🤩 Discover new information from across the web


Art and archeology museum in Paris, France

Top 10 Louvre related articles

Louvre Museum
The Richelieu Wing of the museum
Location within Paris
Established1793; 228 years ago (1793)
LocationMusée du Louvre, 75001 Paris, France
Coordinates48°51′40″N 2°20′11″E / 48.86111°N 2.33639°E / 48.86111; 2.33639Coordinates: 48°51′40″N 2°20′11″E / 48.86111°N 2.33639°E / 48.86111; 2.33639
TypeArt museum and Historic site
Collection size615,797 in 2019[1] (35,000 on display)[2]
Visitors2.7 million (2020)[3]
DirectorJean-Luc Martinez
CuratorMarie-Laure de Rochebrune
Public transit access

The Louvre (English: /ˈlv(rə)/ LOOV(-rə)[4]), or the Louvre Museum (French: Musée du Louvre [myze dy luvʁ] ( listen)), is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France, and is best known for being the home of the Mona Lisa. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement (district or ward). Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square meters (782,910 square feet). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic The museum was closed for 150 days in 2020, and attendance plunged by 72 percent to 2.7 million. Nonetheless, the Louvre still topped the list of most-visited art museums in the world in 2020.[5]

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as the Louvre castle in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to urban expansion, the fortress eventually lost its defensive function, and in 1546 Francis I converted it into the primary residence of the French Kings.[6] The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture.[7] In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years.[8] During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum was renamed Musée Napoléon, but after Napoleon's abdication, many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and bequests since the Third Republic. The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

The Musée du Louvre contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments with more than 60,600 square metres (652,000 sq ft) dedicated to the permanent collection.[2] The Louvre exhibits sculptures, objets d'art, paintings, drawings, and archaeological finds.[9] It is the world's most visited museum, averaging 15,000 visitors per day, 65 percent of whom are foreign tourists.[10][11]

Louvre Intro articles: 26


Aerial view of the Louvre Palace and Tuileries Park

The museum lies in the center of Paris on the Right Bank, in the 1st arrondissement. Until 1871 it was connected to the Tuileries Palace which closed it off on the western side, but was heavily damaged by fire during the Paris Commune of 1871 and later demolished. The adjacent Tuileries Gardens, created in 1564 by Catherine de' Medici, was designed in 1664 by André Le Nôtre.

The Louvre is slightly askew of the Historic Axis (Axe historique), a roughly eight-kilometre (five-mile) architectural line bisecting the city. The axis begins with the Louvre courtyard, at a point now symbolically marked by a lead copy of Bernini's equestrian statue of Louis XIV, and runs west along the Champs-Élysées to La Défense and slightly beyond.

Louvre Location articles: 9


Before the Museum

Below-ground portions of the medieval Louvre are still visible.[12]

The Louvre Palace, which houses the museum, was begun as a fortress by King Philip II in the late 12th century to protect the city from the attack from the West, as the Kingdom of England still held Normandy at the time. Remnants of this castle are still visible in the crypt.[12] Whether this was the first building on that spot is not known, and it is possible that Philip modified an existing tower.[13]

The origins of the name "Louvre" are somewhat disputed. According to the authoritative Grand Larousse encyclopédique, the name derives from an association with wolf hunting den (via Latin: lupus, lower Empire: lupara).[13][14] In the 7th century, Burgundofara (also known as Saint Fare), abbess in Meaux, is said to have gifted part of her "Villa called Luvra situated in the region of Paris" to a monastery,[15] even though it is doubtful that this land corresponded exactly to the present site of the Louvre.

The Louvre Palace was altered frequently over the centuries. In the 14th century, Charles V converted the building from its military role into a residence. In 1546, Francis I started its rebuilding in French Renaissance style.[16] After Louis XIV chose Versailles as his residence in 1682, construction works slowed to a halt. The royal move away from Paris resulted in the Louvre being used as a residence for artists, under Royal patronage.[16][17][18] For example, four generations of craftsmen-artists from the Boulle family were granted Royal patronage and resided in the Louvre.[19][20][21]

Meanwhile, the collections of the Louvre originated in the acquisitions of paintings and other artworks by the monarchs of the House of France. Francis acquired what would become the nucleus of the Louvre's holdings, his acquisitions including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.[22]

By the mid-18th century there were an increasing number of proposals to create a public gallery in the Louvre. Art critic Étienne La Font de Saint-Yenne in 1747 published a call for a display of the royal collection. On 14 October 1750, Louis XV decided on a display of 96 pieces from the royal collection, mounted in the Galerie royale de peinture of the Luxembourg Palace. A hall was opened by Le Normant de Tournehem and the Marquis de Marigny for public viewing of the "king's paintings" (Tableaux du Roy) on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Luxembourg gallery included Andrea del Sarto's Charity and works by Raphael; Titian; Veronese; Rembrandt; Poussin or Van Dyck. It closed in 1780 as a result of the royal gift of the Luxembourg palace to the Count of Provence (the future king, Louis XVIII) by the king in 1778.[23] Under Louis XVI, the idea of a royal museum in the Louvre came closer to fruition.[24] The comte d'Angiviller broadened the collection and in 1776 proposed to convert the Grande Galerie of the Louvre – which at that time contained the plans-peliefs or 3D models of key fortified sites in and around France – into the "French Museum". Many design proposals were offered for the Louvre's renovation into a museum, without a final decision being made on them. Hence the museum remained incomplete until the French Revolution.[23]

Revolutionary opening

The Louvre finally became a public museum during the French Revolution. In May 1791, the National Constituent Assembly declared that the Louvre would be "a place for bringing together monuments of all the sciences and arts".[23] On 10 August 1792, Louis XVI was imprisoned and the royal collection in the Louvre became national property. Because of fear of vandalism or theft, on 19 August, the National Assembly pronounced the museum's preparation as urgent. In October, a committee to "preserve the national memory" began assembling the collection for display.[25]

Antonio Canova's Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss was commissioned in 1787, donated in 1824.[26]

The museum opened on 10 August 1793, the first anniversary of the monarchy's demise, as Muséum central des arts de la République. The public was given free accessibility on three days per week, which was "perceived as a major accomplishment and was generally appreciated".[27] The collection showcased 537 paintings and 184 objects of art. Three quarters were derived from the royal collections, the remainder from confiscated émigrés and Church property (biens nationaux).[28][9] To expand and organize the collection, the Republic dedicated 100,000 livres per year.[23] In 1794, France's revolutionary armies began bringing pieces from Northern Europe, augmented after the Treaty of Tolentino (1797) by works from the Vatican, such as the Laocoön and Apollo Belvedere, to establish the Louvre as a museum and as a "sign of popular sovereignty".[28][29]

The early days were hectic. Privileged artists continued to live in residence, and the unlabeled paintings hung "frame to frame from floor to ceiling".[28] The structure itself closed in May 1796 due to structural deficiencies. It reopened on 14 July 1801, arranged chronologically and with new lighting and columns.[28] On 15 August 1797, the Galerie d'Apollon was opened with an exhibition of drawings. Meanwhile the Louvre's gallery of Antiquity sculpture (musée des Antiques), with artefacts brought from Florence and the Vatican, had opened in November 1800 in Anne of Austria's former summer apartment, located on the ground floor below just the Galerie d'Apollon.

Napoleonic era

Napoleon had the museum renamed Musée Napoléon in 1803 and had grand plans for the site. A northern wing paralleling the Grande Galerie was begun, and the collection grew through successful military campaigns.[30] Following the Egyptian campaign of 1798–1801, Napoléon appointed the museum's first director, Dominique Vivant Denon.

Acquisitions were made of Spanish, Austrian, Dutch, and Italian works, either as the result of war looting or formalized by treaties such as the Treaty of Tolentino.[31] At the end of Napoleon's First Italian Campaign in 1797, the Treaty of Campo Formio was signed with Count Philipp von Cobenzl of the Austrian Monarchy. This treaty marked the completion of Napoleon's conquest of Italy and the end of the first phase of the French Revolutionary Wars. It compelled Italian cities to contribute pieces of art and heritage to Napoleon's "parades of spoils" through Paris before being put into the Louvre Museum.[32] The Horses of Saint Mark, which had adorned the basilica of San Marco in Venice after the sack of Constantinople in 1204, were brought to Paris where they were placed atop Napoleon's Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in 1797.[32] Under the Treaty of Tolentino, the two statues of the Nile and Tiber were taken to Paris from the Vatican in 1797, and were both kept in the Louvre until 1815. (The Nile was later returned to Rome,[33] whereas the Tiber has remained in the Louvre to this day.) The despoilment of Italian churches and palaces outraged the Italians and their artistic and cultural sensibilities.[34]

After the French defeat at Waterloo, the looted works' former owners sought their return. The Louvre's administrator Denon was loath to comply in absence of a treaty of restitution. In response, foreign states sent emissaries to London to seek help, and many pieces were returned, though far from all.[31][35] In 1815 Louis XVIII finally concluded agreements with the Austrian government[36][37] for the keeping of works such as Veronese's Wedding at Cana which was exchanged for a large Le Brun or the repurchase of the Albani collection.

from 1815 to 1852

The Venus de Milo was added to the Louvre's collection during the reign of Louis XVIII.

For most of the 19th century, from Napoleon's time to the Second Empire, the Louvre and other national museums were managed under the monarch's civil list and thus depended much on the ruler's personal involvement. Whereas the most iconic collection remained that of paintings in the Grande Galerie, a number of other initiatives mushroomed in the vast building, named as if they were separate museums even though they were generally managed under the same administrative umbrella. Correspondingly, the museum complex was often referred to in the plural (les musées du Louvre) rather than singular.

During the Bourbon Restoration (1814–1830), Louis XVIII and Charles X added to the collections. The Greek and Roman sculpture gallery on the ground floor of the Southwestern side of the Cour Carrée was completed on designs by Percier and Fontaine. Charles X created the Musée egyption in 1826 and in 1827 included it in his broader Musée Charles X, a new section of the museum complex located in a suite of lavishly decorated rooms on the first floor of the South Wing of the Cour Carrée. The Egyptian collection, initially curated by Jean-François Champollion, formed the basis for what is now the Louvre's Department of Egyptian Antiquities. It was formed from the purchased collections of Edme-Antoine Durand, Henry Salt and the second collection of Bernardino Drovetti (the first one having been purchased by Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia to form the core of the present Museo Egizio in Turin). The Restoration period also saw the opening in 1824 of the Galerie d'Angoulême, a section of largely French sculptures on the ground floor of the Northwestern side of the Cour Carrée, many of whose artefacts came from the Palace of Versailles and from Alexandre Lenoir's Musée des Monuments français following its closure in 1816. Meanwhile, the French Navy established a musée naval of ship models in 1827, building up on a 18th-century initiative of Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau. The Naval Museum was initially located on the first floor of the Cour Carrée's North Wing, and in 1838 moved up one level to the 2nd-floor attic, where it remained for more than a century.[38]

Following the July Revolution, King Louis Philippe focused his interest on the repurposing of the Palace of Versailles into a Museum of French History conceived as a project of national reconciliation, and the Louvre was kept in comparative neglect. Louis-Philippe did, however, sponsor the creation of the musée assyrien to host the monumental Assyrian sculpture works brought to Paris by Paul-Émile Botta, in the Northeastern corner of the Cour Carrée's ground floor. The Assyrian Museum opened on 1 May 1847.[39] Separately, Louis-Philippe had his Spanish gallery displayed in the Louvre from 7 January 1838, in five rooms on the first floor of the Cour Carrée's East (Colonnade) Wing,[40] but the collection remained his personal property. As a consequence, the works were removed after Louis-Philippe was deposed in 1848, and were eventually auctioned away in 1853.

The decoration of the salle des sept-cheminées, designed by Félix Duban, was part of the 2nd Republic program for the Louvre

The short-lived Second Republic had more ambitions for the Louvre. It initiated repair work, the completion of the Galerie d'Apollon and of the salle des sept-cheminées, and the overhaul of the salon carré (site of the iconic yearly Salon) and of the Grande Galerie.[41] In 1848, the Naval Museum in the Cour Carrée's attic was brought under the common Louvre Museum management,[38] a change which was again reversed in 1920. In 1850 under the leadership of curator Adrien de Longpérier, the musée mexicain opened within the Louvre as the first European museum dedicated to pre-Columbian art.

Second Empire

The rule of Napoleon III was transformational for the Louvre, both the building and the museum. In 1852, he created the Musée des Souverains in the Colonnade Wing, an ideological project aimed at buttressing his personal legitimacy. In 1861, he bought 11,835 artworks including 641 paintings, Greek gold and other antiquities of the Campana collection. For its display, he created another new section within the Louvre named Musée Napoléon III, occupying a number of rooms in various parts of the building. Between 1852 and 1870, the museum added 20,000 new artefacts to its collections.

The main change of that period was to the building itself. In the 1850s architects Louis Visconti and Hector Lefuel created massive new spaces around what is now called the Cour Napoléon, some of which (in the South Wing, now aile Denon)) went to the museum.[41] In the 1860s, Lefuel also led the creation of the pavillon des Sessions with a new salle des Etats close to Napoleon III's residence in the Tuileries Palace, with the effect of shortening the Grande Galerie by about a third of its previous length. A smaller but significant Second Empire project was the salle des Empereurs, below the salon carré.

The Louvre was damaged during the suppression of the Paris Commune. On 23 May 1871, as the French Army advanced into Paris, a force of Communards led by Jules Bergeret [fr] set fire to the adjoining Tuileries Palace. The fire burned for forty-eight hours, entirely destroying the interior of the Tuileries and spreading to the north west wing of the museum next to it. The emperor's Louvre library (Bibliothèque du Louvre) and some of the adjoining halls, in what is now the Richelieu Wing, were separately destroyed. But the museum was saved by the efforts of Paris firemen and museum employees led by curator Henry Barbet de Jouy [fr].[42]

Third Republic and World Wars

Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt seen with a plaster model of the Venus de Milo,[43] while visiting the Louvre with the curator Alfred Merlin on 7 October 1940

During the Third Republic (1871–1940) the Louvre acquired new artefacts mainly via donations, gifts, and sharing arrangements on excavations abroad. The Société des amis du Louvre was established in 1897 and donated prominent works, such the Pietà of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. In 1884, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which had been found in the Aegean Sea in 1863, was prominently displayed.[44] The 583-item Collection La Caze donated in 1869, included works by Chardin; Fragonard; Rembrandt – such as Bathsheba at Her Bath – and Gilles by Watteau.[44] Major artifacts excavated at Susa in Iran, including the massive Apadana capital and glazed brick decoration from the Palace of Darius there, accrued to the Oriental (Near Eastern) Antiquities Department in the 1880s.

The Louvre's monumental escalier Daru was completed in the 1930s.

From the late 19th century, the Louvre was gradually focused as a museum of French, Western and Near Eastern art, covering a space ranging from Iran to the Atlantic. The collections of the Louvre's musée mexicain were transferred to the Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro in 1887. Many of the significant holdings of non-Western artefacts held together with the Musée de Marine in the second-floor attic of the North Wing of the Cour Carrée were transferred to other Paris museums in 1905, as the Maritime Museum was constrained on real estate.[38] The Musée de Marine itself was relocated to the Palais de Chaillot and opened there in 1943. The Louvre's Chinese collections were moved to the Guimet Museum in 1945.

The expansion of the museum and its collection slowed after World War I, despite some prominent acquisitions such as Georges de La Tour's Saint Thomas and Baron Edmond de Rothschild's (1845–1934) 1935 donation of 4,000 prints, 3,000 drawings, and 500 illustrated books.[9] The Louvre's first gallery of Islamic Art opened in 1922. Louvre Director Henri Verne [fr] devised a master plan for the rationalization of the museum's exhibitions in the late 1920s, part of which was implemented with the transformation of the cour du Sphinx into a covered atrium and the deployment of objets d'art into the first floor of the North Wing of the Cour Carrée.

During World War II, the Louvre conducted an elaborate plan of evacuation of its art collection. When Germany occupied the Sudetenland, many important artworks such as the Mona Lisa were temporarily moved to the Château de Chambord. When war was formally declared a year later, most of the museum's paintings were sent there as well. Select sculptures such as Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo were sent to the Château de Valençay.[45] On 27 August 1939, after two days of packing, truck convoys began to leave Paris. By 28 December, the museum was cleared of most works, except those that were too heavy and "unimportant paintings [that] were left in the basement".[46] In early 1945, after the liberation of France, art began returning to the Louvre.[47]

In 1961, the Finance Ministry accepted to leave the Pavillon de Flore at the western end of the Louvre's South Wing. New exhibition spaces of sculptures (ground floor) and paintings (first floor) opened there later in the 1960s, on a design by government architect Olivier Lahalle.[48]

Grand Louvre

In 1981, French President François Mitterrand proposed, as one of his Grands Projets, the Grand Louvre plan to relocate the Finance Ministry, until then housed in the North Wing of the Louvre, and thus devote almost the entire Louvre building (except its northwestern tip, which houses the separate Musée des Arts Décoratifs) to the museum which would be correspondingly restructured. In 1984 I. M. Pei, the architect personally selected by Mitterrand, proposed a master plan including an underground entrance space accessed through a glass pyramid in the Louvre's central Cour Napoléon.[49]

The open spaces surrounding the pyramid were inaugurated on 15 October 1988, and its underground lobby was opened in 30 March 1989. New galleries of early modern French paintings on the 2nd floor of the Cour Carrée, for which the planning had started before the Grand Louvre, also opened in 1989. Further rooms in the same sequence, designed by Italo Rota, opened on 15 December 1992.

On 18 November 1993, Mitterrand inaugurated the next major phase of the Grand Louvre plan: the renovated North (Richelieu) Wing in the former Finance Ministry site, the museum's largest single expansion in its entire history, designed by Pei, his French associate Michel Macary, and Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Further underground spaces known as the Carrousel du Louvre, centered on the Inverted Pyramid and designed by Pei and Macary, had opened in October 1993. Other refurbished galleries, of Italian sculptures and Egyptian antiquities, opened in 1994. The third and last main phase of the plan unfolded mainly in 1997, with new renovated rooms in the Sully and Denon wings.

A new entrance at the porte des Lions opened in 1998, leading on the first floor to new rooms of Spanish paintings, and on the ground floor to a selection from the collections of what would become the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. The latter galleries, known as pavillon des Sessions, opened in 2000, six years ahead of the Musée du Quai Branly itself.

As of 2002, the Louvre's visitor count had doubled from its pre-Grand-Louvre levels.[10]

21st century

Display of non-Western artifacts from the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in the Louvre's Pavillon des Sessions

The main new initiative in the aftermath of the Grand Louvre project, aside from the Pavillon des Sessions, was President Jacques Chirac's decision to create a new department of Islamic Art, by executive order of 1 August 2003, and to move the corresponding collections from their underground location in the Richelieu Wing to a more prominent site in the Denon Wing. That new section opened on 22 September 2012, with financing from the Al Waleed bin Talal Foundation and on a design by Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti.[50][51][52]

The Louvre, like many other museums and galleries, felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts and cultural heritage. It was closed for six months during French coronavirus lockdowns and saw visitor numbers plunge to 2.7 million in 2020, from 9.6 million in 2019 and 10.2 million in 2018, which was a record year.[53]

Louvre History articles: 135


The Musée du Louvre owns 615,797 objects[1] of which 482,943 are accessible online since 24 March 2021[54] and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments.[2]

Egyptian antiquities

The department, comprising over 50,000 pieces,[55] includes artifacts from the Nile civilizations which date from 4,000 BC to the 4th century AD.[56] The collection, 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.[56]

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.[55] 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.[55][57]

Guarded by the Large Sphinx (c. 2000 BC), the collection is housed in more than 20 rooms. Holdings include art, papyrus scrolls, mummies, tools, clothing, jewelry, games, musical instruments, and weapons.[55][56] 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.[56][57]

Near Eastern antiquities

Near Eastern antiquities, the second newest department, dates from 1881 and presents an overview of early Near Eastern civilization and "first settlements", before the arrival of Islam. The department is divided into three geographic areas: the Levant, Mesopotamia (Iraq), and Persia (Iran). 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.[56][58] These finds formed the basis of the Assyrian museum, the precursor to today's department.[56]

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.[56][59] This section also contains rare objects from Persepolis which were also lent to the British Museum for its Ancient Persia exhibition in 2005.[60]

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman

Greek antiquities in Room 11

The Greek, Etruscan, and Roman department displays pieces from the Mediterranean Basin dating from the Neolithic to the 6th century.[61] 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.[56][62] 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.[63][61]

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.[56][64] 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.[62] 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.[61] 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.

Islamic art

The Islamic art collection, the museum's newest, spans "thirteen centuries and three continents".[65] These exhibits, comprising ceramics, glass, metalware, wood, ivory, carpet, textiles, and miniatures, include more than 5,000 works and 1,000 shards.[66] 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.[58][65] 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.[66] 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.[67]


The Cour Marly of the Louvre, where many French sculptures are exhibited

The sculpture department comprises work created before 1850 that does not belong in the Etruscan, Greek, and Roman department.[68] The Louvre has been a repository of sculpted material since its time as a palace; however, only ancient architecture was displayed until 1824, except for Michelangelo's Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave.[69] 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.[69] 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.[68][69] 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.[68]

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 1640–1 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).[69] The 18th and 19th centuries are represented by the French sculptor Alfred Barye.

Decorative arts

Some of the Second Empire style rooms of the apartments of Napoleon III

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.[70][71] 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.[71][72]

The works are displayed on the Richelieu Wing's first floor and in the Apollo Gallery, 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.[73] The Renaissance art holdings include Giambologna's bronze Nessus and Deianira and the tapestry Maximillian's Hunt.[70] From later periods, highlights include Madame de Pompadour's Sèvres vase collection and Napoleon III's apartments.[70]

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.


Mona Lisa; by Leonardo da Vinci; circa 1503–1506, perhaps continuing until circa 1517; oil on poplar panel; 77 cm × 53 cm

The painting collection has more than 7,500 works[77] from the 13th century to 1848 and is managed by 12 curators who oversee the collection's display. Nearly two-thirds are by French artists, and more than 1,200 are Northern European. 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.[78][79] The collection began with Francis, who acquired works from Italian masters such as Raphael and Michelangelo[80] and brought Leonardo da Vinci to his court.[22][81] After the French Revolution, the Royal Collection formed the nucleus of the Louvre. When the d'Orsay train station was converted into the Musée d'Orsay in 1986, the collection was split, and pieces completed after the 1848 Revolution were moved to the new museum. French and Northern European works are in the Richelieu Wing and Cour Carrée; Spanish and Italian paintings are on the first floor of the Denon Wing.[79]

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;[82] 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.[83]

Northern European works include Johannes Vermeer's The Lacemaker and The Astronomer; Caspar David Friedrich's The Tree of Crows; Rembrandt's The Supper at Emmaus, Bathsheba at Her Bath, and The Slaughtered Ox.

The Italian holdings are notable, particularly the Renaissance collection. 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".[84] 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. 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.[85][86]

The La Caze Collection, a bequest to the Musée du Louvre in 1869 by Louis La Caze, was the largest contribution of a person in the history of the Louvre. La Caze gave 584 paintings of his personal collection to the museum. The bequest included Antoine Watteau's Commedia dell'arte player of Pierrot ("Gilles"). In 2007, this bequest was the topic of the exhibition "1869: Watteau, Chardin... entrent au Louvre. La collection La Caze".[87]

Some of the best known paintings of the museum have been digitized by the French Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France.[88]