The Department of Egyptian Antiquities was created on May 15, 1826, by royal decree of Charles X. He made Jean-François Champollion, who had just acquired the collection of the British consul Salt (4,000 pieces), the curator of what then called the Egyptian Museum. It was installed in the south wing of the Cour Carrée and arranged with the help of the architect Fontaine. The paintings of the ceilings are due to François-Édouard Picot (The Study and the Genius of the Arts unveiling Egypt to Greece) and Abel de Pujol (Egypt saved by Joseph).
The collection has been considerably enlarged by Mariette, with more than 6,000 items brought from the excavations of the Memphis Serapeum. The other objects come from excavations carried out by the French Institute of Cairo, from a collection from the Guimet Museum (1948) and from various purchases.
Currently, Egyptian Antiquities are spread over three floors: on the mezzanine, Roman Egypt and Coptic Egypt; on the ground floor and on the first floor, Pharaonic Egypt.
Among the most famous pieces exhibited are, for the Nagada period, the knife of Gebel el-Arak as well as the palette of the hunt. The major piece illustrating the art of the Thinite epoch is the stele of the Serpent King. The art of the Old Kingdom includes masterpieces such as the three statues of Sepa and his wife Nesa dating from the 3rd dynasty, the famous Scribe crouching, probably dating from the 4th dynasty, as well as the painted limestone statuette representing Raherka and his wife Merseankh. The chapel of the mastaba of Akhethetep, dismantled from its original site in Saqqarah and reassembled in one of the rooms on the ground floor, is an example of funerary architecture dating from the 5th Dynasty.
For the Middle Kingdom, there is a large wooden statue depicting Chancellor Nakhti and his sarcophagus, a beautiful bearer of offerings in stuccoed and painted wood, a large door lintel in limestone carved in relief in the hollow and temple of Montou in Medamoud, the sphinx of Amenemhat II (all works dating from the XIIth dynasty).
For the New Kingdom, the bust of Akhenaten dating from the XVIIIth dynasty, as well as the polychrome statuette depicting him and his wife Nefertiti, depicts the peculiarities of Amarna art; there are also several major works of the XIXth and XXth dynasties (which are those of the Ramessides), notably with the painted relief depicting Hathor hosting Sethi I and from the tomb of the Pharaoh in the valley of the kings, the ring to the horses and the sarcophagus of Ramses III. From the Late and Ptolemaic periods, the museum displays the pendant in the name of Osorkon II, a masterpiece of ancient goldsmithing, the statuette of Taharqa and the god Hemen (bronze, grauwacke and gold) , the bronze statuette with inlays depicting the divine worshiper of Amon Karomama, a bronze statue of Horus, the famous Zodiac of Dendera and several portraits of the Roman Fayum.
Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities
The department is spread over three floors: at the mezzanine the pre-Classical Greece; on the ground floor, classical and Hellenistic Greece, as well as Etruscan and Roman antiquities; on the first floor, which can be reached via the Daru staircase, where the stands Victory of Samothrace, the Greek ceramics exhibited in the Campana Gallery, terracotta figurines, bronzes and precious objects.
On July 7, 2010, after extensive renovation work, the Louvre Museum opened to the public the new rooms devoted to Greek and Hellenistic Greek art (-450/-430). As a result of this work, the Venus of Milo, one of the museum’s most famous works, is on the ground floor of the south-west corner of the Cour Carrée (Sully wing).
Among the most famous works exhibited in the department are Lady of Auxerre, Rampin knight, Dinos of the Gorgonian Painter, the metopes of the temple of Zeus at Olympia, Venus of Milo, Victory of Samothrace, numerous Roman copies from lost Greek originals, such as Praxiteles’ Apollo Sauroctone, Venus of Arles, Ares Borghese, Diana the huntress called Diana of Versailles, and the Gladiator Borghese. In ceramics, one finds especially important vases signed by the painters Exekias and Euphronios. For the Etruscan art, the major pieces are the golden fibula and canopes of Chiusi, the Sarcophagus of the Spouses of Cerveteri and the painted pinakes called “Campana reliefs”. For Roman art, we find the base of the statuary group of Domitius Ahenobarbus, Apollo of Piombino, Vase Borghese, the funeral statue of Marcellus in Hermes, the portrait of Agrippa of the Gabies type, emperors, especially Augustus, Trajan, Hadrian and Septimius Severus, the sarcophagus of Thessaloniki and the treasure of Boscoreale.