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Art Diary

Olympism: Modern Invention, Ancient Legacy

19 April 2024

This summer, the Olympic Games are returning to Paris, exactly 100 years since France last hosted the global sporting event. As part of the accompanying city-wide cultural programme, the Louvre is hosting an exhibition exploring the origins of the Games and their rich history (24 April–16 September). In particular, the exhibition looks at the social and political context that led to the conception of the first modern Games in 1896 by the French educator and historian Pierre de Coubertin. Objects on display include the first Olympic Cup, known as the Bréal Cup after its designer Michel Bréal, as well as several archaeological discoveries from Greece that reveal the ancient sporting history that inspired the modern Olympics. Also on display are designs for trophies and publicity materials created by the Swiss draughtsman Émile Gilliéron, the official artist of the inaugural games. Find out more from the Louvre’s website.

Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary

Bréal Cup (1896), Michel Bréal. Photo: © Fondacion Stavros Niarchos

Cover of commemorative album for the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens, Émile Gilliéron. Photo: © Bibliothèque Musée Olympique, Lausanne

Trophy designs for the 1906 Mesolympics, Émile Gilliéron. Photo: © École française d’Athènes