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Louvre Museum

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Louvre Museum

City: Paris
Address: 99, rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Coordinates: 48°51’40” north, 2°20’09” east
Date of opening: August 10, 1793
Collections: Oriental Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities of the Louvre, Islamic Art, Sculptures, Objets d’art, Paintings, Graphic Arts
Number of works: 38,000 in exhibition, 554,498 in total (including 225,000 graphic works)
Area: 210,000 m2 including 60,600 m2 of galleries
Website: www.louvre.fr

The Louvre Museum is a museum of art and antiquities located in the center of Paris in the Louvre. It is the largest of the world’s art museums by its exhibition surface of 72,735 m2. Its collections include nearly 460,000 works. These represent the Western art of the Middle Ages in 1848, those of the ancient civilizations that preceded and influenced it (Oriental, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman), and the arts of early Christians and Islam. The museum has 2,100 employees (civil servants, contractors and temporary staff), including 1,200 security guards, a guard for each of the 403 showrooms, which are complemented by the staff assigned to the 900 cameras in the remote monitoring system.

Located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, between the right bank of the Seine and the Rue de Rivoli, the museum is marked by the glass pyramid of its reception hall, erected in 1989 in the cour Napoleon and which has become emblematic; while the equestrian statue of Louis XIV is the starting point of the historical axis of Paris. With approximately nine million annual visitors (since 2011), the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world, and the most visited paying cultural site in France. Among his most famous pieces are the Mona Lisa, the Venus of Milo, The Crouching Scribe, The Victory of Samothrace and the Code of Hammurabi.

The Louvre has a long history of artistic and historical conservation, from the Ancien Régime to the present day. Following the departure of Louis XIV for the Château de Versailles at the end of the 17th century, a part of the royal collections of paintings and antique sculptures was stored there. After having lodged several academies during a century, including that of painting and sculpture, as well as various artists housed by the king, the former royal palace was truly transformed during the Revolution into a “Central Museum of the Arts of the Republic”. It opens in 1793 by exhibiting about 660 works, mainly from royal collections or confiscated from emigrated nobles or churches. Subsequently, the collections continued to be enriched by war-taking, acquisitions, patronage, legacies, donations, and archaeological discoveries.

Variety of exhibited works

A universalist museum, the Louvre covers a wide chronology and geographical area, from antiquity to 1848 and from western Europe to Iran via Greece, Egypt and the Middle East. It consists of eight departments which, including the depots in other museums, include 554,498 works on October 4, 2014, of which 38,000 are exhibited on 60,600 m2: Egyptian Antiquities (66,300), Oriental Antiquities (137,628), Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities (68,362), Islamic Arts (15,311), Paintings (12,660), Sculptures (6,115), Art objects (23,405) and Graphic Arts (122,212) from the Rothschild collection (86,858) and chalcography (14,647). Almost all exhibited works, including some of the new acquisitions, are available online on the Atlas base and from 2016 all collections are integrated into the new MuseumPlus base.

The works of the museum are varied in nature: paintings, sculptures, drawings, ceramics, archeological objects, art objects of various materials among others. Among the most famous pieces of the museum are the Hammurabi Code, the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, The Liberty Guiding the People by Eugene Delacroix or the Victory of Samothrace restored in 2014.

In Paris, several national museums are complementary to the collections of the Louvre.

The Royal Palace

At the origin of the Louvre existed a castle, built by King Philip Augustus in 1190, and occupying the southwest quarter of the current Cour Carrée. The plan of the fortress consisted of a quadrilateral about 70 to 80 meters long, surrounded by ditches, flanked by towers and with two entrances, in the middle of which was a mighty keep, the large tower of the Louvre, on which depended all fiefs of France. One of its main missions was the surveillance of the downstream part of the Seine, one of the traditional routes used during the invasions and raids since the time of the Vikings. With the transfer of the goods of the Order of the Temple to the order of the Hospital, the royal treasure previously preserved at the House of the Temple of Paris is transported in 1317 to the Louvre. Charles V made the castle a royal residence.

The Grand Tower became obsolete and was destroyed by Francis I in 1528. In 1546, the king began the transformation of the fortress into a luxurious residence by having the western part of the medieval walls removed and replaced by a Renaissance wing erected by Pierre Lescot. These works continued under the reign of Henry II and Charles IX. The southern part of the “old Louvre” was demolished to leave room for a Renaissance wing.

In 1594, Henri IV decided to unite the palace of the Louvre with the palace of the Tuileries built by Catherine de Medicis: it is the “Grand Dessein”, the first stage of which is the Grande galerie which joins the pavilion of Lesdiguières (in honor of Francois de Bonne, Baron de Champsaur, last constable of France and first duke of Lesdiguières) in the pavilion of La Trémoïlle (in honor of Henri de La Trémoille (1598-1674), Mestre de camp of the light cavalry of France).

The Cour Carrée was built by the architects Lemercier and then Le Vau, under the reign of Louis XIII and Louis XIV, quadrupling the size of the old Renaissance court (thus requiring the demolition of the rest of the medieval enclosure). The decoration and layout of the palace were then directed by painters like Poussin, Romanelli and Le Brun. But all this was abruptly interrupted when Louis XIV chose Versailles as the center of power and royal residence in 1678. The Louvre remained for a long time as it was. It was only in the 18th century that new projects, led by Gabriel and Soufflot, continued and completed the “Grand Design”. One of these new projects is to transform the Louvre into a museum. It was born under Louis XV but would only really come to fruition with the Revolution.

Translated from Wikipedia

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