Paris has contributed so much to the preservation and propagation of artworks to the people. Its many museums and cultural centers have upheld the importance of art even in these changing times. As a result, Paris has remained the torchbearer of art and culture in Europe and the rest of the world.
One of the places known as the centerpiece of art and history is the Louvre Museum. Known as the largest and most important museum in the world, the Louvre in a way has come to represent the very essence of Paris. A place of rich historical significance, the Louvre holds an impressive collection of over one million works of art sourced from around the world. Its sheer size and wealth of collections have made it renowned across the world. This popularity makes it one of the most visited museums in the world.
Visiting the Louvre is, in fact, a splendid experience, as it is like taking a step back in time into early history. Besides, the building itself holds a rich historical significance that dates back to the medieval periods.
The building that houses the Louvre museum was originally a fortress built by the King Philip II in the 12th Century. The rule of Charles V brought about major changes as the fortress underwent further expansions. In the fifteenth century, the original fortress was demolished and a new wing was built along the Seine River. Further expansions took place guided by the architect Pierre Lescot that led to the expansion of the palace into a complex with the addition of two courtyards.
Subsequently, Catherine de Medici, the Queen of France, added the Tuileries Palace to the west of the Louvre. Later, King Louis XIV’s decision to shift to the Palace of Versailles led to a delay in further construction of the building. It was during the sixteenth century that the Louvre got its first collections, which were the private collections of King Francis I.
Major expansions took place during the nineteenth century during the times of the Second and Third Empire with the addition of the Richelieu wing. It was during the French Revolution that the Louvre museum was first opened in 1793. Initially, it had a collection of only 537 paintings, which was further increased with later additions.
Exploring the Collections
The Louvre museum holds an incredible collection of more than one million artworks. Out of this, about 35,000 of the artworks are on permanent display for the visitors. The collections of Louvre extend from the ancient times to the nineteenth century. These artworks are arranged in three major wings of the Louvre, which are Sully, Richelieu, and Denon. Each of these wings holds a different collection of artworks making it easier for visitors relying on a Louvre guided tour to view them in an orderly manner.
The oldest wing of the Louvre, the Sully Wing consists of numerous collections of French paintings, drawings, and prints. Located on the ground and first floors of the Sully Wing is the valuable collection of antiquities such as those from Ancient Egypt. Arranged in about thirty rooms, it contains some of the most notable antiquities from Ancient Egypt such as the statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II and the Seated Scribe. One of the highlights of the Louvre, the statue of Aphrodite or the Venus of Milo is displayed on the ground floor of the Sully Wing.
The Richelieu Wing consists of many notable collections of artworks in the Louvre. On the ground floor are extensive collections of sculptures such as the famous Babylonian law code, the Code of Hammurabi, the Horses of Marly, Guillaume Coustou’s eighteenth-century marble sculptures and the Tomb of Philippe Pot. The first floor mainly features an excellent collection of decorative arts and objects such as furniture, tapestries, china, and clocks.
The notable paintings from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century are all located on the second floor of the Richelieu Wing. This consists of several works of renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, etc., and the major paintings of Vermeer like the Lacemaker.
The Denon Wing contains one of the most popular paintings in the world, Leonardo Da Vinci’s celebrated portrait, the Mona Lisa. As a result, this wing is the most crowded in the entire Louvre. Some of the prominent artworks such as the Consecration of Emperor Napoleon I, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Wedding Feast at Cana are displayed in this wing.
The ground floor consists of an impressive collection of Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Other notable attractions displayed in this wing are Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss by Antonia Canova and Michelangelo’s Dying Slave. Besides, there are numerous artifacts displayed here from Asia, Africa, Americas, and Oceania.
Entering the Louvre
The Louvre Museum is located in Paris’s first arrondissement along the right bank of the Seine. Entrance fee to the museum is €15 for adults; however, it is free for young people and children. Visitors can enter the Louvre free of charge on the first Sunday of each month from October to March and on July 14. The museum will remain open from 09:00 am to 05:45 pm on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the Louvre will remain open from 09:00 am to 09:45 pm.