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Alexandre Lenoir

M. Alexandre Lenoir
Alexandre Lenoir by Jacques-Louis David (1815-1817), Paris musée du Louvre.
Born (1761-12-27)December 27, 1761
Died June 11, 1839(1839-06-11) (aged 77)
Nationality French
Occupation archaeologist, museum director

Marie Alexandre Lenoir (27 December 1761, Paris – 11 June 1839) was a French archaeologist. Self-taught and devoted to saving France's historic monuments, sculptures and tombs from the ravages of the French Revolution, notably those of Saint-Denis and Sainte-Geneviève.


The ravages of the Revolution caused the birth of the Musée des monuments français. Thanks to support from Jean Sylvain Bailly, Alexandre Lenoir successfully demanded that all art objects from state properties be gathered together in this museum. These objects were confiscated at different religious houses and stored in a single place to avoid their dispersal and destruction.

Mandated by the National Constituent Assembly in 1791, he brought together the various objects he sought to conserve in the Couvent des Petits Augustins, a building which later was converted to become the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

On 1 August 1793, the National Convention decreed that the tombs of "former kings" should be destroyed. Alexandre Lenoir witnessed the destruction of the royal tombs, with the bones thrown into a ditch. He struggled against revolutionary vandalism and managed to save statues and loot which he stored at the couvent des Petits-Augustins.

In 1795, he opened the Musée des monuments français to the public — he was its administrator for 30 years.

In October 1796, Lenoir was among a number of artists who signed a petition supporting plans to seize works of art from Rome, in response to an early artists' petition orchestrated by Quatremère de Quincy that remonstrated against these plans.

In 1816, under the Bourbon Restoration, he had to return the majority of his collections to their former public and private owners.

His wife Adélaïde née Binart (1771–1832) exhibited at the Salons under the name Lenoir.




  • Louis Courajod, Alexandre Lenoir, son journal et le Musée des monuments français, H. Champion, Paris, 3 vol., 1878-1887

External links

  • Biography on
  • The Musée des monuments français on the Réunion des musées français site


  • (French) Jean Tulard, Jean-François Fayard and Alfred Fierro, Histoire et dictionnaire de la Révolution française. 1789-1799, Robert Laffont, Bouquins collection, Paris, 1987 (ISBN 270282076X)
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