French Painting Collection, Louvre Museum, Paris, France

A large part of the paintings kept in the museum are works by French painters, which makes the Louvre a sort of temple of French painting until the 19th century: each century is represented by major and very often unique works. The French painting collection belong to the Department of Paintings, which is one of the eight departments that make up the Louvre Museum. A large part of the paintings kept in the museum, and is one of the largest and most famous collections in the world.

Exemplifying the French School are the early Avignon Pietà of Enguerrand Quarton; the anonymous painting of King Jean le Bon (c. 1360), possibly the oldest independent portrait in Western painting to survive from the postclassical era;  Hyacinthe Rigaud’s Louis XIV; Jacques-Louis David’s The Coronation of Napoleon; Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa; and Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People. Nicolas Poussin, the Le Nain brothers, Philippe de Champaigne, Le Brun, La Tour, Watteau, Fragonard, Ingres, Corot, and Delacroix are well represented.

The collections originate from the collection of the kings of France, started in Fontainebleau by François I. They were constantly enriched during the Ancien Régime by purchases and donations, and remained so under the Revolution and the Empire (revolutionary seizures, Napoleon ‘s conquests), while the Louvre Museum was created in 1793. Thus, French paintings from the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, mainly the artists’ reception pieces, were seized as early as the Revolution before returning to the Louvre several years later.

First exhibited in the Grande Galerie and the Salon Carré, the paintings were then more widely displayed in the Cour Carrée, in the immediate vicinity of the artists’ lodgings. In the 19th century, increases came from purchases from private collections (collection of the Marquis de Campana) and donations (collection of Doctor La Caze, 1869). In 1986, when the Musée d’Orsay opened, the collections dating from after 1848 left the department. The French Painting Collection now mainly located the Denon wing, the paintings are presented in chronological order.

Louvre is temple of French painting, preservation of a large number of well-known paintings includes different eras and genres until the 19th century. Each century is represented by major and very often significant works for the history of art. Such is the case of the Portrait of John II the Good, from the middle of the 14th century, the oldest independent portrait preserved since Antiquity. From the 15th century, the museum preserves in particular the Pietà de Villeneuve-lès-Avignon by Enguerrand Quarton and the Portrait of Charles VII byJean Fouquet, first portrait where the subject is painted from the front and no longer in profile. For the 16th century, the School of Fontainebleau, which then dominated the artistic landscape, is very present in the collections, with in particular a series of portraits and miniatures of Jean and François Clouet, including the famous Portrait of François Ier.

The 17th century or Grand Siècle, a period of growth and emancipation of French painting, presents an immense collection punctuated by several masterpieces such as L’Enlèvement des Sabines and Et in Arcadia ego by Poussin, a painter of whom forty works are presented, The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds by Georges de La Tour or the Portrait of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud. Besides these painters, Valentin de Boulogne, Simon Vouet, the Le Nain brothers, Philippe de Champaigne,Claude Lorrain, Eustache Le Sueur, Laurent de La Hyre, Sébastien Bourdon and Charles Le Brun are also particularly well represented.

For the 18th century, the museum holds no less than thirteen works by Antoine Watteau, including Pierrot and Le Pèlerinage à l’île de Cythère, twenty-five paintings by Fragonard (including Le Verrou), thirty by Chardin (including La Raie), twenty-two by François Boucher or even twenty-six paintings by Hubert Robert. There are also, for this period, many works by Nicolas de Largillierre, Nicolas Lancret, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Jean-Marc Nattier,Claude Joseph Vernet, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes.

Finally, the Napoleonic period and the first half of the 19th century constitute the ultimate jewel of the collection: we find for these periods masterpieces such as Le Sacre de Napoléon by David, Le Radeau de la Méduse by Géricault, La Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix or La Grande Odalisque by Ingres. The museum also exhibits a large number of major works by these painters.

The museum also preserves works by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, Girodet-Trioson, François Gérard, Antoine-Jean Gros, Louis-Léopold Boilly, Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, Eugène Isabey, Théodore Chassériau, Hippolyte Flandrin, Théodore Rousseau, Jean- Francois Milletand the world’s largest collection of paintings by Camille Corot with some 81 paintings.

The Mollien room
The color of the walls gave their name to these huge rooms which house the largest canvases in the Louvre: you can admire some of the masterpieces of 19th century French painting, from David to Delacroix. Jacques-Louis David, Théodore Géricault, Eugène Delacroix… The biggest names in French painting rub shoulders on these walls.

Originally, the Red Rooms were built during the major expansion works of the Louvre carried out by Napoleon III. The red and gold decoration, characteristic of the splendor that the emperor wished to give to the museum, was created in 1863 by the painter Alexandre Dominique Denuelle. The color red brings out the paintings where brown tones often dominate. First of all, the works of French masters of the 17th and 18th centuries are hung there. The large formats of the 19th will not make their entry there until later.

Alongside famous portraits, such as Madame Récamier by David or Mademoiselle Rivière by Ingres, the paintings are above all historical paintings. Since the 17th century, this pictorial genre has been considered the most important and prestigious in France. The works serve history, whether modern (Les Batailles de Napoléon, by Gros), ancient, mythological (Aurore et Céphale, by Guérin) or biblical (Le Déluge, by Girodet). Some artists choose themes considered exotic, The Death of Sardanapalus, by Delacroix, or even, more rarely, current events whose scope is only apparently anecdotal, such as The Raft of the Medusa by Géricault.

Jacques-Louis David painted the Coronation of Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of Empress Josephine in Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral in December 2, 1804. With 6 meters high, the canvas is nearly 10 meters long, spectator will be impress and the illusion of attending the ceremony in person. This is the effect produced by large formats, these gigantic historical paintings. Even Napoleon I exclaimed “We walk in this painting” in front of the painting of the Coronation painted by David.

Liberty Leading the People is Delacroix’s most famous work. Its subject: “Les Trois Glorieuses”, these three revolutionary days of July 1830 during which the Parisian people rose up against King Charles X. This painting which combines allegory and historical event is well known, it is today a model of freedom and the struggles for freedom. Delacroix represents the people of Paris crossing a barricade. At the top of its composition, it encamps a woman, half ancient goddess, half woman of the people, who leads the crowd brandishing the tricolor flag. It’s freedom. The combination of blue, white and red colors is repeated several times in the table.

The Medici Gallery
In the Galerie Médicis is exhibited one of the largest painted decorations from a Parisian palace. This vast room was specially designed to accommodate the huge paintings by Rubens which form the Cycle of Marie de Médicis. It restores the splendors of the ceremonial gallery that the queen, on her return from exile, had staged in her Luxembourg Palace.

The series of paintings of Marie de Medici hung in a much narrower gallery than this one. The style is baroque, with varied and abundant compositions. From the draperies to the clouds, everything is passion and movement. The bodies of the characters, round and full, with pearly complexions seem to swirl in a tumult of colors. And despite this profusion and this variety, all the paintings remain harmonious.

Run through by a baroque breath, the cycle mixes with great freedom historical scenes and allegorical figures, the realism of portraits and the inventiveness of mythological characters. It summons Greco-Roman divinities and Christian references to glorify the queen. In L’Instruction de la Reine, for example, Minerva, the goddess of the Arts and Sciences, and Mercury, messenger of the gods, take part in her education as a future sovereign.

Louvre Museum
The Louvre is the world’s most-visited museum, and a historic landmark in Paris, France. The Louvre Museum is a Parisian art and archeology museum housed in the former royal palace of the Louvre. Opened in 1793, it is one of the largest and richest museums in the world, but also the busiest with nearly 9 million visitors a year. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. Remnants of the Medieval Louvre fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to urban expansion, the fortress eventually lost its defensive function, and in 1546 Francis I converted it into the primary residence of the French Kings. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace.

The Musée 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. The Louvre Museum presents very varied collections, with a large part devoted to the art and civilizations of Antiquity: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and RomeLogo indicating tariffs to quote that they; medieval Europe (setting around the ruins of the keep of Philippe-Auguste, on which the Louvre was built) and Napoleonic France are also widely represented.

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 Palace of Versailles at the end of the 17th century century, part of the royal collections of paintings and antique sculptures are stored there. After having housed several academies for 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 opened in 1793, exhibiting around 660 works, mainly from royal collections or confiscated from emigrant nobles or from churches. Subsequently, the collections will continue to be enriched by wartime spoils, acquisitions, sponsorships, legacies, donations, and archaeological discoveries.

Located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, between the right bank of the Seine and the rue de Rivoli, the museum is distinguished by the glass pyramid of its reception hall, erected in 1989 in the Napoleon courtyard and which has become emblematic, while the equestrian statue of Louis XIV constitutes the starting point of the Parisian historical axis. Among his most famous plays are The Mona Lisa, The Venus de Milo, The Crouching Scribe, The Victory of Samothrace, and The Code of Hammurabi.