The Louvre Museum is not only one of the biggest, but also one of the best art museums in the world. Located in Paris, France, it is housed in the Louvre Palace, which was originally built as the Louvre castle in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are still visible in the basement of the museum. Various kings have lived in the Louvre when it was a royal residence. A large number of the paintings at the museum were owned them. Most other pieces were acquired through France’s treaties or are the spoils of Napoléon I.
The Musée du Louvre is a 60,000-square-meter exhibition space, divided into three sections: the Denon, Richelieu, and Sully wings. Each wing has more than 70 rooms displaying paintings and objects of art, plus there are enormous halls filled with sculptures.
The Louvre consists of an amazing collection of over 380,000 objects. However, only 35,000 works are displayed in eight curatorial departments, each shaped and defined by the activities of its curators, collectors and donors.
One can even take a leisurely stroll through the vast green spaces of the Carrousel and Tuileries gardens, which are open-air sculpture museums. Here there are 20 sculptures and over 200 exceptional statues and vases on view, dating from the 17th to the 21st century.
How to get there and What to see at the Louvre Museum
Map of the Louvre Museum, Paris. (Pic Credits: commons.wikimedia.org)
The Louvre Museum lies in the center of Paris on the Right Bank, in the 1st arrondissement. It is easily accessible by bus or metro via the Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre Métro or the Louvre-Rivoli stations.
There are three entrances to the Louvre: the main entrance at the pyramid, an entrance from the Carrousel du Louvre underground shopping mall, and an entrance at the Porte des Lions (near the western end of the Denon wing). La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid) is the main highlight of the central courtyard. It is the famous skylight of the underground shopping mall. There’s also a restaurant, a tearoom, takeaways cafeterias and a bookshop cum gift shop. Contact the Visitor’s Assistance if you need to arrange for a walking stick, wheelchair or baby carrier. They are available free of charge for those who need them.
There is so much to see at the Louvre Museum that trying to cover the entire collection in just one visit or one day or even in a week is simply a difficult task. So it’s best to focus on a checklist of essential artworks you are interested in to ensure that you get the most out of your time spent at the Louvre. Visit the website for important details like their timings to plan your visit. Check out the layout plan for a smoother route, opt for a guided tour or the visitor’s trails to suit your available time, and don’t miss out on any special exhibitions and events that are held there regularly.
Besides Leonardo da Vinci’s famed Monalisa painting, here’s our guide to some of the world famous works to see there.
Salle Philippe Pot Tomb, The Tomb of Philippe Pot
The Tomb of Philippe Pot is a 15th-century funerary monument commissioned by Philippe Pot, to stand over his grave. It consists of eight life-sized solemn weepers or mourners, dressed in black hooded pallbearers habit carrying Philippe’s recumbent sculpture towards its final resting place. Philippe, the royal steward of Burgundy under King Louis XI is dressed in knightly attire and laid on a bed with a lion lying at his feet. It is made of polychromed limestone, paint, gold and lead. This tomb has been in the Louvre collection since 1899, where it is on permanent display.
Victoire de Samothrace, Winged Victory
Winged Victory. (Pic Credits: flickr.com)
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, created around the 2nd century BC is a marble Hellenistic sculpture of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. It is one of the most celebrated and admired sculptures in the world and has been prominently displayed at the Louvre since 1884. It is one of a small number of major Hellenistic statues surviving in its original form rather than other Roman copies.
The 8ft high statue was created not only to honour the goddess, Nike, but also to honour a sea battle. It conveys a sense of action and triumph as well as represents the goddess descending from the skies to alight upon a ship of a triumphant fleet.
Both the arms and head of the sculpture have been lost over time and have never been recovered. Nike’s right arm is believed to have been raised, cupped round her mouth to deliver the shout of Victory.
Les Noces de Cana, The Wedding Feast at Cana
The Wedding Feast at Cana. (Pic Credits: commons.wikimedia.org )
The Wedding Feast at Cana painted in 1563 by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese, is a representational painting that depicts the biblical New Testament story of the Marriage at Cana, at which Jesus converts water to wine. This painting filled the entire end wall of the refectory of the Benedictine monastery on the Venetian island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
When commissioning this immense painting, the monks insisted that the work be monumental. It was hung at a height of 2.5 meters from the ground, to create an illusion of extended space. At a massive 70sq.m, it is the biggest in the paintings collection of the Musée du Louvre.
Get a closer look to see historical personages depicted among the wedding guests -monarchs, sultans, diplomats and statesmen, poets, architects, an archbishop and a cardinal and even a master jester. They are all dressed in the fashions popular in the Renaissance.
According to artistic tradition of the 18th-century, the artist Paolo Veronese included himself to the banquet scene, as a musician playing the violin. Accompanying him other principal painters of the Venetian school playing various instruments are portrayed.
La Liberté Guidant le Peuple, Liberty Leading the People
Liberty Leading the People. (Pic Credits: en.wikipedia.org)
Liberty leading the people is a painting by Eugène Delacroix commemorating the revolution which toppled King Charles X of France in 1830. It depicts a woman personifying the concept and the Goddess of Liberty. She is shown leading the people forward over a barricade and the bodies of the fallen. She holds the tricolour flag of the French Revolution in one hand and is brandishing a bayonetted musket with the other. The fighters are from a mixture of social classes, ranging from the bourgeoisie to a student to a revolutionary urban worker. Notably, what is seen in common among them is the fierceness and determination in their eyes. Aside from the flag held by Liberty, look carefully to spot a second, minute tricolore in the distance flying from the towers of Notre Dame.
The painting is widely believed to have influenced Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables. During the 20th century, a classical music composition Symphony No. 6-After Delacroix by George Antheil was inspired by this famous painting. And in a more modern instance, the painting was used for the band Coldplay’s album cover Viva la Vida.
Lamassu, Human-Headed Winged Bulls
Around 713 BC Sargon II founded his capital, Dur Sharrukin, present-day Khorsabad. Since it consisted of an immense palace, he enclosed it with a great wall of unbaked brick pierced by seven gates.
Human-headed winged bulls were sculpted as protective genies called shedu or lamassu and were believed to offer protection against enemies. They were placed as guardians at certain gates or doorways of the city and the palace. These bulls are one of the characteristic features of the decoration of Assyrian palaces and designs of Syrian inspiration.
As they bore some of the weight of the arch above them, they were also architectural in function. Each sculpture is carved from a single block, stands more than 4 meters high by 4 meters wide and is a meter in depth.
The head is the only human element, and the body is that of a bull. The beast is shown to have five legs so that it looks as if it is standing still when seen from the front, and as if walking when seen from the side. Wings of a bird of prey spring from the shoulders. The tail is very long and curly at the end.
Joyaux de la Couronne de France, The French Crown Jewels
The surviving display of the French Crown Jewels have been worn by many Kings and Queens of France. It comprises the crowns, orb, sceptres, and jewels that were symbols of Royal power between 752 and 1825. Some of the main highlights are the Crowns of Louis XV, Napoleon I, and Empress Eugénie. Among the most famous diamonds in the collection is the Regent Diamond, the Sancy Diamond and the Côte-de-Bretagne red spinel, carved into the form of a dragon.
The Coronation sword used during the coronation of the kings of France is also displayed here. According to legend, this sword named Joyeuse is Charlemagne’s sword.
The coronation swords of Napoleon I and Charles X are also preserved in the Louvre museum.
Le Sacre de l’Empereur Napoléon, The Coronation of Napoleon
Le Sacre de l’Empereur Napoléon. (Pic Credits: commons.wikimedia.org)
This monumental masterpiece occupies a unique place in the history of painting. It is a huge oil painting canvas measuring 10 meters wide by 6 meters tall. The original painting is on display in the Denon wing at the Louvre Museum, while a copy done by the same painter is in The Coronation Room of the Palace of Versailles.
Painted by Jacques Louis David between 1805-1807, it was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon I himself to depict his coronation and the crowning of the Empress Joséphine at Notre-Dame de Paris on December 2, 1804. The painter having been present at the ceremony, later artistically yet accurately portrayed the colourful congregation. He however took certain liberties like downsizing the structure of Notre-Dame Cathedral to give the figures greater impact.
While strictly complying with the Emperor’s instructions to depict the splendour of the occasion, the painter also conveys a political and symbolic message. One of Napolean’s orders was that his mother Maria Letizia Bonaparte and brother Joseph Bonaparte, who were not present for the occasion, were to be included in the painting. This painting ends up being a group portrait of the imperial family along with members of the court and clergy, all dressed in ceremonial costume.
It is a sad irony that this acclaimed painter, though having painted some of France’s most important historical figures, royalty and radical revolutionaries eventually died in exile.
The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds
La Tour Le Tricheur Louvre. (Pic Credits: Wikimedia )
The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds is a classic French painting by George de La Tour, done in 1635. This masterpiece portrays a gambling scene which was a popular topic or genre in late 16th and 17th century art. The painting depicts a company of card players – a gentleman, a woman and a youth, alongwith a maidservant who appears to be nervously involved in the moment.
The scene is both intriguing and intense. The youth on the right being the target of the other three, seems to be completely unaware that they are conspiring against him to trick him out of his gold coins. There are also three major temptations (according to 17th-century moral standards) – gambling, wine, and lust – that the youth is subjected to.
What adds to the painting being impressive are the various gazes of the secret participants, creating a tension although none of them are looking at each other. Their eyes even though turned to their extreme corners form the connecting points of a triangle. Their cooperation is symbolised by the closeness of their hands. La Tour makes the viewer an accessory to the on-going crime by having the cheat hold his Ace of Diamonds card behind him but tipped outwards for the onlooker. However, when looking closely, viewers may have many unanswered questions. For example, there is just a blank background – no indication of a setting, and what exactly is the servant’s role?
This oil on canvas painting was donated to the Louvre Museum in 1972 by its then owner during the first monographic exhibition devoted to the painter.
Planning a trip to Paris to visit the Louvre? Contact Travco Holidays Pvt. Ltd. for Visa and Passport services and all your travel requirements on +91-9860090341.