I love that fall blue sky against the building.
The Musée du Louvre, or officially the Grand Louvre — in English
, the Louvre Museum or Great Louvre, or simply the Louvre — is the largest national museum
, the most visited museum in the world, and a historic monument. It is a central landmark of Paris
, located on the Right Bank
of the Seine
in the 1st arrondissement
(neighbourhood). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet).
The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace
(Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II
. Remnants of the fortress are still visible. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1672, Louis XIV
chose the Palace of Versailles
for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of antique sculpture.
In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years.
During the French Revolution
, the National Assembly
decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation's masterpieces.
The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being confiscated church and royal property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The size of the collection increased under Napoleon
when the museum was renamed the Musée Napoléon. After his defeat at Waterloo
, many works seized by Napoleon's armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII
and Charles X
, and during the Second French Empire
the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic
, except during the two World Wars. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace,
is a third century B.C. marble sculpture
of the Greek goddess Nike
(Victory). Since 1884, it has been prominently displayed at the Louvre
and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world.
Aphrodite of Milos (Greek: Αφροδίτη της Μήλου, Aphroditē tēs Mēlou), better known as the Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek
statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture
. Created at some time between 130 and 100 BCE, it is believed to depict Aphrodite
to the Romans
) the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It is a marble
sculpture, slightly larger than life size at 203 cm (6 ft 8 in) high. Its arms and original plinth
have been lost. From an inscription that was on its plinth, it is thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch
; it was earlier mistakenly attributed to the master sculptor Praxiteles
. It is at present on display at the Louvre Museum
Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda or La Joconde) is a 16th century portrait
painted in oil
on a poplar panel
by Leonardo da Vinci
during the Italian Renaissance
. The work is owned by the Government of France
and is on the wall in the Louvre
with the title Portrait of Lisa Gherardini
, wife of Francesco del Giocondo.
It is perhaps the most famous and iconic painting in the world.
The painting is a half-length portrait and depicts a woman whose expression is often described as enigmatic.
The ambiguity of the sitter's expression, the monumentality of the half-figure composition, and the subtle modeling of forms and atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the painting's continuing fascination.
It is probably the most famous painting that has ever been stolen from the Louvre
and recovered. Few other works of art have been subject to as much scrutiny, study, mythologizing, and parody.
A charcoal and graphite study of the Mona Lisa attributed to Leonardo is in the Hyde Collection
, in Glens Falls, NY
A view from the hallway.
The Egyptian collection. The department, comprising over 50,000 pieces,
includes artifacts from the Nile
civilizations which date from 4,000 BCE to the 4th century CE.
The collection, among the world's largest, overviews Egyptian life spanning Ancient Egypt
, the Middle Kingdom
, the New Kingdom
, Coptic art
, and the Roman
, and Byzantine
The department's origins lie in the royal collection, but it was augmented by Napoleon's 1798 expeditionary trip with Dominique Vivant, the future director of the Louvre.
After Jean-François Champollion
translated the Rosetta Stone
, Charles X
decreed that an Egyptian Antiquities department be created. Champollion advised the purchase of three collections, the Durand, Salt and Drovetti; these additions added 7,000 works. Growth continued via acquisitions by Auguste Mariette, founder of the Egyptian Museum
in Cairo. Mariette, after excavations at Memphis
, sent back crates of archaeological finds including The Seated Scribe
Guarded by the Large Sphinx (c. 2000 BCE), the collection is housed in more than 20 rooms. Holdings include art, papyrus
scrolls, mummies, tools, clothing, jewelry, games, musical instruments, and weapons.
Pieces from the ancient period include the Gebel-el Arak knife from 3400 BCE, The Seated Scribe, and the Head of King Djedefre. Middle Kingdom art, "known for its gold work and statues", moved from realism to idealization; this is exemplified by the schist
statue of Amenemhatankh and the wooden Offering Bearer. The New Kingdom and Coptic Egyptian sections are deep, but the statue of the goddess Nephthys
and the limestone depiction of the goddess Hathor
demonstrate New Kingdom sentiment and wealth.[