated and melted down in August 1792, during the Revolution.
So much so that the commissioners had to become detectives to find its origins. They thus present extremely old documents, such as, for example, the moving testament of a Merovingian aristocrat, Ermentrude, in the 6th century, who offered Notre-Dame “a large silver dish”. Several mentions of a “shrine of the Virgin” in other manuscripts and fragments of the True Cross, reported at the beginning of the 12th century by Canon Anseau, bear witness to the first donations of relics.
From 1802, and especially thanks to the coronation of Napoleon I, at Notre-Dame de Paris in 1804, many objects of worship were purchased or manufactured. “The archbishop, Jean-Baptiste de Belloy, even obtained custody of the relic of the crown of thorns from the Sainte-Chapelle,” explains Anne DionTenenbaum, one of the commissioners. On the occasion of the exhibition, several liturgical vestments were studied and linked to this event, immortalized by the very precise painting of David, evoked by a reproduction. Thus, we recognize the silk embroidered cope which is presented opposite the silhouette of the Italian priest in the center of the composition.
The talent of Viollet-le-Duc
But it is above all the last room which dazzles, since there are presented, under beautiful lighting, the magnificent neo-Gothic pieces, designed by Viollet-le-Duc, the restoring architect of Notre-Dame de Paris, and executed by the best goldsmiths of the end of the 19th century. New reliquary shrine for the crown of thorns, reliquary bust of Saint Louis in silver… “It is part of the continuity of medieval art,” adds the curator, “but showing great creativity. » These works of art will, in a few months, return to the display cases that the architect had designed for them, in the treasure room… which he had rebuilt! They will then be next to others, more recent: “Let us not forget,” recalls Jannic Durand, co-curator, “that these objects of worship continue to be used in certain offices and that donations from the faithful or commissions from the clergy to contemporary artists are continue. »Throughout the centuries, the treasure of Notre-Dame remains very much alive.