Musee du Louvre
The Louvre or the Louvre Museum (French: Musee du Louvre, pronounced: [myze dy luvʁ]) is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). The Louvre is the world's most visited museum, and received more than 9.7 million visitors in 2012.
The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, 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 ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Academie 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 royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum renamed the Musee Napoleon, but after Napoleon's abdication many works seized by his 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. 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.
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The Mona Lisa
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(Leonardo da Vinci), oil on panel, 1503â€“19, probably completed while the artist was at the court of Francis I.
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The painting collection has more than 7,500 works from the 13th century to 1848 and is managed by 12 curators who oversee the collection's display. Nearly two-thirds are by French artists, and more than 1,200 are Northern European. The Italian paintings compose most of the remnants of Francis I and Louis XIV's collections, others are unreturned artwork from the Napoleon era, and some were bought. The collection began with Francis, who acquired works from Italian masters such as Raphael and Michelangelo, and brought Leonardo da Vinci to his court. After the French Revolution, the Royal Collection formed the nucleus of the Louvre. When the d'Orsay train station was converted into the MusÃ©e d'Orsay in 1986, the collection was split, and pieces completed after the 1848 Revolution were moved to the new museum. French and Northern European works are in the Richelieu wing and Cour CarrÃ©e; Spanish and Italian paintings are on the first floor of the Denon wing.
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The sculpture department comprises work created before 1850 that does not belong in the Etruscan, Greek, and Roman department. The Louvre has been a repository of sculpted material since its time as a palace; however, only ancient architecture was displayed until 1824, except for Michelangelo's Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave. Initially the collection included only 100 pieces, the rest of the royal sculpture collection being at Versailles. It remained small until 1847, when LÃ©on Laborde was given control of the department. Laborde developed the medieval section and purchased the first such statues and sculptures in the collection, King Childebert and stanga door, respectively. The collection was part of the Department of Antiquities but was given autonomy in 1871 under Louis Courajod, a director who organized a wider representation of French works. In 1986, all post-1850 works were relocated to the new MusÃ©e d'Orsay. The Grand Louvre project separated the department into two exhibition spaces; the French collection is displayed in the Richelieu wing, and foreign works in the Denon wing.
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Map of Louvre museum and around, showing bus stops and metro lines serving the area as well as parking.
Venus de Milo
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The MusÃ©e du Louvre contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments.
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The museum lies in the center of Paris on the Right Bank. The neighborhood, known as the 1st arrondissement, was home to the former Tuileries Palace, which closed off the western end of the Louvre entrance courtyard, but was heavily damaged by fire during the Paris Commune of 1871 and later demolished. The adjacent Tuileries Gardens, created in 1564 by Catherine de' Medici, was designed in 1664 by AndrÃ© Le NÃ´tre. The gardens house the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, a contemporary art museum that was used to store Jewish cultural property from 1940 to 1944. Parallel to the Jeu de Paume is the Orangerie, home to the famous Water Lilies paintings by Claude Monet.
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The Islamic art collection, the museum's newest, spans "thirteen centuries and three continents". These exhibits, comprising ceramics, glass, metalware, wood, ivory, carpet, textiles, and miniatures, include more than 5,000 works and 1,000 shards. Originally part of the decorative arts department, the holdings became separate in 2003. Among the works are the Pyxide d'al-Mughira, a 10th century ivory box from Andalusia; the Baptistery of Saint-Louis, an engraved brass basin from the 13th or 14th century Mamluk period; and the 10th century Shroud of Saint-Josse from Iran. The collection contains three pages of the Shahnameh, an epic book of poems by Ferdowsi in Persian, and a Syrian metalwork named the Barberini Vase.
Liberty Leading the People
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French Romantic art, Delacroix, 1830
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The department, comprising over 50,000 pieces, includes artifacts from the Nile civilizations which date from 4,000 BC to the 4th century AD. The collection, among the world's largest, overviews Egyptian life spanning Ancient Egypt, the Middle Kingdom, the New Kingdom, Coptic art, and the Roman, Ptolemaic, and Byzantine periods. 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-FranÃ§ois Champollion translated the Rosetta Stone, Charles X decreed that an Egyptian Antiquities department be created. Champollion advised the purchase of three collections, formed by EdmÃ©-Antoine Durand, Henry Salt and Bernardino Drovet; 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.
The Fortune Teller
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Italian Baroque painting, Caravaggio, c.1600
The Seated Scribe
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from Saqqara, Egypt, limestone and alabaster, circa 2600 and 2350 BC
The MusÃ©e du Louvre contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments with more than 60,600 square metres (652,000 sq ft) dedicated to the permanent collection. The Louvre exhibits sculptures, objets d'art, paintings, drawings, and archaeological finds. It is the world's most visited museum, averaging 15,000 visitors per day, 65 percent of whom are foreign tourists.
Baltasar de Castiglione
Italian Renaissance painting, Raphael, c.1515
, ivory and silver, Muslim Spain, 966
Charles I at the Hunt
English painting, van Dyck, 1635
Christ between two apostles
Frankish, ivory, 5th century
a votive head, 2700â€“2300 BC
The Objets d'art collection spans the time from the Middle Ages to the mid-19th century. The department began as a subset of the sculpture department, based on royal property and the transfer of work from the Basilique Saint-Denis, the burial ground of French monarchs that held the Coronation Sword of the Kings of France. Among the budding collection's most prized works were pietre dure vases and bronzes. The Durand collection's 1825 acquisition added "ceramics, enamels, and stained glass", and 800 pieces were given by Pierre RÃ©voil. The onset of Romanticism rekindled interest in Renaissance and Medieval artwork, and the Sauvageot donation expanded the department with 1,500 middle-age and faÃ¯ence works. In 1862, the Campana collection added gold jewelry and maiolicas, mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries.
French Rococo, Boucher, 1742
Diomedes and Polyxena
Etruscan amphora, ca. 540â€“530 BC
Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave
Italian Renaissance sculpture, Michelangelo, 1513â€“16
Priest burning incense before Ra-Horakhty-Atum, ca. 900 BC
Hellenic Near East, ca. 250â€“200 BC
Fayum mummy portrait
French stained glass panel
13th century, depicting Saint Blaise
Tombe allÃ©gorique de Lord Dorsetca, ca. 1733
Greek, Etruscan, and Roman
The Greek, Etruscan, and Roman department displays pieces from the Mediterranean Basin dating from the Neolithic to the 6th century. The collection spans from the Cycladic period to the decline of the Roman Empire. This department is one of the museum's oldest; it began with appropriated royal art, some of which was acquired under Francis I. Initially, the collection focused on marble sculptures, such as the Venus de Milo. Works such as the Apollo Belvedere arrived during the Napoleonic Wars, but these pieces were returned after Napoleon I's fall in 1815. In the 19th century, the Louvre acquired works including vases from the Durand collection, bronzes such as the Borghese Vase from the BibliothÃ¨que nationale.
Human-headed winged bull
(shedu), Assyria, limestone, 8th century BC.
Ancient Persia, 600â€“300 BC
Infanta Maria Margareta
Spanish painting, VelÃ¡zquez, 1655
Near Eastern antiquities
Near Eastern antiquities, the second newest department, dates from 1881 and presents an overview of early Near Eastern civilization and "first settlements", before the arrival of Islam. The department is divided into three geographic areas: the Levant, Mesopotamia (Syria, Iraq), and Persia (Iran) . The collection's development corresponds to archaeological work such as Paul-Ã‰mile Botta's 1843 expedition to Khorsabad and the discovery of Sargon II's palace. These finds formed the basis of the Assyrian museum, the precursor to today's department.
Portrait of an old man and his grandson
Italian Renaissance painting, Ghirlandaio, 1488
portrait of Marcus Agrippa
Roman, 25 BC
Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss
Romanesque art from Maastricht, 11th century
St Francis receiving the stigmata
Italian Renaissance painting, Giotto, c.1300
St Michael and the Devil
Romanesque architecture from France, 12th century
Islamic art from Iraq, 9th century
Early Netherlandish painting, Rogier van der Weyden, 1435
French Classical painting, Ingres, 1808
Venetian Mannerist painting, Paolo Veronese, c.1550
The La Caze Collection
The La Caze Collection, a bequest to the MusÃ©e du Louvre in 1869 by Louis La Caze, was the largest contribution of a person in the history of the Louvre. La Caze gave 584 paintings of his personal collection to the museum. The bequest included Antoine Watteau's Commedia dell'arte player of Pierrot ("Gilles"). In 2007, this bequest was the topic of the exhibition "1869: Watteau, Chardin... entrent au Louvre. La collection La Caze".
Dutch Baroque, Vermeer, 1664
Flemish painting, Quentin Massys, 1514
The Nike of Samothrace
(winged Victory), marble, circa 190 BC
The Pieta of Villeneuve les Avignon
Gothic art from France, Enguerrand Quarton, 1460
The Rampin Rider
Ancient Greek, Athens,
The Sacrifice of Polyxena at the Tomb of Achilles
Giambattista Pittoni, ca. 1733
The Shepherds of Arcadia
French Classicism, Poussin, c.1640
Three lion-like heads
Charles le Brun, France, pen and wash on squared paper, 1671
Tomb of Philippe Pot
governor of Burgundy under Louis XI, by Antoine Le Moiturier