The long and complex history of the Louvre extends over eight centuries of planning, building, destruction and reconstruction. Successive kings of France, from François I to Louis XIV, enlarged the medieval fortified castle into a sumptuous palace, until the establishment of absolutist rule led to the sudden transfer of the court to Versailles.
Official site: www.louvre.fr
Address: 36 quai de Louvre, F-75001 Paris, France
Opening hours: 9am-6pm; Mon: 9am-9:45pm; Wed: 9am-9:45pm; Closed: Tue
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Remembrance Day / 1918 Armistice Day (Nov 11), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €11.50, Child 18 & under €8.50
Useful tips: The Louvre is free the first Sunday of every month, although it is very crowded on that day. The pyramid is open later then the museum.
Guides: Audio-visual presentations available. Guided tour available as optional extra.
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service
Transit: Metro: Louvre, Palais-Royal-Musee du Louvre; Buses: 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 67, 68, 69, 72, 75, 76, 81, 85, 95.
The main entrance of the Louvre, in the center of the Cour Napoléon, is the glass pyramid (22m/72ft high; 675 panes of glass) designed by the Chinese American architect Ieoh Ming Pei (b. 1917) and opened in 1989. This gives access to the underground Hall Napoléon, in which are information desks, the ticket office, the bookshop, cafe and restaurant, auditoria, the Print Cabinet and rooms for special exhibitions. From here corridors and escalators take visitors to the various departments in the three main wings.
On the lower floor (basement level) of the Louvre's Richelieu Wing, opened in November 1993, are contemporary exhibitions, French sculpture and Islamic art; on the ground floor, round two covered inner courtyards, the Cour Marly and the Cour Puget, are French sculpture and Oriental antiquities; on the first floor is applied and decorative art and on the second floor German, Flemish and Dutch painting.
On the lower floor of the Sully Wing (the east wing round the Cour Carrée) are the new department on the history of the Louvre and the excavations of the medieval crypt; on the ground floor are Oriental and Egyptian antiquities, Coptic art, Greek, Etruscan and Roman work, including the famous Venus de Milo; on the first floor are applied and decorative art, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities (Victory of Samothrace) and 18th century French painting; and on the second floor are the 17th and 18th century French schools and graphic art.
On the lower floor of the Denon Wing of the Louvre (south side of the Cour Napoléon) are Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities, the art of late antiquity and Italian, German and Dutch sculpture; the ground floor also displays Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities, together with Italian, German, Flemish and Dutch sculpture; the Galerie d'Apollon (treasures from the royal collections), French painting from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, Italian painting from the 11th to the 18th century (including Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa"), German, Flemish and Dutch painting of the 15th-17th centuries, the northern schools of the 18th and 19th centuries, Spanish and British art, and drawings of the 15th to 19th centuries.
The first royal collector was François I, who brought together in his palace of Fontainebleau paintings, sculpture and reproductions in the Italian style, including the enigmatically smiling "Mona Lisa". Another king interested in art was Louis XIV, who acquired the collections of Cardinal Mazarin and a celebrated financier and art-lover, Jabach, which included Titian's "Entombment". In 1683 the royal collection contained over 2,000 pictures. On August 10, 1792 the Royal Museum was established, and from 1794 onwards this was enriched by thousands of works of art brought back as booty by the French armies. Deprived after the fall of the Empire of all these stolen treasures with the exception of a few works such as Veronese's "Marriage in Cana", the Louvre continued to make fresh acquisitions. In the course of the 19th century the departments of Egyptian and Oriental antiquities were established, and later successive architects tried to bring order into the museum's maze of rooms. Since then the seven departments of the museum have grown steadily through new acquisitions and gifts from over 2,700 donors.The Museum now possesses over 30,000 works of art. It is possible, therefore, to give only a general account of the scope and variety of the collections and a selection of the most famous works on view.
Antiquity Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities
Each of these three sections is displayed separately in the Louvre. The history of ancient art from the beginnings of Greek art to the last days of the Roman Empire is illustrated by a magnificent collection of marble and bronze sculpture, frescoes, mosaics, gold, ivory and glass. Among particular treasures are the Etruscan sarcophagus from Cerveteri (sixth century B.C.); fragments of Phidias's Parthenon frieze (447-438 B.C.); metopes from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (fifth C. B.C.), presented by Greece in gratitude for French support during its war of independence (1829); the famous Venus de Milo; the Doric "Lady of Auxerre" (c. 630 B.C.), one of the oldest examples of Greek statuary; the Ionic "Hera of Samos" (c. 560 B.C.), whose cylindrical form points to Mesopotamian influences; the beautiful "Rampin Head" (c. 550 B.C.), from an equestrian figure whose torso is in the Acropolis Museum in Athens; the "Apollo Sauroktonos" and "Cnidian Aphrodite", fourth century copies of originals by Praxiteles; the "Victory of Samothrace" (Hellenistic, late third or early second century B.C.); the "Borghese Wrestler" (first century B.C.); the bust of Agrippa (first century A.D.), son-in-law and counsellor of the Emperor Augustus; the head of a young prince of the Antonine dynasty (second century A.D.); the altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus (first century. B.C.) from the Temple of Neptune in Rome; the "Birth of the Tiber" (first century B.C.); fragments of the Ara Pacis, Augustus's Temple of Peace in Rome; antique bronzes, including the "Apollo of Piombino" (c. 500 B.C.), and everyday objects, such as an Etruscan mirror with incised ornament (third c. B.C.); a collection of Roman sarcophagi of the second and third centuries A.D.; Greek and Roman frescoes and mosaics, including the "Judgment of Paris" (a mosaic from Antioch, second century A.D.); and Greek vases from the Geometric (ninth-eighth centuy B.C.) to the Hellenistic period (second century B.C.)
Venus de Milo
The Venus de Milo is world famous and one of the best-known of Greek statues.The Venus de Milo from the collection of the Marquis de Rivière, a statue of the second century B.C. based on a fourth century original was found off the island of Melos in 1820, one of the most perfect representations of the Greek ideal of beauty.
Winged Victory of Samothrace
The "Victory of Samothrace" (Hellenistic, late third or early second century B.C.) is a masterpiece of Hellenistic art.The sculpture commemorates a naval victory at Rhodes over Antiochus III of Syria in the second century B.C.
Napoleon's Egyptian campaigns aroused interest in antiquity and the East. Further material came from excavations, sometimes carried out by the Louvre itself, new acquisitions and gifts, and from the collections of the National Library transferred to the Louvre. Among the most important works in the department covering ancient Mesopotamia, Sumer and Akkad are the Stele of Naram-Sin, king of Akkad c. 2270 B.C., commemorating his victory over the barbarians in the Zagros Mountains; various statues of Gudea, the Sumerian ruler of Lagash in the third millennium B.C.; and decorative elements from the palaces of Nimrud, Nineveh and especially Khorsabad, the residence of king Sargon II (721-705 B.C.), including 4m/13ft high winged animals which give some idea of the scale of the palace. The principal treasure of this department, however, is the Stele of Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.), king of the first Babylonian kingdom, a conical basalt cylinder 2.25m/7ft5in. high inscribed with Hammurabi's code of laws written in Akkadian in cuneiform script.
The Egyptian department of the Louvre, founded in 1826 by Jean-François Champollion, who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphics, covers the art and culture of Egypt from the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms down to the Christian era. Notable items in the extensive collections are King Wadji's majestic stele, the Stele of the Snake Goddess Zet, of the Thinite period (c. 3100 B.C.); the Stele of Antef, a high official in the reign of Tuthmosis III (c. 1490-1439 B.C.); an ivory-handled dagger of the early dynastic period (c. 3300 B.C.) from Djebel el-Arak; a triangular harp of the Saite period (seventh-sixth century B.C.); the head of King Didufri, successor to Cheops in the Old Kingdom (c. 2250 B.C.); the "Squatting Scribe", a painted sandstone figure found in a fifth Dynasty tomb at Saqqara (c. 2500 B.C.); the fine wooden figures of an official of Memphis and his wife (c. 2350 B.C.); a sandstone statue of the High Prophet Amenemhatankh (c. 1850 B.C.); a bust of King Amenophis IV/Akhenaton (c. 1365-1349 B.C.); the sarcophagus of Chancellor Imeneminet (eighth century B.C.); and Coptic reliefs in stone and wood, tapestries and bronze liturgical utensils of the fifth-seventh centuries.
The Musée des Monuments Français, which was closed down under the Restoration, provided the nucleus of the Louvre's collection of sculpture, which has since been steadily expanded. Among the numerous works of the 12th to 19th centuries the most notable are a representation of Daniel in the lions' den on a Romanesque capital from the old Paris church of Sainte-Geneviève; the 12th century "Auvergne Madonna"; the masterly Gothic figure of the "Queen of Sheba" (C. 1180); the Norman "Madonna of Maisoncelles" (14th C.); the figure of King Charles V (c. 1390); the tomb of Philippe Pot, Grand Seneschal of Burgundy (d. 1493); the Gothic St George's Altar by Michel Colombe (early 16th C.); a bas-relief by Jean Goujon from the Fontaine des Innocents (1547-49); Germain Pilon's group of the Three Graces, bearing an urn with the heart of Henri II (c. 1560); a bronze figure of Anne of Austria (Louis XIII's wife) by Simon Guillan (1642); Puget's "Milo of Crotone" (1862) from the park of the Château de Versailles; the "Marly Horses" by Guillaume Coustou (1739-45); Houdon's graceful "Diana the Huntress" (1790); Canova's neo-classical "Cupid and Psyche" (1793); Pigalle's "Mercury attaching his wings to his heels" (1744); vigorous animal studies by Bayre and Rude's "Neapolitan Fisherman" (1833); James Pradier's "Satyr and Bacchante" (1834); and Michelangelo's magnificent "Dying Slave" and "Rebel Slave" (1513-15).
Michelangelo's magnificent "Dying Slave" and "Rebel Slave" (1513-15) were originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II as a secular counterpart to the "Apotheosis" of the Holy Father.
The principal works of the late Middle Ages in the Louvre are the "Pietà of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon" (15th century), a work of tragic nobility, probably by Enguerrand Quarton; the portrait of King Jean le Bon by an unknown artist (c. 1360), the earliest known French panel painting; and Jean Fouquet's portrait of Charles VII (c. 1445). Characteristic of the 16th century Fontainebleau school are the masterly portraits of court dignitaries by the Clouet family. Antoine Caron's "Massacre of the Triumvirs" (1566) alludes allegorically to the horrors of the religious wars. In the early 17th century new artistic impulses came from Italy. During this period Georges de La Tour painted his candle-lit scenes - "Magdalene with Night-Light", "St Thomas", "St Joseph in the Carpenter's Shop", c. 1630-40; Louis Le Nain produced his realistic genre studies ("Peasant Family", c. 1643); the great age of classicism began with the mythological and lyrical pictures of Nicolas Poussin ("The Inspiration of Poets", c. 1630) and Claude Gellée, called Le Nain ("Cleopatra's Arrival in Tarsus", 1642-43); and historical painting enjoyed a heyday, with Charles Le Brun's vivid portraits ("Chancellor Séguin at Louis XIV's Entry into Paris", c. 1655) and the ceremonial portraits of Hyacinthe Rigaud ("Louis XIV", 1701).In the 18th century fresh possibilities were opened up by Antoine Watteau, a colorist who found inspiration in the Italian commedia dell'arte ("Pierrot", 1718). Scenes of a more relaxed morality, sometimes degenerating into libertinage, were depicted by Boucher ("Diana resting after her bath", c. 1750) and Fragonard ("Women Bathing", c. 1770). Louis David's "Oath of the Horatii" (1784) was the manifesto of neo- classicism; his masterpiece, however, was his "Coronation of Napoleon in Notre-Dame" (1805- 07). Among the leading representatives of Romanticism was Géricault, with the dramatic "Raft of the 'Méduse" (1819). Eugène Delacroix' "Liberty Leading the People" (1831); his oil painting "Dante and Virgil" caused something of a scandal; but his portrait of Chopin (1838) was more romantic in effect. Camille Corot, with his poetic freshness and preference for an unconventional play of light ("Souvenir de Mortefontaine", 1864), can be seen as a forerunner of the Impressionists. Other landscape painters such as Théodore Rousseau in his "Edge of the Forest, Fontainebleau" also use a varying intensity of light. Jean-Dominique Ingres' "Bathers, Valpinçon" (1808) and "Turkish Bath" (1862) reflect his admiration of the harmonious compositions of the Venetian and Florentine masters.
Liberty Leading the People
Eugène Delacroix' "Liberty Leading the People" (1831) represents a revolution of passionate feeling, color and movement.The painting depicts the violence of the Revolution of 1830 and demonstrates Delacroix' feeling for the oppressed.
The Raft of the Medusa
Among the leading representatives of Romanticism was Géricault, with the dramatic "Raft of the 'Méduse" (1819).The painting depicts the sighting of a rescue ship by twelve survivors of the shipwreck of the frigate Medusa which had a crew of one hundred and fifty.
Coronation of Napoleon in Notre-Dame
Louis David's masterpiece is his "Coronation of Napoleon in Notre-Dame" (1805-07).The portrait shows Napoleon crowning Josephine.
La Grande Odalisque
Jean Dominique Ingers' style is evident in the Odalisque. The figure in the painting may represent a concubine, Venus or a number of other things.
Portrait of Madame Récamier
The Portrait of Madame Récamier by David shows Bonaparte's opponent who in the opinion of many is the very definition of femininity and beauty.
The second largest body of painting in the Louvre is formed by Italian work from the second half of the 13th century to the end of the 18th. The early period of the Florentine school is represented by Cimabue's "Madonna with Angels" (c. 1270) from the church of San Francesco in Pisa. Giotto's "St Francis Preaching to the Birds" (c. 1300), from the predella of the altar of San Francesco in Assisi, already shows a concern with three-dimensionality. The beginning of the Renaissance in the Quattrocento is marked by Fra Angelico's "Coronation of the Virgin" (1434-35) from the church of San Domenico in Fiesole, with its use of perspective and freedom from Byzantine rigidity, and his "Martyrdom of St Cosmas and St Damian" (1440). Andrea Mantegna achieves a geometric depth ("Calvary", 1459), while delicate curving lines and translucent colors characterize the transfigured faces in the allegorical frescoes (c. 1483) of Sandro Botticelli. The heyday of the Italian Renaissance, from the end of the 15th century to the first half of the 16th, is represented by the Louvre's fine collection of the work of Leonardo da Vinci, including the "Annunciation" (1475), "Virgin and Child with St Anne" (c. 1506) and the smiling "Mona Lisa" or "La Gioconda" (in French La Joconde) of 1503-05.Other 16th century treasures are Raphael's "Holy Family" (better known as "La Belle Jardinière"), painted in Florence in 1507, and his "Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione" (1516), Titian's tender and melancholy "Entombment" (C. 1525) and Paolo Veronese's huge "Wedding Feast at Cana" (1563). Caravaggio's "Death of the Virgin" (C. 1605) caused a scandal because of his realistic depiction of the scene, while Guido Reni's elegant and theatrical "Rape of Helen" (1631) was one of the most admired paintings of its day. Outstanding 18th century works are Francesco Guardi's series of paintings (C. 1770) depicting the festivities on the occasion of the enthronement of Doge Alvise Mocenigo IV in Venice.
The "Mona Lisa" or "La Gioconda" (in French La Joconde) painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1503-05 is unquestionably the most famous painting in the world.The sitter, famed for her enigmatic smile, is believed to have been Monna Lisa Gherardini, wife of the Florentine patrician Francesco di Zanobi del Giocondo. The fine modelling of the face in the changing play of light cannot unfortunately be fully appreciated because of the protective screen of bullet-proof glass.
German, Flemish and Dutch schools
The masterpieces of German, Flemish and Dutch painting in the Louvre range from Late Gothic by way of the Renaissance to the 17th century. Among the principal Flemish works are Jan van Eyck's "Madonna of Autun" (C. 1435)), Hans Memling's "Portrait of an Old Woman" (C. 1470), Quentin Metsys' genre scene "The Moneylender and his Wife" (1514) and Peter Breughel the Elder's "Beggars" 1568), which alludes to the revolt of the Geusen ("Beggars") against Philip II of Spain. Peter Paul Rubens in the unfinished study "Hélène Fourment and two of her Children" (C. 1636) gives expression to his tender feelings for his young family. Other important Flemish works are van Dyck's imposing portrait of Charles II (C. 1635) and Jacob Jordaens's "Four Apostles", from his early period (1617-31).Among the Dutch painters all the great names are represented - Hieronymus Bosch with his almost surrealist "Ship of Fools" (C. 1490), Frans Hals with his bold character study of "The Gipsy Girl" (1628-30), Jan Vermeer van Delft with his poetic "Lacemaker" (1664) and his "Astronomer" (1668), Jakob van Ruisdael with "The Sunbeam" (C. 1670) and above all Rembrandt with his self- portraits, the moving "Disciples at Emmaus" (1648), the gripping portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels, companion of his last years, and the nude "Bathsheba Bathing", holding in her hand David's letter declaring his love (1654).Although the collection of German paintings is smaller it contains some notable works, among them the elegant self-portrait of the 22 year old Albrecht Dürer (1493), Lucas Cranach the Elder's "Venus" (1529) and Hans Holbein the Younger's "Anne of Cleves" (1539) and "Erasmus of Rotterdam", painted in Basle in 1523.
Paintings of Maria de Medici
Peter Paul Rubens, who had an enduring influence on the 17th century Flemish school, has a room to himself for the hagiographical cycle of 21 paintings commissioned by Marie de Médicis for the Palais du Luxembourg (1622-25).The paintings mix allegory and reality and are examples of the best in decorative painting.
British art of the 18th and 19th centuries is represented in the Louvre by portraits by Gainsborough ("Conversation in the Park") and his rival Reynolds ("Master Hare", 1788-89), Raeburn, Lawrence, Constable ("Weymouth Bay", 1824), Turner ("Landscape", C. 1830) and Burne-Jones ("The King's Daughter", 1865-66).
Among the masterpieces of Spanish art of the 14th to 18th centuries in the Louvre are El Greco's "Christ on the Cross, with Two Donors" (C. 1585), José Ribera's "Man with a Club Foot" (1642), Francisco de Zurbarán's "Burial of St Bonaventure" (C. 1630), Murillo's "Young Beggar" (1650), with a typically Sevillian use of color, a portrait (C. 1654) of the Infanta Margarita, Philip IV's daughter, which is attributed to Velázquez and a marvelous series of portraits by Goya, including "Don Evariste Perez de Castro" (1805), the doctor and member of parliament "Fernando Guillemardet" (1798) and the proud Marquesa de la Solana (C. 1810).
Applied and Decorative Art
The department of applied and decorative art in the Louvre possesses many treasures from the monastery of Saint-Denis, confiscated in 1793, the royal furniture stores and rich private collections. Among the finest items are medieval stained glass, liturgical utensils and bronzes, including an equestrian statue of Charlemagne (ninth century), Byzantine ivories (Hrabaville Triptych, mid 10th century), a fifth century diptych, the Suger Eagle (porphyry vase with gold ornament, 12th century), pottery and majolica of the school of Palissy, figures of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis (c. 1610), the crown jewels.
Galerie d'Apollon - Crown Jewels
The crown jewels (in the Galerie d'Apollon), with the crown made for the Empress Eugénie by Gabriel Lemonnier (1855), the crown used at Louis XV's coronation and the Regent's Diamond, silver by Thomas Germain, a cabinet by Molitor, goldsmith's work by Froment-Meurice, a Chinese tea service which belonged to Queen Marie-Amélie, superb tapestries, including "Maximilian Hunting" (Brussels, c. 1530; illustration, p. 110), and furniture and bronzes of the 17th and 18th centuries from the royal palaces of Saint-Cloud and the Tuileries.
The 137 carat Regent's Diamond was found in India in 1698 and acquired by Philippe d'Orléans in 1717.The Regent diamond is one of the most famous precious stones in the world and is of exceptionally high quality.
The Louvre possesses over 120,000 drawings, including work by the court painters Le Brun, Pierre Mignard and Antoine Coypel, 4,500 engravings by Rembrandt and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci ("Isabella d'Este", C. 1490), Pisanello, Jacopo Bellini, Veronese, Raphael, Füssli (Fuseli), Goya, Dürer, Corot, Delacroix and the Impressionists.
The Islamic art collection on the Entresol level of the Louvre houses exhibits from Spain, Egypt, Iran, Syria and India. The exhibits are excellent.
The buildings round the Cour Carrée square in Paris belong to the Old Louvre (Vieux Louvre), the Palais du Louvre proper, now known as the Sully wing. It occupies the site of Philippe Auguste's original stronghold. The Lescot facade was begun in the reign of Henri II, the other wings in the time of Louis XIII and XIV, but they were completed only by Napoleon. The Pavillon de l'Horloge (Clock Pavilion), better known as the Pavillon Sully, is designed to match the style of the Lescot facade; it was built in the 17th century by Jacques Lemercier, who also added the northern part of the west wing in a quasi-Renaissance style.
Philippe Auguste's Fortress
Before construction work on the Louvre began archaeologists carried out excavations in the Cour Carrée and Cour Napoléon and brought to light the remains of Philippe Auguste's fortress of ca. 1200, with its keep, and Charles V's 14th century palace.
Pavillon de Flore
The Pavillon de Flore and the Pavillon de Marsan were linked until 1871 by the Tuileries Palace. The Pavillon de Flore takes its name from the relief of the "Triumph of Flora" (by Jean- Baptiste Carpeaux, 1866) on the side facing the Seine.
Le Louvre des Antiquaires
Le Louvre des Antiquaires contains 250 antique dealers on three floors offering furniture and objets d'art of all periods.
Address: 2 place du Palais Royal, F-75001 Paris, France
Opening hours: Jul 1 to Aug 31: 11am-7pm; Closed: Sun, Mon
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 11am-7pm; Closed: Mon
Sep 1 to Jun 30: 11am-7pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), 1945 Victory Day (May 8), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Bastille Day - France (Jul 14), Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Remembrance Day / 1918 Armistice Day (Nov 11), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Pentecost Monday (Whit Monday) - Christian, Ascension Thursday - Christian
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
Transit: Metro: Palais-Royal.
In November 1993, on the 200th anniversary of the Louvre as a museum, the second and most important part of the Grand Louvre project was completed. It had begun in 1989 with the departure of the Ministry of Finance from the northern (Richelieu) wing of the palace, which it had occupied for over a hundred years, since the time of the Duc de Morny, Napoleon III's minister, to new premises at Bercy. As the opening of the new entrance to the museum under I. M. Pei's glass pyramid had signalled the completion of the first phase of the project, so the opening of the north wing (also designed by Pei) on November 18, 1993 marked the successful completion of the second. This doubled the exhibition space available to the museum from 30,000 sq.m/323,000 sq.ft to 60,000 sq.m/646,000 sq.ft, giving it room to display over 30,000 exhibits. In the final phase, which is due to be completed by 1997, the existing rooms in the south wing are to be reorganized, and the exhibits in the Denon and Sully wings, apart from the large works in the Greek collection, are to be rearranged. At the same time the construction of the Carrousel du Louvre, the underground facilities to be provided under the courtyard round the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (an underground parking lot with over 700 places, a service center with shops, restaurants and function rooms, all to be privately run), to be linked with the museum's reception area, will be pushed ahead. In addition the facades of the palace will be restored and the Jardin du Carrousel replanted.With the reopening of the remodelled rooms on the first floor of the Sully wing round the Cour Carrée in December 1992 the planned rearrangement of the Louvre's picture collections began. In future they are to be displayed in national schools, since French painting accounts for more than half the museum's holdings. The schools of northern Europe will be shown in the north (Richelieu) wing; the southern schools, as hitherto, will be in the south (Denon) wing; and French painting will be mainly in the Sully wing round the Cour Carrée. The present division into seven departments - Oriental (including Islamic) art, Egyptian (including Coptic) art, Greek, Etruscan and Roman art, sculpture, painting, applied and decorative art and graphic art - will be retained, though the separation of genres will not be absolutely rigid. Sculpture will be displayed mainly on the ground floor of the Denon and Richelieu wings, and painting and graphic art will be brought closer together.The Palais du Louvre stands on the site of the medieval stronghold built on the right bank of the Seine by Philippe II (Philippe Auguste) about the year 1200. This side of the river was then known as Lupara, which later became Louvre. Remains of Philippe Auguste's fortress can be seen on the mezzanine level below the Cour Carrée. Louis IX (St Louis) added a large hall and extended the crypt (excavation finds on mezzanine level); then in the reign of Louis V Raymond du Temple enlarged the castle still further, and in 1360 the king moved into it, although the palace on the Ile de la Cité remained his official residence. Until the reign of Henri II the French kings lived omly sporadically in their town palace. Detailed evidence on the history of the building in the time of Charles V is provided by the "Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry", the prayer-book illuminated by the Limburg brothers. In the 15th century the Louvre served mainly as an arsenal for the storage of weapons, since the kings preferred to live in their châteaux on the Loire. Then in the first half of the 16th century François I, the "Renaissance king", took an interest in the palace. He had the keep pulled down and commissioned the architect Pierre Lescot and the sculptor Jean Goujon, following Italian models, to build the halves of the west and south wings of the Old Louvre which meet at a right angle round the present Cour Carrée. After François' death these parts were completed by Lescot and Goujon, and in 1566 they were extended by the Petite Galerie (at right angles to Lescot's south wing). At almost the same time (1564 onwards), after the death of Henri II, the Tuileries Palace was built as a residence for his widow Catherine de Médicis only 500m/550yds west of the Old Louvre (along the present Avenue du Général-Lemonnier). In the reign of Henri IV this palace was linked by the long south wing along the Seine, the Galerie du Bord de l'Eau, with the Petite Galerie. After the murder of Henri IV his widow moved to the Palais du Luxembourg. Their son Louis XIII completed the Cour Carrée and the Pavillon Sully. Louis XIV commissioned Le Brun and Le Vau to remodel the Petite Galerie and Claude Perrault to build a monumental facade on the east wing, now known as the Colonnade. Both the Louvre and the Tuileries were occupied only for short periods, and after Louis XIV moved his residence to Versailles they fell into such a state of dilapidation that in the mid 17th century consideration was given to their possible demolition. Louis XV, however, began the process of renovation. At this time the idea first emerged of bringing together in the Louvre the royal collections of masterpieces of art. In 1776 the Grande Galerie was declared a museum. During the Revolution, on May 26 1791, the people were able for the first time to see the royal apartments. Napoleon enlarged the courtyard in front of the Tuileries (now the Jardin du Louvre and Place and Square du Carrousel) and set up in its center the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and also began the construction of the north wing along Rue de Rivoli. In the reign of Napoleon III the Louvre and the Tuileries were joined up, and Baron Haussmann laid out the Jardin du Louvre and Place and Square du Carrousel in their present form. Only a few years later, however, on May 23, 1871, the Tuileries Palace was burned down by the Commune. Fortunately the fire was extinguished before it reached the Louvre, but the Tuileries was completely destroyed and was not rebuilt. Finally in autumn 1981 President Mitterand initiated the ambitious project to make the Louvre the biggest museum in the world, the Grand Louvre, which was to be a temple of culture worthy of the historic site on which it stood.
Exterior East Front Colonnades
In 1665 an architectural competition was held to secure the best architects of the day to design a suitably imposing east front for the Old Louvre. Among those who entered the competition were the French architects Jean Marot and Jacques Lemercier and the Italian Lorenzo Bernini, architect of St Peter's Square in Rome. The winning design was the joint work of Claude Perrault, Louis Le Vau and Charles Lebrun. Their Colonnade, which can now be seen in its full height, represents a compromise between French Baroque and Italian Neo-Classical models. The twin columns and flat roof are characteristic of the Italian neo-classical style, while the emphasis given to the central section with its triangular pediment and to the ends of the facade is typically French.Now that the basement structure has been exposed the colonnade with its 18 Corinthian columns is given the height and the distance which the architects intended. The classical severity of the facade was designed to be relieved by a series of statues along the roof balustrade, but this part of the project was not carried out. After the court departed for Versailles building work stopped and was resumed only in the time of Napoleon. From that period date the sculpture in the pediment (Minerva, 1811) and the relief over the arch of the doorway (the goddess of Victory in a four-horse chariot); higher up, to right and left, are medallions with the initials of Louis XIV.
The southern half of the west wing of the Cour Carrée at the Louvre, built between 1559 and 1574 by the architect Pierre Lescot (1510-78) and the sculptor Jean Goujon (1510-68) is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. In its conspicuous harmony it illustrates how the men of the Renaissance sought to achieve the regularity of their antique models in a clear and modest form but not necessarily without ornament - a style very different from the monumental classicism of the late 18th century, as seen, for example, in the Madeleine and the Panthéon. Both horizontally, in the alternation of the doorway and pediment levels with the window level, and vertically (if the low upper story is seen as a unit with the roof) there is a clear division into three; and the relationship between the door and window sections and between the height of the storys and the projecting moulding that marks them off also shows a ratio of 3 to 1. The round-headed windows on the ground floor give it the effect of an arcade. On the middle floor every two windows with triangular pediments alternate with a window with a semicircular pediment (again showing the rhythm in threes). The top floor is famed for Jean Goujon's marvelous relief decoration in the semicircular pediments, between which is a richly ornamented balustrade. The reliefs in the pediments are allegorical, representing nature (left; Ceres for agriculture, Neptune for seafaring, genius with cornucopia), war (center; the war god Neptune, the war goddess Bellona, prisoners) and learning (right; Archimedes for astronomy, Euclid for geometry, genius of learning).
Musee des Arts Decoratifs / Musee de la Mode et du Textile
In the west pavilion in the north wing of the Louvre (Pavillon de Marsan) is the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which is independent of the Louvre. It has a rich collection of furniture and furnishings from the Middle Ages to modern times. Attached to it is a fashion museum, the Musée de la Mode et du Textile, with a collection of costly creations by Chanel, Dior, Worth, Cardin and other famous couturiers.
Address: Palais du Louvre, 107 rue de Rivoli, F-75001 Paris, France
Opening hours: 11am-6pm; Sun: 10am-6pm; Thu: 11am-9pm; Sat: 10am-6pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €8.00, Concession or reduced rate €6.50, Child 17 & under FREE
Useful tips: Documentation in foreign languages available. Photography prohibited.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Facilities: Gift shop, Wheelchair loan or rental
Transit: Metro: Palais Royal, Tuileries; Buses: 21, 27, 39, 69, 72, 81, 95.