The Musee du Louvre, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – call it by any name and still there is no place to beat this display of the world’s best art. The Musee du Louvre as the French call it has many distinctions to its credit. The most visited art museum in the world, one of the largest art museums of the world, one of the most famous landmarks of Paris; the distinctions are many.
But no matter what, Louvre is really tempting for all art lovers no matter where they come from.
Location and History
The Louvre ‑ which means a framed opening in French ‑ is a looming façade on the right bank of the River Seine. It houses over 35,000 objects of art from prehistory to the 19th century over an area of 60,600 square feet. The Louvre art museum is located in the Louvre Palace, once a fortress, originally built in the 12th century. In the 18th century the National Assembly decided that the Palace should be converted to accommodate an art museum and thus one of the finest tributes to art and artists was born.
But before we enter this magnificent tribute to man’s love for the beautiful, let’s take a closer look at the imposing façade.
Just as you walk in to the spacious courtyard of this ‘E’ shaped palace without the middle line, you come across the astounding beauty of the glass pyramid. The creation of the Chinese architect Ieoh Ming Pi, the Pyramid as it is known, is an imposing glass structure. Constructed with 800 separate pieces of glass, this modern version of the ancient Egyptian stone megalith is assembled on 95 tons of aluminum structure. It was inaugurated in 1989 and stands as a proud testimony of man’s eternal fascination for beauty.
The modern style of the design was initially not well received by art lovers around the world as it contrasted sharply with the classical style of the museum. But, with the passage of time it has come to be accepted as an ingenious way of blending the modern with the classical.
Now, let’s take a walk inside the museum to ogle at its amazing displays.
The Egyptian Antiquities
The Louvre Museum has one of the most expansive ranges of collections of Egyptian art and artifacts in the world ranging over an extensive period of Egyptian history. The time period of the displays begins with the Nile civilization in the 4000 BC and moves to the 4th century. Housed in 20 different rooms of the museum, the displays span from Ancient Egypt, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, Coptic Art, Roman, Ptolemaic and Byzantine periods. The entry to the Egyptian wing is guarded by the 2000 BC Large Sphinx sculpture.
The other major areas covered include Roman, Etruscan, Greek, Russian and Oriental and Islamic Art.
We have to begin with none other than the Mona Lisa. Though the museum houses one of the largest collections of permanent displays of arts and paintings in the world, the Louvre is synonymous with the Mona Lisa. This fact was reiterated with the publishing of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. A major portion of this best seller is picturised in the Louvre with the Mona Lisa as its focus.
This bewitching beauty by Italian Maestro Leonardo da Vinci is one of the major attractions of the Louvre. But it is just one of the nearly 7,500 works of art or Objects d’Art that are displayed in three spacious rooms of the palace. The other major attractions include the statue of Venus di Milo, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and the Nike of Samothrake as well as paintings by Raphael.
Most of the displays span over a period of BC to 1848. A majority of the paintings and Objects d’Art belong to French masters. Nearly 1,200 are the works of Northern European artists. The Louvre collection of arts was sourced from the private collection of Francis I and Louis XIV.
In this article it is impossible to cover all 35,000 of art objects, yet you have an idea now of what to expect when you visit the Louvre next time you come to Paris.