In 1884, it was decided that five years hence there would be an enormous Universal Exhibition in Paris to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. For this occasion, the city council proposed erecting a monument on the historic site of the Tuileries Palace to commemorate the Revolution. The ruins of this building – burned down during the Commune of 1871 – had in fact just been levelled. And so it was not surprising that the civil dignitaries of Paris should envisage a new construction on the now empty space. For the city council it was a particularly strong symbolic commitment, carried forward by the most vehemently Republican councillors.
Alphonse Ruy's proposal was without doubt a response to the councillors' suggestions. Still at the draft stage, these designs proposed the erection a monumental arch surmounted by a huge allegorical figure symbolising the Revolution or the Republic. The publicist Charles Louis Chassain and the architect Auguste Sauvage suggested a vast museum devoted to the French Revolution, but none of these ideas would ever see the light of day. Perhaps they took on too much importance in the eyes of the government who doubtless did not want to pay such a public tribute to the revolutionary period.