Louvre(Louvre Museum or Mus¨Ĥe du Louvre), Paris, France Tourist Attractions and Travel

Louvre (properly, Musée du Louvre) on the right bank of the Seine River, in Paris, France. is one of the largest, oldest, most important and famous art galleries and museum in the world. National art museum of France and the palace in which it is housed. It is famous for holding several of the world's most prestigious works of art, such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, Virgin of the Rocks and Alexandros of Antioch's Venus de Milo. The structure, until 1682 a residence of the kings of France, is one of the largest palaces in the world. It occupies the site of a 13th-century fortress.

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The building of the Louvre was begun in 1546 in the reign of Francis I, according to the plans of the French architect Pierre Lescot. Additions were made to the structure during the reigns of almost every subsequent French monarch. Under Henry IV, in the early 17th century, the Grande Galerie, now the main picture gallery, which borders the Seine, was completed. Under Napoleon III a wing on the north side (along the rue de Rivoli) was finished. By the mid-19th century the vast complex was completed; covering more than 19 hectares (48 acres), it is a masterpiece of architectural design and sculptural adornment.

Louvre(Louvre Museum or Mus¨Ĥe du Louvre), Paris, France

 

In 2008, the Louvre attractions received a record 8.2 million visitors in part due to the success of Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code—a significant boost of 22% compared to previous figures, placing the Louvre as the most visited monument in Paris.

 

The Louvre, in its successive architectural metamorphoses, has dominated central Paris since the late 12th century. Built on the city's western edge, the original structure was gradually engulfed as the city grew. The dark fortress of the early days was transformed into the modernized dwelling of François I and, later, the sumptuous palace of the Sun King, Louis XIV. Here we explore the history of this extraordinary edifice and of the museum that has occupied it since 1793.

 

national museum and art gallery of France, housed in part of a large palace in Paris that was built on the right-bank site of the 12th-century fortress of Philip Augustus. In 1546 Francis I, who was a great art collector, had this old castle razed and began to build on its site another royal residence, the Louvre, which was added to by almost every subsequent French monarch. Under Francis I, only a small portion of the present Louvre was completed, under the architect Pierre Lescot. This original section is today the southwestern part of the Cour Carrée. In the 17th century, major additions were made to the building complex by Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Cardinal de Richelieu, the chief minister of Louis XIII, acquired great works of art for the king. Louis XIV and his minister, Cardinal Mazarin, acquired outstanding art collections, including that of Charles I of England. A committee consisting of the architects Claude Perrault and Louis Le Vau and the decorator and painter Charles Le Brun planned that part of the Louvre tourism which is known as the Colonnade.

Louvre(Louvre Museum or Mus¨Ĥe du Louvre), Paris, France

 

In 1793 the Louvre was opened as a public museum, and the French painter Jacques-Louis David was appointed head of a commission to administer it. In 1848 it became the property of the state.

 

The nucleus of the Louvre collections is the group of Italian Renaissance paintings—among them several by Leonardo da Vinci—which were owned by Francis I, a collector and patron of note. The holdings were significantly enriched by acquisitions made for the monarchy by Cardinal Richelieu and by Cardinal Mazarin, who was instrumental in purchasing works that had belonged to Charles I of England. Napoleon deposited in the Louvre the paintings and works of art seized during his European conquests; after his downfall, however, many of these works were restored to their original owners. Since that time increasing numbers of gifts, purchases, and finds brought back from archaeological expeditions have permanently enriched the museum. Among its greatest treasures are two of the most famous sculptures of the ancient world, the Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo, and Leonardo's famous portrait, Mona Lisa. The Louvre attractions also holds works by the other Italian masters Raphael and Titian and paintings by the northern artists Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt. Protection of all the Louvre's priceless masterpieces during the two world wars was effected by their removal to secret depositories outside Paris.

 

The collections of the museum are administered by seven curatorial departments. The Department of Egyptian Antiquities was formed in 1826 to study and display the objects brought back to France during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt. The Department of Oriental Antiquities is famed for its collections of Mesopotamian and Islamic art. Other departments include Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities; Objets d'art (including the crown jewels of France); and Drawings and Prints. The Department of Paintings, considered by many scholars the most important in the world, includes several thousand works of the various European schools. Its enormous collection of French paintings ranges from the Middle Ages to the early 19th century. Since 1986, however, works of the French impressionists and postimpressionists, many dating from 1848 to 1914 and formerly housed in the Musée du Jeu de Paume (Tennis Court Museum) adjacent to the Louvre, have been included in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay on the left bank of the Seine River.

 

In 1993 the Richelieu Wing was opened by President Mitterrand of France. The north wing of the Louvre Palace, formerly occupied by the Ministry of Finance, was vacated and transformed into exhibition areas. This ended the second phase of a project in progress since 1981 that included the addition of the glass pyramid entrance designed by American architect I.M. Pei, an auditorium, galleries for temporary exhibitions, displays on the history of the Louvre, moats of the medieval Louvre travel, restaurants, shops, and parking facilities.

 

Louvre {loov'-ruh} — a French palace and the national art museum of France.

 

Located in Paris, the Louvre is one of the largest palaces in the world and, as a former residence of the kings of France, one of the most illustrious. It exemplifies traditional French architecture since the Renaissance, and it houses a magnificent collection of ancient and Western art.

 

I.M. Pei pyramid and Sully wing of the Louvre


 
The Palace

 

The first Louvre was a fortress built at the beginning of the 13th century by Philip II Augustus to defend the Seine below Paris against the Normans and English. It consisted of a thick cylindrical donjon (dungeon) surrounded by towered walls. This château, enlarged and embellished by Charles V in the 14th century, was sacrificed in the 16th century at the end of the reign of Francis I in order to make room for a new Renaissance structure of the same size. Only the west wing and part of the south wing of the projected palace, conceived by the architect Pierre Lescot and decorated with sculptures by Jean Goujon, were finished.

 

In 1564 Catherine de Médicis had her architect, Philibert Delorme, build a little château in a neighboring field to the west called the Tuileries. It was then decided to create a grandiose royal residence by joining the Louvre tourism and the Palais des Tuileries by a series of buildings. The most important is the Grande Galerie built along the Seine in the reign of Henry IV.

 

       

Dusk view of I.M. Pei's pyramid in Louvre courtyard, with Arc du Carrousel in near background. Notice the Place de la Concorde, Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile, and the Grande Arche de la Défense in far upper right background.


 
In the 17th century Louis XIII and his minister Richelieu extended Lescot's west wing northward by adding the majestically domed Pavillon de l'Horloge (clock pavillion) by Jacques Lemercier and recreating Lescot's building beyond it. Under Louis XIV and his minister Colbert, the Cour Carrée, a great square court, was constructed by Louis Le Vau. The east façade of the east wing was later given a classical colonnade by Le Vau and Claude Perrault. The royal apartments were sumptuously decorated by Charles Le Brun and others, as the Galerie d'Apollon still bears witness. The Louvre was abandoned as a royal residence when Louis XIV moved the court to Versailles in 1682.

 

After the Revolution of 1789, Napoleon I, later kings, and Napoleon III lived in the Tuileries. The Louvre was used for offices and a museum. Along the Rue de Rivoli, Napoleon I began a wing parallel to that of Henry IV along the Seine. Napoleon III finished the wing, thus closing the great quadrilateral.

 

A few years later, during the uprising of the Paris Commune in 1871, the Tuileries was burned. Paradoxically, the disappearance of the Tuileries, which had originally brought about the extension of the Louvre attractions, opened the admirable perspective that now stretches from the Arc du Carrousel west through the Tuileries Gardens and the Place de la Concorde to the Place Charles de Gaulle.

 

Le Salon Carré, en 1865,
au Musée du Louvre
by Giuseppe Castiglione
Canvas - H 0,69 m ; L 1,03 m
(27"H x 40.5"W)


 
In the late 1980s the Louvre embarked upon an aggressive program of renovation and expansion. When the first plans by the Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei were unveiled in 1984, they included a glass pyramid in the central courtyard that would serve as the museum's main entrance. Despite drawing protests before the fact, since its opening in 1989 the pyramid has proven remarkably effective in accommodating the large numbers of visitors, and has even become a relatively beloved landmark of the city. In November 1993, to mark its 200th anniversary, the museum unveiled the Richelieu wing in the quarters that had been vacated, grudgingly, by the Ministry of Finance in 1989. This expansion, which completed the museum's occupancy of the palace complex, added 230,000 square feet (21,390 sq meters) to the existing 325,000 square feet (30,225 sq meters) of exhibition space, and allowed it to put an additional 12,000 works of art on display in 165 new rooms.

 

The Museum

 

In 1793, during the Revolution, the first state museum was opened in the Louvre, consisting of the former royal collections of painting and sculpture. It was enriched temporarily by loot from the Napoleonic wars and then permanently by purchases and gifts, including archaeological finds. More and more specialized divisions were created.

 

Projet d'aménagement de la Grande
Galerie du Louvre, vers 1789?
by Hubert Robert, 1796
Musée du Louvre  


 
The present Louvre tourism departments include Oriental (ancient Mesopotamian) antiquities; Egyptian antiquities; Greek and Roman antiquities; sculpture from the Middle Ages to modern times; furniture and objets d'art; and paintings representing all the European schools. A section of the museum is devoted to Islamic art.

 

Universally famous ancient works of art in the Louvre include a statuette of the Sumerian ruler Gudea, a stele bearing Hammurabi's code, an Egyptian painted stone statue of a scribe sitting cross-legged, the Venus de Milo, and the Victory of Samothrace. Among outstanding later works are two marble Slaves by Michelangelo, the treasure of the abbey of St. Denis, and the French crown diamonds. Important paintings include the Pietà of Avignon, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Veronese's immense Wedding at Cana (which was badly damaged in 1992 while being installed in the newly renovated galleries), and Watteau's Embarkation for Cythera.

 

The school of the Louvre trains curators in history of art and archaeology. Special exhibits are indicated in the Revue du Louvre.

 

Archaeological Discoveries

 

Traces of the medieval fortress from which the present day palace originates have been uncovered. Restoration work on the Cour Carrée and the excavation required for construction of the pyramid and the Carrousel area enabled archeological digs to be undertaken, and for the various phases of occupation of the palace and its quarters to be seen.

 

The architectural structures of the basement will henceforth be included in the visit tours. Thus, it is possible to walk along the moats of the medieval fortress under the Cour Carrée, to pass around the base of the dungeon to get to the Salle Saint-Louis (13th century), or — when going to the underground carpark — to walk along the so-called Charles V Moats.

 

Amongst the items discovered during these digs, one of the Louvre travel most remarkable is a parade helmet belonging to Charles VI, which was reconstituted from the one hundred and sixty-nine fragments which were found scattered about. It is on display in the Salle Saint-Louis (Sully Wing).

 

Admission

 

For those who plan to visit many monuments and museums during your séjour à Paris, Discover France offers the "Museums and Monuments Card" (Carte Musées et Monuments), valid for unlimited visits and priority access to approximately 70 locations in — and near — Paris. It can also be purchased at the Paris Tourist Office (127, avenue des Champs-Elysées), at its reception offices in certain Paris train stations, at the Eiffel Tower, in the major Métro stations, or at most of the 70 attractions. Cards are available in denominations valid for either one, three, or five consecutive days.

 

Louvre Museum Location and Contact Information:

 

General Access (individuals without tickets): Musée du Louvre, 1st arrondissement-- Porte des Lions, Galerie du Carrousel, or Pyramid entrances
Metro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (Line 1)
Bus: Lines 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95, and the Paris Open Tour bus all stop in front of the glass pyramid (the main entrance to the museum).



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