The Palais des Louvre was once the palace
of the ultimate king and biggest building in the entire world. Today, the vast horseshoe-shaped palace,
built in stages over eight centuries, with its striking
20th-century pyramid entry, houses the world’s grandest collection of art treasures. These people are waiting, not to get into the Louvre, but to buy a
ticket to get into the Louvre. With a City Museum Pass,
I save money and, more importantly, lots have time.
with this pass can walk right in. Once inside, take a moment to enjoy the
modern pyramid entry a work of art in itself.
It leads to three wings. We’ll limit our visit to
the Denon wing. The Louvre’s huge collection
covers art history from ancient times
to about 1850.
It can be overwhelming.
A key to enjoying your visit: don’t even try to cover it all.
Enjoy an excuse to return. Remember to look up for a sense at
how long before it was a museum this was Europe’s ultimate palace and
home of its mightiest kings. In fact, the collection includes royal
French regalia such as the crown of Louis XV.
And the crown Napoleon
wore on his coronation. This museum is one
of the world’s oldest; opened to the public during the
French Revolution in 1793. I guess it just makes sense
you behead the king, you inherit his palace and a vast royal
collection of art, open the doors and voil! A people’s museum. The statue of Winged Victory seems to
declare that the Louvre’s ancient collection is Europe’s finest.
Two centuries before Christ, this wind-whipped masterpiece of
Hellenistic Greek art stood on a bluff, celebrating a great
And, just past her stands an entourage of twisting
and striding statues each modeling the
ideal human form. Venus de Milo has struck
her pose like a reigning beauty queen for
2500 years now. There must be more famous paintings here
than in any other museum. The crowded Grand Gallery, while a
quarter mile long, displays only a small part of the Louvre’s collection.
We’ll feature a few paintings
representative of three styles: Renaissance,
Neo-classical, and Romantic. Franois I, who ruled through
the early 1500s was France’s Renaissance king. His private paintings
became the core of the Louvre’s collectio.N It was trendy for kings to have a
Renaissance genius in their court. One of Europe’s greatest kings Franois Premier got Europe’s top genius Leonardo da Vinci.
epitomized the aesthetics of the Renaissance. And the Louvre’s collection of his paintings
demonstrates his lasting influence. His “Virgin of the Rocks”
illustrates his trademark sfumato technique
the subtle modeling of his faces, and, in landscapes, how he shows
distance by making it hazier and hazier.
And this portrait, Mona Lisa, believed to be of the wife
of a Florentine merchant, is Leonardo’s crowd-pleasing
masterpiece. With her enigmatic smile, she seems to
enjoy all the attention.
Her body is solid and statue-like, a
perfectly balanced pyramid, angled back so we can
appreciate its mass. Her arm, level with the frame, adds
stability and realism. And again, Leonardo creates depth
in Mona’s dreamy backyard. For me this painting sums up the
Renaissance balance, confidence, and humanism, the
age when the common individual Mona Lisa becomes
Like the museum, Napoleon was a product of the revolution.
One of the Louvre’s largest canvases shows Europe’s grandest
coronation Napoleon’s. The pope traveled from Rome to Paris to
crown Napoleon but Europe’s most famous megalomaniac,
crown confidently in hand, pretty much ran the coronation show
himself. The pope looks a little neglected. The French Revolution was all about
So Napoleon crowned
himself Emperor. The politically correct art style of the time was
Neo-classical. Napoleon would approve of everything in
this room. Greek, Roman, heroic, or patriotic themes clean, simple and logical it’s pure
This Parisian woman, wearing ancient garb and a Pompeii
hairdo, reclines on a Roman-style couch,
perfectly in vogue. Neo-classicism was an intellectual
movement. After all, during the revolution,
everything was subjected to the test of reason. Nothing was sacred.
If it wasn’t logical, it
was rejected. The reaction to Neo-classicism was a
Romantic movement Romanticism. Romanticism meant putting feeling
over intellect, passion over restrained
judgment. Logic and reason were replaced by a
spirit that encouraged artists to be emotional and create not merely with the eyes saw,
but also what the heart felt.
What better setting for an
emotional work than the story have an actual shipwreck? In Gericault’s
“Raft of the Medusa,” we see a human pyramid ranging from
death and despair at its base to a pinnacle of hope as one of the
survivors spots a ship, which ultimately comes to their rescue.
If art controls your heartbeat, this is a masterpiece. The Romantic movement championed
nationalistic causes of the 19th century. Delacroix’s
“Liberty Leading the People” shows the citizens in 1830 once again
asserting their power and raising the French flag at a barricade
in those troublesome back streets of Paris. This painting and that struggle
reverberate with the French people to this day..