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 Louvre Palace houses the largest museum in the world. 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 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 and Napoleonic France are also widely represented.
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. The twelfth century fortress was extended and refurbished several times throughout the centuries. Before it opened as a museum, King Charles V and Philippe II chose this palace as their residence, decorating it with their ever growing art collections.
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. Featuring the French monarch’s art collection and the result of the pillaging which was carried out during Napoleon’s Empire, the Louvre Museum opened in 1793. Since its inauguration, the museum was free for the public during a few days a week and was considered revolutionary for its time.
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.
In 1981, as part of a vast project that would last until 1997 (Le Grand Louvre), the Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei was commissioned to design a new reception area and improve access to the museum. Built with the same proportions of the pyramid of Cheops, all steel and glass, is the main gateway to the Louvre and official. Pyramid was officially opened on 30 May 1989 to coincide with the bicentenary of the French Revolution.
The Louvre is so vast that one could easily spend several days exploring its exhibitions. Visitors will at least need a half day to get a general idea of the Louvre and see the most important paintings, sculptures and other types of art. The Louvre museum offers guests an audioguide with information on each an every piece in the gallery.
The Louvre Museum includes various very rich collections of works of art from various civilizations, cultures and periods. The enormous collection is organized by themes in various departments: an Oriental Antiquities department, Egyptian Antiquities department, Greek Antiquities department and Roman and Etruscan departments. The museum also includes a part on the history of the actual palace, including the Louvre during the Middle Ages, Islamic art, paintings, sculptures and graphic art. Among the most famous plays are The Mona Lisa, The Venus de Milo, The Crouching Scribe, The Victory of Samothrace, and The Code of Hammurabi.
Department of Oriental Antiquities
The Department of Oriental Antiquities of the Louvre Museum in Paris, dates from 1881 and presents an overview of early Near Eastern civilization and “first settlements”, before the arrival of Islam. The Department of Oriental Antiquities preserves objects from a region located between present-day India and the Mediterranean Sea (Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan …).
It is one of the three most important collections in the world (along with those of theBritish Museum and the Pergamon Museum) with more than 150,000 objects. The department presents 6,500 works in around thirty rooms, including universal masterpieces such as the Code of Hammurabi or the impressive Lamassus from the palace of Khorsabad.
It offers an almost complete panorama of the ancient civilizations of the Near and Middle East. The collection’s development corresponds to archaeological work such as Paul-Émile 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.
The museum contains exhibits from Sumer and the city of Akkad, with monuments such as the Prince of Lagash’s Stele of the Vultures from 2450 BC and the stele erected by Naram-Sin, King of Akkad, to celebrate a victory over barbarians in the Zagros Mountains. The 2.25-metre (7.38 ft) Code of Hammurabi, discovered in 1901, displays Babylonian Laws prominently, so that no man could plead their ignorance. The 18th-century BC mural of the Investiture of Zimrilim and the 25th-century BC Statue of Ebih-Il found in the ancient city-state of Mari are also on display at the museum.
The Persian portion of Louvre contains work from the archaic period, like the Funerary Head and the Persian Archers of Darius I. This section also contains rare objects from Persepolis which were also lent to the British Museum for its Ancient Persia exhibition in 2005.
The Assyrian Museum of the Louvre, inaugurated in 1847 and then attached to the Department of Antiquities, is the first museum in the world devoted to Oriental antiquities. The Department of Oriental Antiquities is officially created by decree of theAugust 20, 1881, following the excavations of Tello and the considerable progress in the rediscovery of Eastern antiquity to which the section of the Assyrian museum contributed actively. Throughout the 19th century and during the first half of the 20th century, the collections developed thanks to the explorations and excavations carried out by French diplomats and archaeologists in the Near and Middle East, in particular on the sites of Khorsabad, Tello, Susa, Mari, Ugarit or even Byblos.
With more than 150,000 objects, the Department of Oriental Antiquities of the Louvre Museum presents one of the most important collections in the world, which makes it possible to offer one of the most complete panoramas of the ancient history of the Near and Middle East. The current presentation of the Department of Oriental Antiquities is articulated around three main areas of collections, distributed according to geographical and cultural groups: Mesopotamia; Ancient Iran (Elam, Persia…) and Central Asia; Pays du Levant.
These works cover some 8,000 years of history over an immense territory ranging for certain periods from Central Asia to Spain and from the Black Sea to the Indian Ocean. Since the Neolithic era, many cultures and civilizations have succeeded each other in this region, where we see in particular the appearance of a political, military and religious administration, or the birth of the State according to a common formula. It is also the cradle of writing, which appeared around -3300 in Uruk, Mesopotamia.
The Khorsabad courtyard presents the remains of a gigantic city built in barely ten years, at the end of the 8th century BC. At that time, the north of present-day Iraq belonged to the powerful Assyrian Empire. King Sargon II decides to build a new capital in Khorsabad, near Mosul. But on the death of its founder, the city lost its status as capital. It was not until the 19th century that French archaeologists rediscovered the remains of the site. This is how the first Assyrian museum in the world was born in the Louvre.
In the 8th century BC, King Sargon II reigned over the Assyrian Empire. Towards -713, he takes a strong decision which must establish his authority: to found a new capital. He chose a vast site at the foot of Mount, in the north of present-day Iraq. This will be Dûr-Sharrukin, the “fortress of Sargon”. The king undertook the construction of this new city which must be commensurate with his omnipotence. Its dimensions exceed the largest cities of the ancient world. His palace alone has 200 rooms and courtyards.
But on the death of Sargon II in -705, his son and successor, King Sennacherib, abandoned the work of the still unfinished city to transfer the capital to Nineveh. Sargon II was killed in a fierce battle. The gradually forgotten site was only found in 1843, during pioneering excavations undertaken by Paul-Émile Botta, vice-consul of France in Mosul. This is the beginning of Mesopotamian and more broadly Eastern archaeology. With this discovery reappear the vestiges of a forgotten civilization.
Under the glass roof of the courtyard, the light plays on the large sculpted plaques. Originally, many of these reliefs were also in a courtyard but out in the open. Many adorned the great court of honor which gave access to the throne room in the gigantic palace of Sargon II. These alabaster slabs covered the base of the mudbrick walls and were accented with rich colors, including blue and red. We can still see some traces of it, especially on the tiara (royal crown) worn by Sargon II. The bas-reliefs represent various scenes (bow hunting, processions of dignitaries) which evoke life at the court of Sargon II and glorify the king. Several panels seem to show the transport of cedar wood from Lebanon to build the new capital.
This sumptuous decor also had a magical function. This is particularly the case of the protective spirits carved on the walls: they were to watch over the city and its palace. They are therefore represented in places that require special protection, such as doors. This is why the passages are framed by monumental winged bulls. Each was carved from a single gigantic block of alabaster and weighs approximately 28 tons. These fantastic creatures, called aladlammû or lamassu, have the body and ears of bulls, the wings of an eagle and a human face wearing a high tiara, similar to representations of Sargon II. This hybrid nature as well as the double or triple horns are marks of their divinity in the Mesopotamian world. Combining the powers of these different beings, their power protects the city and its palace in a beneficial way.
In the row of five rooms with neoclassical decor are exhibited the collections of Oriental Antiquities and in particular works from the Levant and ancient Iran. But these rooms had other functions before being transformed into museum rooms. Among the 100,000 objects in the Oriental Antiquities collection, the Angoulême gallery presents works from the Levant, that is to say from present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Cyprus. Some of these works date back to 7000 BC. They are among the oldest in the museum’s collections.
Discovered for the most part during French archaeological campaigns, they testify to the artistic refinement of this zone of exchange between the Mediterranean and Asia where multiple influences intersect. This crossroads between Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the Aegean world saw the development of prosperous cities like Byblos and Ugarit. Statues, stelae and mythological texts evoke the religious world of these kingdoms whose memory the Bible has transmitted to us. The ivory boxes, gold cups and jewels reveal its richness and artistic abundance.
Department of Islamic Arts
The Islamic arts department of the Louvre, formed in August 2003, brings together collections covering the entire Islamic world (geographical area between Spain and India) from the Hegira to the 19th century. The Islamic art collection, the museum’s newest, spans “thirteen centuries and three continents”. These exhibits, of 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.
This department brings together several jewels of Islamic art: the pyxis of al-Mughira, a Spanish ivory box dated 968, the peacock dish, important Ottoman ceramics, and especially the baptistery of Saint Louis, one of the most famous pieces. and the most enigmatic of all Islamic art, created by Muhammad ibn al-Zayn in the early 14th century. It is also remarkable for the important material from the excavations of Susa (now Iran), in which the museum took part.
Since September 22, 2012, the arts of Islam are exhibited at the Louvre in the Cour Visconti. This space allows the exhibition of 3,000 works, from the collections of the Louvre, but also from the museum of decorative arts. The Cour Visconti is covered with an aerial veil made up of glazing of 1,600 triangles, superimposed with two layers of aluminum of different thicknesses. It is the largest collection of Islamic objects in the world with that of the Metropolitan of New York.
In September 2019, a new and improved Islamic art department was opened by Princess Lamia bint Majed Al Saud. The new department exhibits 3,000 pieces were collected from Spain to India via the Arabian peninsula dating from the 7th to the 19th centuries.
The collection comprises 16,500 works (including 3,500 deposited by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs), which makes it one of the largest in the world with that of the Metropolitan Museum in New York (12,000 or 13,000 works), and those of the British Museum, the V&A Museum and the Islamic Museum of Berlin.
The arts of Islam have been present in French collections for centuries. In 2002, President Jacques Chirac calls for the creation of an independent department of Islamic Arts at the Louvre Museum. This department is created by the decree of August 1, 2003. A competition for the creation of the necessary spaces was launched in 2003. The winners of the competition were announced on September 23, 2005: Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti, associated with Renaud Piérard. The architectural envelope was completed in 2011.
The new rooms were opened on September 18, 2012. In total, 3,000 works are exhibited in 3 rooms covering 3,000 m² of exhibition space (4,000 m² for the MET). From the windows of certain rooms of the palace, one can see, in the heart of one of the interior courtyards, an astonishing undulating mesh of gilded metal. Since 2012, it is here, in an architecture of glass and light, that you can come and admire the Louvre’s Islamic Arts collection.
This glass and metal structure is the work of architects Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini and scenographer Renaud Piérard. It fits into the Cour Visconti, formerly open to the sky. But this is only the visible part: the collections are spread over two levels, with two different lighting atmospheres. The upper level opens like a glass box placed in the courtyard, under an astonishing corrugated metal roof. Sand dune or mashrabiya, everyone can give free rein to their imagination. Here, the works are bathed in natural light, but protected from the sun’s rays by the metal structure.
On the lower level, on the contrary, it is the reign of the mysterious discovery of treasures in a subdued atmosphere worthy of an Ali Baba’s cave. The works shimmer with their precious materials and their thousand colors. They transport us on multiple trips to the Orient, between Cordoba, Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, Aleppo, Mosul, Istanbul, Isfahan and Agra in India.
Discover the variety and luxury of these objects that belonged to caliphs, sultans or princes. Louvre Museum discover the inventiveness and the excellence of the artists through the shiny ceramics, sometimes with golden reflections or in Chinese blue, the metal basins and vases encrusted with gold and silver, the delicately carved ivories. Louvre Museum also immerse ourselves in the fascinating world of landscapes, gardens, scenes of life in palaces, through the masterpieces of miniature painting, silks or carpets. The superb enamelled glass lamps take us to the mosques of Cairo and the colored tiles of Iznik ceramics, to the monuments of Istanbul or Ispahan.
Department of Egyptian Antiquities
The Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre is a department of the Louvre that is responsible for artifacts from the Nile civilizations which date from 4,000 BC to the 4th century. The collection, comprising over 50,000 pieces, is 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 of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre Museum maintains one of the world’s main Egyptological collections outside Egyptian territory, along with the Egyptian Museum of Turin and the British Museum and, in Egypt, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
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-François Champollion translated the Rosetta Stone, Charles X decreed that an Egyptian Antiquities department be created. Champollion advised the purchase of three collections, formed by Edmé-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.
Guarded by the Large Sphinx (c. 2000 BC), the collection is housed in around 30 rooms. Holdings include art, papyrus scrolls, mummies, tools, clothing, jewelry, games, musical instruments, and weapons. Pieces from the ancient period include the Gebel el-Arak Knife from 3400 BC, The Seated Scribe, and the Head of King Djedefre. Middle Kingdom art, “known for its gold work and statues”, moved from realism to idealization; this is exemplified by the schist statue of Amenemhatankh and the wooden Offering Bearer. The New Kingdom and Coptic Egyptian sections are deep, but the statue of the goddess Nephthys and the limestone depiction of the goddess Hathor demonstrate New Kingdom sentiment and wealth.
The collection covers all eras of ancient Egyptian civilization, from the time of Nagada to Roman and Coptic Egypt. Currently, Egyptian Antiquities are spread over three floors of the Sully wing of the museum, over some thirty rooms in total: on the mezzanine floor, we find Roman Egypt and Coptic Egypt; on the ground floor and on the first floor, Pharaonic Egypt.
The Egyptian collections extend over 2 floors. On the first, a presentation of the daily life of the Egyptians through thematic rooms, on the second, a chronological presentation of ancient Egypt from the predynastic period to the Ptolemaic period. The rooms of the Charles X Museum notably host the end of the chronological presentation of the Louvre’s Egyptian Antiquities: the New Empire, the Third Intermediate Period, the Late Period and the Ptolemaic Period.
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 exhibits are the Gebel el-Arak knife and the hunting palette from the Nagada period. The major piece illustrating the art of the Thinite period 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 Third Dynasty, the famous Crouching Scribe, probably dating from the Fourth Dynasty, as well as the painted limestone statuette representing Raherka and his wife Merseânkh. The chapel of the mastaba of Akhethotep, dismantled from its original site at Saqqara and reassembled in one of the rooms on the ground floor, is an example of funerary architecture dating from the Fifth Dynasty.
The Middle Kingdom extends from around -2033 to -1786, corresponding to the XI th dynasty (-2106 to -1963), which saw the country reunified around -2033 by Montouhotep II and to the XII th dynasty (-1963 to -1786), golden age of the Middle Kingdom. This period is mainly represented in the Louvre by works dating from the XII th dynasty. For the Middle Kingdom, there is the large wooden statue representing the Chancellor Nakhti as well as his sarcophagus, a very beautiful carrier of offerings in stuccoed and painted wood, a large door lintel in limestone carved in relief in the hollow and coming from the temple of Montou at Médamoud, the sphinx of Amenemhat II (works all dating from the XII th dynasty).
For the New Empire, we note the bust of Akhenaton dating from the XVIII th dynasty as well as the polychrome statuette representing him with his wife Nefertiti, works illustrating the particularities of Amarna art; there are also several major works of the 19th and 20th dynasties (which are those of the Ramessides) with in particular the painted relief representing Hathor welcoming Seti I and coming from the tomb of the pharaoh in the Valley of the Kings, the horse ring and the basin of the sarcophagus of Ramses III.
From the Late Period and the Ptolemaic period, the museum exhibits in particular the pendant with the name of Osorkon II, a masterpiece of ancient goldsmithery, the statuette of Taharqa and the god Hémen (bronze, greywacke and gold), the bronze statuette with inlays representing the divine worshiper of Amon Karomama, a bronze statue of Horus, the famous zodiac of Dendera as well as several portraits of the Fayoum from the Roman.
Crypte du sphinx
A strange creature, half human half animal, seems to guard the entrance to the Egyptian collections. From the depths of its crypt, the body of a lion and the face of a king, the great sphinx of Tanis welcomes the visitor with its enigmatic figure. It announces a vast journey of more than 6,000 works covering nearly 5,000 years of Egyptian history.
On the ground floor of the Sully wing, nineteen rooms make up the thematic route. On the first floor of the Sully wing, eleven rooms make up the chronological itinerary, with a division between the space for showcasing major works and denser study galleries.
The first rooms evoke the major aspects of Egyptian civilization such as the importance of the Nile and its annual flood which allows agriculture. The chapel of the mastaba of Akhethotep makes it possible to see the monumentality of Egyptian architecture. A room is devoted to hieroglyphs and then we discover the daily life of the Egyptians, their crafts, their furniture, their ornaments and their clothes. The temple hall, then the collection of sarcophagi, recall the central place of religion and funerary rites in Egyptian civilization.
On the first floor, a historical and artistic approach to this civilization is offered. This time, it’s about discovering the chronological evolution of Egyptian art over nearly 5000 years. The visitor notably crosses the famous gaze of the Crouching Scribe or can admire the statues of kings and queens such as Sesostris III, Ahmes Nefertari, Hatshepsout, Amenophis III, Nefertiti and Akhenaten or Ramses II.
Egypt is known to us today, largely thanks to its tombs, their decoration and their furniture. Under the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 BC), the king’s entourage was authorized to build rich burials called mastaba. These massive buildings include a burial chamber at the bottom of a well where the mummy of the deceased is placed in its sarcophagus. Above this well, in the superstructure, is a chapel in which the funerary cult was carried out.
Purchased from the Egyptian government in 1903, the mastaba chapel of a certain Akhethetep was rebuilt stone by stone in the museum. Inside, we discover the bas-reliefs painted and captioned with hieroglyphic inscriptions. A veritable mine of information on the daily life of the ancient Egyptians, peasant life in the Nile Valley, field work according to the seasons. Among the most famous exhibits are the Gebel el-Arak knife and the hunting palette from the Nagada period. The major piece illustrating the art of the Thinite era is the Serpent-King Stela.
Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
The department is spread over three floors: on the mezzanine preclassical Greece; on the ground floor classical and Hellenistic Greece, as well as Roman antiquities; on the first floor, which can be accessed by the Daru staircase where the Winged Victory of Samothrace sits, the Etruscan collections (rooms 660, 662, 663), the Greek ceramics exhibited in the Campana Gallery, the terracotta figurines, the bronzes and valuables.
The Ancient Greece Collection
After major refurbishment work, the Louvre Museum opens to the public new rooms devoted to classical and Hellenistic Greek art (-450/-430). As a result of this work, the Venus de Milo, one of the museum’s best-known works, is on the ground floor of the southwest corner of the Cour Carrée (Sully wing).
Among the most famous works exhibited in the department are, for Greece, the Dame d’Auxerre, the horseman Rampin, the dinos of the Gorgon Painter, the metopes from the temple of Zeus at Olympia, the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samothrace, numerous Roman copies after lost Greek originals, such as Praxiteles’ Sauroctonian Apollo, the Venus of Arles, the Ares Borghese, the Huntress Diana known as Diana of Versailles or the Gladiator Borghese. In ceramics, we find in particular important vases signed by the painters Exekias and Euphronios.
For Etruscan art, the major pieces are the gold fibula and the canopies of Chiusi, the sarcophagus of the Spouses of Cerveteri and the painted pinakes called “Campana plates”. For Roman art, we find the base of the statuary group of Domitius Ahenobarbus, the Apollo of Piombino, the Borghese Vase, the funerary statue of Marcellus in Hermes, the portrait of Agrippaof the type of Gabies, numerous portraits of emperors, in particular of Augustus, Trajan, Hadrian and Septimius Severus, the sarcophagus of Thessaloniki as well as the treasure of Boscoreale.
The Greek art collection belong to the The Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities department, which is spread over three floors: on the mezzanine preclassical Greece; on the ground floor classical and Hellenistic Greece, as well as Roman antiquities; on the first floor, which can be accessed by the Daru staircase where the Winged Victory of Samothrace sits, the Etruscan collections (rooms 660, 662, 663), the Greek ceramics exhibited in the Campana Gallery, the terracotta figurines, the bronzes and valuables.
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 Bibliothèque nationale.
The archaic is demonstrated by jewellery and pieces such as the limestone Lady of Auxerre, from 640 BC; and the cylindrical Hera of Samos, c. 570–560 BC. After the 4th century BC, focus on the human form increased, exemplified by the Borghese Gladiator. The Louvre holds masterpieces from the Hellenistic era, including The Winged Victory of Samothrace (190 BC) and the Venus de Milo, symbolic of classical art. The long Galerie Campana displays an outstanding collection of more than one thousand Greek potteries. In the galleries paralleling the Seine, much of the museum’s Roman sculpture is displayed. The Roman portraiture is representative of that genre; examples include the portraits of Agrippa and Annius Verus; among the bronzes is the Greek Apollo of Piombino.
The Greece antiquities Collection
The beginning of the art of preclassical Greece is essentially represented in the department by terracotta figurines from the Neolithic period (6500-3200 BC) produced in Thessaly. The Cyclades archipelago, notably in Kéros, Naxos (variety known as “of Spedos”), is represented by marble statuettes and vases from the Early Bronze Age (3200-2000 BC).
Some pieces bear witness to the Minoan civilization ((2000 – 1400 BC) including a fresco fragment (female head in profile, Phaïstos) which recalls the palatial decorations of the time at Knossos. The Mycenaean civilization (2000 -1050 BC) is essentially represented here by funerary material including a terracotta chariot (bige) witnessing the use of combat chariots by Mycenaean warriors.
The Geometric Greece Period, ranging from approximately 900 to 700 BC., is represented here by ceramics with geometric patterns that may include human figures or stylized animal representations. Then will come, the orientalizing and archaic periods.
Classical and Hellenistic Greece Collection
This section collects the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and numerous Roman copies after lost Greek originals, such as the Sauroctonian Apollo of Praxiteles, the Venus of Arles, the Ares Borghese, the Diana huntress known as Diana of Versailles or the Borghese Gladiator.
The French government, organized the Morea expedition in 1828. Inspired by the scientific expedition of the Egyptian campaign of 1798, it was decided to add to the sending of the troops a group of scholars. The Greek Senate, meeting at Argos in 1829, donated to France elements of six metopes from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.
Greek ceramics Collection
With more than 13,000 works, it is the richest collection in the world. In ceramics, in particular important vases signed by the painters Exekias and Euphronios.
The Antiques Gallery
Instead of the former royal apartments, the Louvre’s Galerie des Antiques welcomes visitors in search of masterpieces of Greek sculpture, perhaps the most famous of which is the Venus de Milo. Along with the Mona Lisa and the Victory of Samothrace, she is one of the three great ladies of the Louvre Museum. Its name comes from the Greek island of Milo where it was discovered in 1820. Acquired almost immediately by the Marquis de Rivière, then French ambassador to Greece, it was then offered to King Louis XVIII. The sovereign in turn offered it to the Louvre in March 1821.
As is the case with certain ancient statues, the Venus de Milo is made up of several blocks of marble from Paros. Her body was sculpted in two parts: the connection between the bust and the legs is barely visible at the hips, because it is concealed in the drape. The arms were also sculpted and then connected to the bust, as evidenced by the fixing hole at the level of the left shoulder. Other sculptures in the room show the connection system of the blocks carved separately and then assembled.
At the time of bringing it into the Louvre, it was planned to have the missing arms restored. But the idea is finally abandoned so as not to distort the work. This absence of arms makes it difficult to identify the statue: the Greek gods are often recognizable by natural objects or elements, called attributes, which they hold in their hands. At the time of its discovery, therefore hesitate on the identity of the goddess.
The Venus de Milo is believed to depict Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love, whose Roman counterpart was Venus. The sculpture is sometimes called the Aphrodite de Milos, due to the imprecision of naming the Greek sculpture after a Roman deity (Venus). Some scholars theorize that the statue actually represents the sea-goddess Amphitrite, who was venerated on the island in which the statue was found.
When the Venus de Milo entered the Louvre in 1821, it was the start of a series of numerous moves. Quite logically, it was first placed in the Antiquities gallery, in the room it occupies today. One can come and admire the Venus de Milo in a large room where she is almost alone, at the end of a long row. The rich red marble decor dates from the time of Napoleon I at the very beginning of the 19th century.
At the top of the Daru staircase soars the Victory of Samothrace, one of the most famous statues kept in the Louvre Museum. This spectacular setting has been carefully thought out to highlight this masterpiece of Hellenistic Greek art. Ancient sculpture and modern architecture make this staircase one of the emblematic places of the museum.
She seems to be floating in the air! The Victory of Samothrace is one of the rare Greek statues whose original location is known with precision. It was made as an offering to the gods for the sanctuary on the Greek island of Samothrace. Placed in height, one should be able to see it from afar. This is what this staging at the top of the Daru stairs wants to evoke. Nike, the winged goddess of Victory, is gripped the moment she lands on the ship.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, or the Nike of Samothrace, is a votive monument originally found on the island of Samothrace, north of the Aegean Sea. It is a masterpiece of Greek sculpture from the Hellenistic era, dating from the beginning of the 2nd century BCE. It is composed of a statue representing the goddess Niké (Victory), whose head and arms are missing, and its base in the shape of a ship’s bow.
The total height of the monument is 5.57 meters including the socle; the statue alone measures 2.75 meters. The sculpture is one of a small number of major Hellenistic statues surviving in the original, rather than Roman copies. Winged Victory has been exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris, at the top of the main staircase, since 1884. The statue, in white Parian marble, depicts a winged woman, the goddess of Victory (Nikè), alighting on the bow of a warship.
The Nike is dressed in a long tunic (chitôn) in a very fine fabric, with a folded flap and belted under the chest. It was attached to the shoulders by two thin straps (the restoration is not accurate). The lower body is partially covered by a thick mantle rolled up at the waist. flies freely in the back. The mantle is falling, and only the force of the wind holds it on her right leg. The sculptor has multiplied the effects of draperies, between places where the fabric is plated against the body by revealing its shapes, especially on the belly, and those where it accumulates in folds deeply hollowed out casting a strong shadow, as between the legs.
The goddess advances, leaning on her right leg. The goddess is not walking, she was finishing her flight, her large wings still spread out backwards. The arms disappeared, but the right shoulder raised indicates that the right arm was raised to the side. With her elbow bent, the goddess made her hand a victorious gesture of salvation. The whole body is inscribed in a rectangular triangle, a simple but very solid geometric figure: it was necessary to support both the fulfilled shapes of the goddess, the accumulation of draperies, and the energy of movement.
The Roman antiquities Collection
The Roman antiquities on the first floor, which can be accessed by the Daru staircase where the Winged Victory of Samothrace stands, the Etruscan collections (rooms 660, 662, 663), the Greek ceramics exhibited in the Campana Gallery, the terracotta figurines, the bronzes and valuables. The long Galerie Campana displays an outstanding collection of more than one thousand Greek potteries. In the galleries paralleling the Seine, much of the museum’s Roman sculpture is displayed. The Roman portraiture is representative of that genre; examples include the portraits of Agrippa and Annius Verus; among the bronzes is the Greek Apollo of Piombino.
The Roman antiquities belong to the Louvre’s Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities is one of eight departments of the Louvre Museum. It houses one of the largest and most famous collections of ancient art in the world. 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 Bibliothèque nationale.
The department houses more than 80,000 works from Etruscan, Greek and Roman antiquity, making it one of the richest collections in the world. In particular, there are more than 5,000 ancient sculptures and more than 13,000 Greek ceramics. In total, 6,000 works are presented in 50 rooms and 9,400 m2.
At the Louvre, the collections of Greek and Roman antiquities were gradually installed. Louis XIV first placed part of his collection in the Salle des Cariatides in 1692. In 1798, new antiques arrived following the Italian campaigns. The Galerie des Antiques was then created in the former apartments of Anne of Austria. Later, in 1807, Napoleon I purchased the collection of his brother-in-law, Prince Camille Borghese. The Emperor then had the Gallery of Antiquities enlarged by using the adjoining rooms which today house, among other masterpieces, the Venus de Milo.
When the First Empire fell in 1815, many statues were returned to their country of origin. But ancient masterpieces are still exhibited in these ceremonial rooms which are now devoted to Roman collections: first marble or bronze statues and reliefs, then wall paintings from Pompeii. Here you can admire works from the end of the Roman Republic, with the so-called relief of Domitius Ahenobarbus, to the philosopher emperors of the 2nd century, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius.
The Apartments of Anne of Austria
The collections of Roman antiquities located in the first summer apartments of Anne of Austria, the mother of Louis XIV. then Gallery of Antiques by the will of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1800, these rooms have retained their original ceilings. Queen Anne of Austria, mother of Louis XIV, on the death of her husband Louis XIII in 1643, she assumed the regency for a time. She is then housed in the apartment which has been that of queens since Catherine de Medici in the 16th century.
The works of the resplendent were entrusted to the architect Louis Le Vau. He devoted himself to the Palace of Versailles. The decor is the work of painter Giovanni Francesco Romanelli and sculptor Michel Anguier. The two artists are inspired by Italian palaces, such as the Farnese Palace in Rome, or the Pitti Palace in Florence. Ancient gods and goddesses mingle with allegories of the seasons, elements, stars and virtues, and biblical characters to celebrate the queen mother.
After the French Revolution of 1789, the former royal apartments were gradually transformed into a museum. This apartment is ideal for accommodating all the collections of ancient sculptures brought back from Italy. The architect Jean-Arnaud Raymond directed the work of the new “Galerie des Antiques” from 1798 to 1800. He knocked down walls and doors to open the rooms to each other and created porticoes of columns and large arcades to still give more majesty in the long row.
Department of Sculptures
The sculpture department is one of the eight departments of the Louvre Museum. It houses one of the most important collections of sculptures in the world, and the richest collection of French works. The sculpture department houses more than 6,000 works, including the world’s largest collection of French sculpture. In all, more than 2,000 works are presented in 67 rooms spread around two courtyards (8,500 m2 in total).
The Louvre has been a repository of sculpted material since its time as a palace; however, only ancient architecture was displayed until 1824. The sculpture department consists of works created before 1850 not belonging in the Etruscan, Greek, and Roman department. In its early days, the museum exhibited only ancient sculptures, the only exceptions being Michelangelo ‘s two slave statues.The Angoulême gallery opened in 1824, with five rooms devoted to works ranging from the Renaissance to the 18th century. From 1850, medieval sculpture was added, but it was not until 1893 that the Department of Sculptures became autonomous and ceased to be attached to that of Antiquities.
Initially the collection included only 100 pieces, the rest of the royal sculpture collection being at Versailles. It remained small until 1847, when Léon 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 Musée 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. Among the recent modifications, the grouping together of all the statues created for the park of the Château de Marly, in particular the large equestrian statues due to Antoine Coysevox and Guillaume Coustou. French sculpture, spread over numerous rooms around two covered courtyards, is located in the Richelieu wing, while Italian and Spanish sculpture, as well as that of the northern schools, is exhibited in the Denon wing, on the ground floor.
The collection’s overview of French sculpture contains Romanesque works such as the 11th-century Daniel in the Lions’ Den and the 12th-century Virgin of Auvergne. In the 16th century, Renaissance influence caused French sculpture to become more restrained, as seen in Jean Goujon’s bas-reliefs, and Germain Pilon’s Descent from the Cross and Resurrection of Christ. The 17th and 18th centuries are represented by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s 1640 Bust of Cardinal Richelieu, Étienne Maurice Falconet’s Woman Bathing and Amour menaçant, and François Anguier’s obelisks. Neoclassical works includes Antonio Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (1787). The 18th and 19th centuries are represented by the French sculptors like Alfred Barye and Émile Guillemin.
Among the artists exhibited, in addition to the very many anonymous (especially for the Middle Ages), we note, for French sculpture, major works by Jean Goujon, Germain Pilon, Pierre Bontemps, Pierre Puget, Antoine Coysevox, François Girardon, the brothers Coustou, Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, Edmé Bouchardon, Etienne-Maurice Falconet, Augustin Pajou, Jean-Antoine Houdon, François Rude, David d’Angers, James Pradier, Antoine-Louis Barye, for Italian sculpture, also well represented, we note works by Donatello, Desiderio da Settignano, Francesco Laurana, Andrea della Robbia, Michelangelo, Benvenuto Cellini, Giambologna, Le Bernin and Antonio Canova as well as François Duquesnoy for Flanders.
The Marly courtyard
Under the glass roofs of Cours Marly and Puget, it’s where the masterpieces of French sculpture located. The statues brought together in the Louvre were often designed for the outdoors, in particular for the gardens of the palaces of Versailles or the Tuileries. Marly castle was the pleasure residence of King Louis XIV, the castle of Marly and its park have now disappeared, some of its sculptures have been preserved. After a stay in various public spaces in Paris, they are now well sheltered, under the glass roof of the Cour Marly.
The Richelieu wing (north wing which borders the rue de Rivoli) is the most recent in the long history of the construction of the Louvre. It was built under Napoleon III and housed for more than a century, from 1871 to 1989, the Ministry of Finance. After the ministry left for Bercy to the east of Paris, the rooms were assigned to the museum and inaugurated in 1993.
When the architects Ieoh Ming Pei and Michel Macary began work to modernize the Louvre Museum, the two courtyards were still open to the sky. The architects saw it as the ideal location to accommodate the sculptures that adorned gardens or public squares. A system of terraces highlights the works on different levels and provides varied perspectives, while the skylights provide optimal lighting. An ingenious system of aluminum brise-soleil acts as a light, acoustic and thermal regulator.
At the top of the courtyard soar the most emblematic works, the Horses of Marly. Antoine Coysevox, one of Louis XIV’s favorite sculptors, created these two monumental groups to the glory of the Sun King. Pegasus, the winged horse of Greco-Roman mythology, is ridden by the allegory of Fame, which proclaims the king’s military victories, and by Mercury, the Roman god of commerce, who embodies prosperity. Twenty years later, Louis XV in turn settled in Marly and commissioned new works from Guillaume Coustou to replace those that had been removed. The sculptor competes with his predecessor to give even more dynamism to these spirited horses.
The Puget courtyard
The Cour Puget is named after Pierre Puget, one of the great sculptors of the reign of Louis XIV and houses his masterpieces, Perseus and Andromeda and Milo of Crotone, made for the gardens of Versailles. The expressiveness, dynamism and dramatic force of these sculptures are characteristic of Baroque art. The Cour Puget allows you to travel through the centuries and see the evolution of sculpture, from the 17th to the 19th century.
The 17th century sculptures come from largely destroyed royal monuments. They adorned the great royal squares such as Place Vendôme or Place des Victoires in Paris, and proclaimed the glory of the sovereign. The 18th century works come from gardens. At that time, we loved light subjects treated in a delicate and elegant style, like the Marquise de Pompadour, favorite of Louis XV, represented as an allegory of Friendship. Finally, the Cour Puget presents a panorama of outdoor sculpture from the first half of the 19th century, from neoclassical works produced under Napoleon I to romantic statues such as the furious Roland by Duseigneur, in a lyrical and fiery style.
Under the wide vaults of the gallery are preserved masterpieces of Italian sculpture, including the famous Slaves by Michelangelo. For nearly three centuries, sculptors have competed in genius to bring to light the feelings of the human soul. Built between 1854 and 1857, this gallery has above all a practical function: it is the official access to the Salle des Etats where the major legislative sessions were held under the Second Empire. It is also the place of exhibition of the sculptures of the Salon, this great artistic event of the time which presented the work of living artists.
Hector Lefuel is inspired by the work of his predecessor, the architect Pierre Fontaine. The latter worked at the Louvre over the different political regimes, throughout the first half of the 19th century. Its layouts in the Salle des Cariatides and in the Galerie d’Angoulême inspired Lefuel with the wide vaults of the Michelangelo and Daru galleries, as well as the marble paving of the floor in different colours. Here, the light is natural. It comes from the wide open bays on both sides of the gallery. This lighting, which would not be suitable for paintings, particularly highlights the white marble sculptures, but also those in bronze or terracotta.
The Michelangelo gallery today presents a panorama of Italian sculpture from the 16th to the 19th century. It owes its name to the Florentine artist Michelangelo. From a distance, even before entering the gallery, one can see the man known as The Dying Slave, magnified by the play of perspective. Behind him stands a monumental portal, decorated with the figures of Hercules and Perseus, which comes from the Stanga di Castelnuovo palace in Cremona. Its shape recalls the ancient model of the Arc de Triomphe.
Then comes Flying Mercury by Jean Bologna, known as Giambologna, a sculptor born in Flanders who enjoyed success in Florence. We can also see Mercury abducting Psyche from his pupil Adriaen de Vries. Before leaving the gallery, visitors can admire Psyche revived by Cupid’s kiss by Canova. This work is a particularly virtuoso example of marble work. The artist perfectly restores the softness of the flesh and the momentum.
The Hall of Caryatids
The Hall of Caryatids is probably one of the most beautiful architectural testimonies of the Renaissance Louvre. 1528. King François I decides to chooses the Louvre to make it his main residence in Paris. But to give this old defensive castle the splendor and luxury that it was able to admire in Italian palaces. He appointed the architect Pierre Lescot at the head of this colossal site in 1546. The ballroom of the kings of France marks the beginning of this new artistic style in Paris. And since the 17th century, it has housed a prestigious collection of ancient sculptures under its ample vaults.
The four caryatids that support the musicians’ gallery gave it its name. These columns in the shape of female figures are the work of the sculptor Jean Goujon, in 1550. This work is completely in line with the concerns of the Renaissance which is inspired by Antiquity. Here, the artist reinterprets a monument from the 2nd century BC: the forum of Emperor Augustus in Rome. The Caryatids room has had multiple functions and in particular that of a ballroom. It was also the scene of major historical events, such as the funeral ceremony following the assassination of Henri IV in 1610. It was here again that Molière performed for the first time before Louis XIV giving Le Dépit amour, then L’Etourdi and Les Précieuses Ridiculous.
From 1692, sculptures from the collection of Louis XIV began to be exhibited there. It is then called the room of the Antiques. In 1806, Napoleon I had it attached to the Galerie des Antiques, which he had arranged in the adjoining rooms by the architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine (see the Salle de la Vénus de Milo and the Appartements d’Anne d’Ecosse). The latter direct the completion of the decor of the room of the Caryatids: the arches of the vault are sculpted and the fireplace reconstructed around the two allegorical figures of Jean Goujon.
Today, the Hall of the Caryatids houses masterpieces from the Greek sculpture collections, and more particularly representations of the gods, goddesses and heroes of mythology. Some of the works shown here are actually Roman copies in marble from a Greek bronze original. This is particularly the case of the graceful Artemis with a doe, in the center of the room. This marble dates from the 2nd century AD and uses a model created around 330 BC. It is also called the Diana of Versailles because it adorned the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles for a long time.
At the Louvre, the collections of Greek and Roman antiquities were gradually installed. Louis XIV first had part of his collection installed in the Salle des Cariatides in 1692. From 1798, new antiques arrived following the Italian campaigns. The Galerie des Antiques was then created in the former apartments of Anne of Austria. Later, in 1807, Napoleon I purchased the collection of his brother-in-law, Prince Camille Borghese. The Emperor then had the Gallery of Antiquities enlarged by using the adjoining rooms which today house, among other masterpieces, the Venus de Milo.
Department of Decorative arts
The Department of Objets d’art at the Louvre Museum is one of the richest departments in the museum, constantly enlarged by donations and purchases. There are jewels, statuettes and trinkets, but also furniture and tapestries. The objects cover a period from the High Middle Ages to the middle of the 19th century. The collection, one of the most beautiful in the world, includes more than 24,163 works in total, of which 8,500 are exhibited in 96 rooms, some of which are masterpieces in themselves (Galerie d’Apollon, Appartements Napoléon III).
This department was created in 1893, when it was separated from that of Sculptures. 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. Of exceptional value, these objects and furniture come from the royal collections, the old treasures of Saint-Denis and the Order of the Holy Spirit, as well as from the transfer to the Louvre, in 1901, of the former Musée du Mobilier National.
To this have been added, since the beginning, multiple donations and purchases. 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 Révoil. The onset of Romanticism rekindled interest in Renaissance and Medieval artwork, and the Sauvageot donation expanded the department with 1,500 middle-age and faïence works. In 1862, the Campana collection added gold jewelry and maiolicas, mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The collections of the works of art department are on the 1st floor of the museum, in the Richelieu wing, the North and North-West wings of the Cour Carrée, as well as on the 1st floor of the Denon wing (gallery of Apollo). The Richelieu wing previously housed the Ministry of Finance, which moved to Bercy, was converted into exhibition halls and inaugurated on November 18, 1993. The Apollo Gallery in the Richelieu Wing’s first floor, named by the painter Charles Le Brun, who was commissioned by Louis XIV (the Sun King) to decorate the space in a solar theme.
The medieval collection contains the coronation crown of Louis XIV, Charles V’s sceptre, and the 12th century porphyry vase. The Renaissance art holdings include Giambologna’s bronze Nessus and Deianira and the tapestry Maximillian’s Hunt. From later periods, highlights include Madame de Pompadour’s Sèvres vase collection and Napoleon III’s apartments.
January 2000, new rooms devoted to 19th century works of art are opening their doors in the former offices of Napoleon III’s Ministry of Finance, bringing the number of items inventoried in the department to 20,000. In September 2000, the Louvre Museum dedicated the Gilbert Chagoury and Rose-Marie Chagoury Gallery to display tapestries donated by the Chagourys, including a 16th-century six-part tapestry suite, sewn with gold and silver threads representing sea divinities, which was commissioned in Paris for Colbert de Seignelay, Secretary of State for the Navy.
In 2005, the section of the Louvre’s Objets d’Art department devoted to the reign of Louis XIV and the 18th century was closed for renovation, originally for a question of upgrading the electrical system which was to last 2 years. June 6, 2014, after 9 years and a budget of 26 million euros, 33 new rooms containing more than 2000 objects have been reopened, a large part of which have been designed as Period rooms presenting French furniture from the reign of Louis XIV to that of Louis XVI.
The art collection has been reconstituted thanks to contributions from the Tuileries Palace and the Château de Saint-Cloud in the form of furniture and other decorative objects, followed by the Mobilier national of masterpieces of cabinetmaking and the tapestry of royal origin.
There are 4 groups of collections in the department: the collections from the Middle Ages, the collections from the Renaissance and the first half of the 17th century, the collections from the second half of the 17th and 18th centuries and the collections from the 19th century. th century (including the Napoleon III apartments).
The presentation in the rooms of the collections from the second half of the 17th and 18th centuries has been divided into three main chronological and stylistic sequences: 1660-1725: the personal reign of Louis XIV and the Regency (rooms 601 to 606); 1725-1755: the blossoming of the rococo style (rooms 605, 607 to 615); 1755-1790: the return to classicism and the reign of Louis XVI (rooms 616 to 632).
This new presentation of the collections makes it possible to show the woodwork of several salons of private mansions, to reassemble the dome of the Petits-Appartements of the Hôtel du Prince de Condé made by Antoine-François Callet in 1774 and to present furniture by André- Charles Boulle, Martin Carlin, Mathieu Criaerd, Alexandre-Jean Oppenord.
The ceiling in the hall of the Beauvais pavilion (room 605) was painted by Carolus Duran. During the 2006-2014 renovation, a ceiling painted by Giovanni Scajario was installed, the Toilette de Vénus cupola by Antoine-François Callet was reassembled from the Palais-Bourbon, and tapestries by Noël Coypel were affixed. The rooms are decorated with Boulle furniture, which requires intensive maintenance and renovation.
In the time of King Louis XIV, then Louis XV and Louis XVI, the French way of life developed. The royal residences saw their layout change. Since 1682, the Court has been officially installed in Versailles. But the Sun King continues to move between Fontainebleau, Compiègne or Marly. And in each residence, the decor and furnishings must be up to the standards of its prestigious occupants.
This was the time when the great factories were booming: Les Gobelins and Beauvais for tapestry, Sèvres for porcelain, La Savonnerie for rugs, but also the many workshops in Lyon specializing in silk work… Cabinetmakers became famous, such as Cressent, Carlin, Oeben or Riesener. To meet the strong demand, factories and workshops created for the Court precious furniture, large ceremonial services, refined scientific instruments, even small everyday objects.
Immersed in the unique atmosphere that reigned in the great residences of the 18th century, Parisian or provincial, royal or private. Most of the rooms are based on the combination of decorations, furniture and objects from different castles or mansions. Visitors are n able to bring together several elements of the same set, as is the case for the grand salon of the Château d’Abondant, that of the hotel of the financier Marquet de Peyre in Paris or the cabinet Turk of the Comte d’Artois, brother of Louis XVI, at the Palace of Versailles.
It was in the Galerie d’Apollon that Louis XIV for the first time associated his royal power with the divinity of the sun. To achieve this masterpiece of architectural decoration, combining painting, sculpture and gilding, he surrounded himself with the greatest artists who worked, a few years later, at the Palace of Versailles, in the Hall of Mirrors. Today, the Gallery of Apollo houses the royal collection of gems and the Crown diamonds.
On February 6, 1661, the flames ravaged the sumptuous Petite Galerie which dated from the reign of Henri IV. His grandson, Louis XIV, immediately set about rebuilding an even more beautiful gallery, and entrusted the work to the architect Louis Le Vau. Aged 23, the young king has just chosen the sun as his emblem. This will therefore be the theme of the new gallery which bears the name of the Greek god of light and the arts, Apollo. Apollo Gallery is the first example of a royal gallery, the Galerie d’Apollon became the site of aesthetic and architectural experiments. Twenty years later, it will serve as a model for one of the symbols of French classicism: the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.
The First Painter to the King, Charles Le Brun, was responsible for designing the decor and surrounded himself with the best artists to create it. At the Louvre, Charles Le Brun adorns the vault of the gallery with paintings representing the race of Apollo in his chariot across the sky. The journey of the sun god thus marks the different times of the day, from Dawn to Night. Around this central axis, the representations and symbols of all that is influenced by the variations of the light and the beneficial heat of the solar star (the hours, the days, the months, the seasons, but also the signs of the zodiac or the continents) form a cosmic whole. This setting teeming with paintings and sculptures materializes the power of the sun which governs the whole universe. Through Apollo, the gallery exalts the glory of the Sun King.
The gallery is unfinished until two centuries later, in 1850, that the decor was finished, under the direction of Félix Duban. Eugène Delacroix was commissioned to create a 12-meter-wide work to adorn the center of the ceiling, Apollo conquering the serpent Python, a veritable pictorial manifesto of romanticism. The decor is also completed on the walls where tapestries show the portraits of 28 sovereigns and artists who, over the centuries, have built and embellished the palace.
In the Louvre, which then became a museum, the Apollo Gallery presents the sumptuous collection of gems gathered by the kings of France. These works carved in precious minerals (agate, amethyst, lapis lazuli, jade, sardony or rock crystal) and enhanced by usually spectacular settings are objects of great luxury, appreciated since Antiquity. Louis XIV had a real passion for gems: his collection numbered around 800 pieces.
The treasure of the kings of France also consists of the famous diamonds of the Crown. The oldest stone is the so-called Côte-de-Bretagne spinel, which entered the treasury thanks to Queen Anne of Brittany. Three historic diamonds, the Regent, the Sancy and the Hortensia, have adorned the clothes or crowns of sovereigns. Also preserved are spectacular ornaments created in the 19th century, such as those in emeralds and diamonds of the Empress Marie-Louise.
Napoleon III apartments
During the Second Empire, the Louvre was a palace, the atmosphere changes completely. Gilding, velvet, paintings and stucco adorn the lounges and dining rooms to provide a sumptuous setting for all kinds of receptions. Social dinners or masked balls, parties were part of the lifestyle of the high society of the Second Empire. And at the Minister of State, it is not uncommon to see the imperial couple among the guests.
The Emperor Napoleon III reserved part of the brand new Richelieu wing for his minister: the first floor, Cour Napoléon side. The Minister has small apartments where he resides with his family: rooms of modest size, which evoke the interior of a wealthy bourgeois. This unadorned private part is followed by large ceremonial apartments.
The Grand Salon is by far the most spectacular room in the apartments. It is called the theater room, and for good reason: it can be transformed into a theater stage. The Grand Salon was then reorganized to accommodate up to 250 guests. And if the show requires musicians, a small stand is specially set up above the stage to accommodate them.
After the Minister of State under the Second Empire (1852-1870), these apartments were allocated to the Ministry of Finance. It will be so until 1989. It is on this date that the Louvre Palace becomes entirely a museum. Since 1993, these rooms have been open to the public. Admire these decorations preserved almost intact for nearly 150 years.
Department of Paintings
The Department of Paintings currently has around 7,500 paintings (of which 3,400 are on display), covering a period from the Middle Ages to 1848 (date of the start of the Second Republic). Including the deposits, the collection is, with 12,660 works, the largest collection of old paintings in the world. With rare exceptions, works after 1848 were transferred to the Musée d’Orsay when it was created in 1986.
French Painting School
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.
Italian Painting School
The Italian painting collection are notable, particularly the Renaissance collection. The Italian painting collection belong to the Department of Paintings, which is one of the eight departments that make up the Louvre Museum. It is one of the largest and most famous collections in the world. The collections of the department of paintings are specialized in European art from the 13th to the end of the 19th century.
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 Italian painting collection began with Francis, who acquired works from Italian masters such as Raphael and Michelangelo and brought Leonardo da Vinci to his court. The works include Andrea Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini’s Calvarys, which reflect realism and detail “meant to depict the significant events of a greater spiritual world”.
The Italian painting is abundantly represented, with around 1,100 works, 600 of which are on permanent display. Among these are many masterpieces by the greatest painters, including what is probably the most famous painting in the world, The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The Louvre also preserves four other works by the hand of the great Renaissance master, notably his Saint John the Baptist and The Virgin, the Child Jesus and Saint Anne.
The High Renaissance collection includes Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Virgin and Child with St. Anne, St. John the Baptist, and Madonna of the Rocks. The Baroque collection includes Giambattista Pittoni’s The Continence of Scipio, Susanna and the Elders, Bacchus and Ariadne, Mars and Venus, and others Caravaggio is represented by The Fortune Teller and Death of the Virgin. From 16th century Venice, the Louvre displays Titian’s Le Concert Champetre, The Entombment, and The Crowning with Thorns.
The collection of Italian Renaissance painting includes works by Cimabue (Maestà), Lorenzo Monaco (Le Christ au jardin des Oliviers), Giotto di Bondone, Fra Angelico, Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca, Pisanello, Filippo Lippi, Sandro Botticelli (especially the frescoes of Villa Lemmi), Luca Signorelli, Antonello da Messina (especially Le condottiere), Vittore Carpaccio, Giovanni Bellini, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Andrea Mantegna, seven paintings by Pérugin…
Ten by Raphael, including the Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, fourteen of Titian, including The Country Concert, some fifteen paintings by Veronese, including the Wedding of Cana, others by Tintoret (including his Self- Portrait), by Sebastiano del Piombo, Andrea del Sarto, Lorenzo Lotto, The Corrège, Pontormo, Agnolo Bronzino, Parmigianino, Arcimboldo or Federico Barocci.
For the 17th century, there are works by all the major painters, starting with Caravaggio, three of whose paintings are kept in the museum (The Fortune Teller, The Death of the Virgin and the Portrait of Alof de Wignacourt), several Annibale Carracci, as well as Guido Reni, Guercino, Dominiquin, Pierre de Cortona, Salvator Rosa and Luca Giordano.
The Italian 18th century is also well represented in its diversity, with an important place given to the Venetian and Roman schools. The section includes works by painters such as Giambattista Pittoni (Bacchus and Ariadne, The Continence of Scipio, Christ Giving the Keys of Paradise to Saint Peter, Mars and Venus, Polyxena before the Tomb of Achilles, Susanna and the Elders, Tomb allegorical of Archbishop John Tillotson), vedute by Canaletto and Francesco Guardi, paintings byGiambattista Tiepolo et de son fils Giandomenico, Sebastiano Ricci, Francesco Solimena, Giovanni Paolo Pannini.
Salle des Etats
Built between 1855 and 1857 by the architect Hector Lefuel, the Salle des Etats housed the major legislative sessions during the Second Empire. This is where its name comes from. The decor desired by Napoleon III is imposing and sumptuous, with its painted vaults which proclaim the glory of the Empire. After the fall of the Emperor, the room was transferred to the Louvre Museum to house 19th century French painting. At the start of the Third Republic, the architect Edmond Guillaume transformed the room to adapt it to this new function: the windows were closed off to leave more room for the paintings, and a glass roof was pierced in the ceiling to provide overhead lighting which limited the reflections. After the Second World War, the paintings of French painters were replaced on the walls by Venetian paintings.
Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese… The greatest Venetian painters compete with each other through their dazzling works. Veronese ‘s monumental Marriage at Cana occupies the entire wall facing the Mona Lisa. Other famous paintings surround it: The Country Concert by Titian and his Man with a Glove, the fiery sketch made by Tintoretto for The Coronation of the Virgin also called Paradise, a project for a huge decor in the Grand Council room at the Doge’s Palace, sublime portraits, such as Une patricienne de Venise, known as La Belle Nani by Veronese… and so many others. Colors and lights testify to the virtuosity of Venetian artists of the Renaissance.
It is in the Salle des Etats that the most famous painting in the world is exhibited: The Mona Lisa. This vast room, the largest in the museum, can accommodate many visitors. Since 2005, the Mona Lisa sits alone in the center of the room, behind a window that protects her. This exceptional presentation meets security requirements, but also conservation needs. The famous enigmatic smile of Monna Lisa has not ceased to seduce for centuries. One of his first admirers was King Francis I. The latter, who invited Leonardo da Vinci to France, bought the painting from him in 1518. This is how the work entered the royal collections which have been on display at the Louvre since the Revolution.
It is the most famous portrait in the world, that of Monna Lisa, the wife of the Florentine fabric merchant, Francesco del Giocondo, nicknamed the Frenchified “Gioconda” La Joconde. Painted in front of a distant landscape, the Mona Lisa looks at us, her legendary smile on her lips. But in addition to its expression, it is the technique of sfumato that gives it this particular presence: Leonardo da Vinci superimposed thin layers of paint to create shapes while attenuating contours and contrasts. The artist captures the moment when Monna Lisa turns towards the viewer. It is this movement so natural that gives an impression of life to the painting.
This is also where other well-known works of the Venetian school are presented, such as The Wedding at Cana by Veronese. This work was produced by Veronese for the refectory of the monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, from where it was taken by the troops of General Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798. When the Empire fell in 1815, most of the paintings seized returned to Italy, but it was feared that the return trip would damage it: it was therefore exchanged for a painting by Le Brun, The Magdalen and the Pharisee. Despite everything, the adventures of the Wedding at Cana do not stop there, since the canvas will be evacuated twice to be sheltered from the wars that affect Paris, in 1870 and then in 1939.
La Grande Galerie
La Grande Galerie is one of the most emblematic places of the Louvre since the transformation of the palace into a museum. Visitors can now discover the museum’s very rich collection of Italian paintings, one of the most important in the world. Dozens and dozens of paintings that follow one another as far as the eye can see along a gallery with majestic architecture… Today, on the walls of the Grande Galerie, there are masterpieces by the greatest masters of Italian painting: Mantegna, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Arcimboldo, Caravaggio… and many others.
In order to provide optimal conditions for coming to admire this extraordinary collection, the choice was made to install zenithal lighting, that is to say from skylights on the ceiling which diffuse natural light. Napoleon III’s architect, Hector Lefuel, pierces the vault to create windows. The light, equal and natural, thus avoids reflections on the paintings.
Northern Schools (Flanders, Netherlands, Germany)
The Louvre Museum also has one of the largest collections of paintings in northern Europe with 1130 paintings (Flanders, Netherlands and Germany). The Flemish and Dutch schools are the best represented. For the Flemish primitives, we note foreground works such as The Virgin of Chancellor Rolin by Jan van Eyck, the Triptych of the Braque family by Rogier van der Weyden, the Nave of Fools by Jérôme Bosch, The Wedding at Cana by Gérard David and The Moneylender and his Wife by Quentin Metsys. Also preserved are works by Dirk Bouts, several Hans Memling, Joos van Cleve, Joachim Patinier, Bernard van Orley, Jan Gossaert dit Mabuse, Lucas de Leyde and Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
The Dutch and Flemish golden age (17th century) is illustrated with fifteen paintings by Rembrandt, including Bathsheba in the bath holding the letter from David and The Pilgrims at Emmaus, several Frans Hals, nineteen by Van Dyck, fifty-one by Rubens, including the twenty-one paintings from the Cycle of Marie de Medici, as well as two canvases by Vermeer, The Lacemaker and The Astronomer. Landscapes teeming with figures by Jan Brueghel the Elder, intimate interior scenes by Pieter de Hooch and Gerard ter Borch, paintings of church interiors by Pieter Saenredam, genre scenes by Jan Steen and David Teniers le Jeune as well as the landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael are also depicted.
For German painting, we find works from the 15th century such as the Pietà of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, paintings by Albrecht Dürer, by Lucas Cranach the Elder or even several portraits of Hans Holbein the Younger, as well as, for the 19th century, paintings by the romantic Caspar David Friedrich. Finally, a room exhibits Austrian Baroque paintings from the 18th century. century while another exhibits Scandinavian paintings from the first half of the 19th century, in particular landscapes treated in the romantic vein.
The Spanish collection (around one hundred and thirty paintings including around sixty on display), smaller than the previous ones, nevertheless presents an interesting selection of works with certain rare names. But above all, there are all the great artists of the Golden Age such as El Greco, Velasquez, Murillo, Ribera and Zurbarán. Also, the Louvre has several paintings by Goya.
The British and American Paintings Collection (about one hundred and twenty paintings), is made up of significant works by 18th and 19th century masters such as William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Lawrence, John Constable, Richard Parkes Bonington, JMW Turner and Gilbert Stuart.
Paintings from the Scandinavian (about 50 works), Russian (about 35 works), Austrian, Belgian, Swiss, Greek, Polish and Portuguese schools are present despite a reduced collection.
Department of Graphic Arts
The Department of Graphic Arts now boasts more than 225,000 pieces. It preserves drawings, pastels, miniatures, prints, books, manuscripts, autographs, as well as woodcuts, copperplates and lithographic stones. It brings together three different funds:
the Cabinet of Drawings, originally constituted by the former collection of the kings of France, constantly enlarged thereafter thanks to seizures and donations; the Edmond de Rothschild collection, donated to the Louvre in 1936, with around 40,000 prints, 3,000 drawings and 500 illustrated books; the Chalcography, which retains some 14,000 engraved copperplates, in particular the copperplates from the King’s Engraved Plates Cabinet. Paper prints obtained with the original copper can be ordered for nearly 600 plates.
Given the number of pieces and the fragility of the paper to light, it is impossible to permanently expose all the documents. These can be seen either in temporary exhibitions (which never last more than three months so as not to weaken the works), or in the department’s consultation room. Nevertheless, a selection of pastels and tapestry cartoons, less fragile, is exhibited within the path of the painting department. In recent years, a major digitization effort has been made and the department’s database currently contains more than 140,000 work files and 4,500 artist files.
The Tuileries Garden is a public garden located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. It is the most important and the oldest French-style garden in the capital, which was once that of the Tuileries Palace, a former royal and imperial residence, which has now disappeared. The Tuileries Garden has been classified as a historical monument since 1914, within a site registered and included in the UNESCO World Heritage protection concerning the banks of the Seine. The garden is now part of the national domain of the Louvre and the Tuileries.
Created by Catherine de’ Medici as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was eventually opened to the public in 1667 and became a public park after the French Revolution. The area of the garden is 25.5 hectares, very comparable to that of the Luxembourg Gardens. It is bounded by the Louvre Palace to the southeast, the rue de Rivoli to the northeast, the Place de la Concorde to the northwest and the Seine to the southwest. In the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, it was a place where Parisians celebrated, met, strolled and relaxed. It hosts several events such as the Rendez-vous aux jardins and the International Contemporary Art Fair.
In the center of Paris, this garden has been breathing space in the heart of the capital for almost five centuries. In 1564 when Queen Catherine de Medici, widow of King Henry II, nostalgic for the Florentine palaces of her childhood, had a country residence built with a garden. The land chosen is located outside the walls of Paris, where tile makers have been established since the Middle Ages. Hence the name “Tuileries”.
From 1664, the garden was completely redesigned by André Le Nôtre, gardener to King Louis XIV. The garden is then open to a selected public. Several times modified and partially privatized, notably by Napoleon I and then by his nephew Napoleon III, it has been entirely open to all visitors since 1871. The garden was the playground of kings and princes. The young King Louis XIII hunted quails and crows there. L’Aiglon, the son of Napoleon I, played in its alleys…
In 1871, during the Paris Commune, the Tuileries Palace, symbol of royal and imperial power, was set on fire by rioters, only the garden remains. In 1990, a competition was launched for its renovation. The landscapers Pascal Cribier and Louis Benech are chosen and bring him contemporary innovations.
Since 2005, the Louvre Museum has been responsible for the management and enhancement of the Tuileries Garden. Each year, the gardeners imagine new flowers, in the spring and then in the summer, depending on the cultural program of the museum. Thus, the parterres are always in the colors of the exhibitions or major events of the moment. The Tuileries are adorned with the colors of the Louvre. Each year, the art gardeners of the Domaine national du Louvre and the Tuileries compete in creativity by drawing inspiration from the highlights of the life of the museum.
Since 2014, the Louvre has had a specifically dedicated sub-directorate for gardens. It carries out research projects on the history of the gardens of the Domaine national du Louvre and the Tuileries, its crafts and its collection of outdoor sculptures. Research and work reinforce the history of gardens as a discipline that is now fully part of the establishment’s orientations.
The gardens of the Domaine national du Louvre and the Tuileries are a veritable open-air sculpture museum. The first statues that are still in place arrived during the Regency from 1716, coming from Versailles and Marly, and some date from the end of the 17th century. Since then, in successive waves, sculpture has continued to invest the Tuileries and the Carrousel, as well as the gardens located to the east (Oratory, Raffet and Infante). Apart from the vases in the garden, the rest of the furniture, seats, lampposts, panels, etc., clearly has a heritage character.