The Louvre
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The Louvre Museum
Rick Archer, May 2007




In January 2007, a friend named Gary Richardson emailed a Power Point document to me.  The presentation was amazing.  It contained 48 stunning photographs of the Louvre Museum and the famous works of art displayed there.

The photography so wonderful that I decided I wanted to share the photographs. Thus this page was created.

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


The Louvre was originally built in the 12th century as a royal castle to help defend Paris against Viking, Norman, and English attacks. It went through many metamorphoses until it was finally opened as a museum of art in 1793 shortly after the end of the French Revolution. The complex of buildings was turned over entirely to art and culture in 1882, when the Tuileries (the Palace of the French monarchy) was demolished. The Louvre became one of the world's largest and most popular art galleries and museums, housing masterpieces like Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and Whistler's Mother.


The museum building was originally a royal fortress and palace built by Philip II in the late 12th century.

In 1546 Pierre Lescot was commissioned by Francis I to erect a new building on the site of the Louvre. During his reign, several paintings by Leonardo, including the Mona Lisa, and works of other Italian masters came into the royal collections. In 1564, Catherine de' Medici commissioned Philibert Delorme to build a residence at the Tuileries and to connect it to the Louvre by a long gallery. The Grande Galerie was completed in 1606 under Henri IV.

While Cardinal Richelieu collected art with state funds, work on the buildings was continued under Louis XIII. Lescot's architectural designs were expanded by Jacques Lemercier in 1624, and under Louis XIV the magnificent colonnade was brought to completion (1670) by Louis Le Vau and Claude Perrault. In 1750 part of the royal collections was put on view in the Luxembourg palace. In 1793 the Musée Central des Arts was created by decree and the Grande Galerie of the Louvre was officially opened. For many years the area beneath the Grande Galerie served as artists' studios and workshops.

HISTORY continued

Napoleon I added vastly to its collections by his conquests, and in 1803 the museum was proclaimed the Musée Napoléon. Many famous works were returned after his downfall. The grand architectural scheme of the Louvre was completed by Napoleon III. The museum is famous for its enormous collection of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities, and for its superb old masters, a collection especially rich in works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, and Leonardo. Its most famous sculptures include the Nike, or Victory, of Samothrace and the Venus of Milo. A part of the museum building houses the Museum of Decorative Arts, a private institution.

In 1984 excavations began for the gradual expansion of the Louvre underground; construction was completed in 1993. A glass pyramid, designed by I. M. Pei and opened in 1989, sits atop the entrance to this new space. At first the pyramid caused considerable controversy between critics who considered it a defacement of the museum and those who judged it a continuation of the eclecticism of Parisian architecture; it has since become a nearly universally acclaimed landmark. Pei has also overseen the extensive renovations and expansions of exhibition space that have continued through the 1990s.



Thanks to the Da Vinci Code, Louvre Museum Experiences Record Year in 2006

PARIS, Jan. 3, 2006

(AP) The Louvre Museum in Paris had a record number of visitors in 2005, with successful soirees for young people, crowd-pleasing exhibitions and promotion from "The Da Vinci Code," a top administrator said Tuesday.

About 7.3 million people visited the art museum in 2005, up from 6.7 million in 2004 — the previous record — general administrator Didier Selles told The Associated Press. Definitive 2005 figures are expected in coming weeks.

Selles said Dan Brown's mystical thriller "The Da Vinci Code" was in part responsible for drawing fans to the Louvre, though likely "not in gigantic proportions." Some travel companies offer "Da Vinci Code" tours that make stops at the Louvre.

The museum expects more dramatic results starting this spring, when Oscar-winning director Ron Howard's movie based on the novel debuts.

"There is perhaps a 'Da Vinci Code' effect, but in my opinion it will be truly stronger when the film comes out," Selles said in a telephone interview.


The movie stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, and was shot partly in the Louvre. In one of the story line's opening scenes, the Louvre curator is murdered and discovered naked, arms and legs outstretched, with a five-pointed star drawn on his chest in blood. The murder leads to the search for the so-called Da Vinci code.

"The movie's producers are considering hosting the European premiere for the film at the Louvre, but they also might opt for the Cannes Film Festival in May", Selles said.

Another factor in the booming attendance was Friday night soirees that are free for those under age 26. The Louvre also made efforts to cut down on waits for visitors.


"It is rare today, except in very, very crowded periods, to have to wait more than 15 minutes to get into the museum, with (lines for) the coatroom included," Selles said. More galleries have also been opened up to the public. In 2001, 25 percent of the Louvre's rooms were closed, compared to 13 percent now.

Two successful exhibits in 2005 included a show on Romanesque art from France, which drew 205,000 visitors, and a retrospective on the Romantic painter Anne-Louis Girodet, which brought in 150,000 people and is traveling next to the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

"About one-fourth of everyone who visits Paris makes a stop at the Louvre", Selles said. One-third of the visitors to the Louvre are French, and Americans are next, at about 18-20 percent.

In 2004, Chinese tourists made up 4 percent of visitors —  ahead of the Japanese for the first time, who made up 3.5 percent.


We are about to view displaying many of the Louvre paintings and sculptures.

The Power Point presentation did not offer names.  Therefore I did have a clue who drew most of these paintings when I created this page.  I spent a couple hours on the Internet looking for thumbnails of the treasures at the Louvre, but didn't have much luck.  I was only able to track down a few. 

However, as I poked around, I was able to realize just how famous some of these paintings are.  I imagine people with more knowledge of the art world might be able to help. 

So let's make a game of it.  If one of you art majors manages to spot a few, please tell me their names!  I would be most appreciative.  In addition, I will add your name beside the painting/sculpture that you were able to identify for me. 

Rick Archer
Please note I have put numbers next to each painting; don't forget to add them when you email me.

April 2011 Update:

Many Thanks to the following seven people who have contributed titles that were missing:

1. Lourdes Fernandez, July 2007
2. Rebecca, July 2007
3. Jan Davis, September 2007
4. Olga Milner, October 2007
5. Anna Anderson, July 2010 and February 2011 (5 more titles!)
6. Trevor Robinson, December 2010
7. Meghan Martinez, April 2011

001. The Aphrodite of Milos, better known as the Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture.

It is believed to depict Aphrodite (called Venus by the Romans), the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It is a marble sculpture, slightly larger than life size at 203 cm (80 inches) high. Its arms and original plinth have been lost. From an inscription on its now-lost plinth, it is thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch; it was earlier mistakenly attributed to the master sculptor Praxiteles.

It is at present on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The statue was discovered in 1820 inside a buried niche within the ancient city ruins of Milos on the Aegean island of the same name, also called Melos or Milo, by a peasant named Yorgos Kentrotas.

The statue's great fame in the 19th century was not simply the result of its admitted beauty, but also owed much to a major propaganda effort by the French authorities. In 1815 France had returned the Medici Venus to the Italians after it had been looted from Italy by Napoleon Bonaparte. The Medici Venus, regarded as one of the finest Classical sculptures in existence, caused the French to consciously promote the Venus de Milo as a greater treasure than that which they had recently lost. It was duly praised by artists and critics as the epitome of graceful female beauty.

002. The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called Nike of Samothrace, is a marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory).  It was discovered in April 1863 on the island of Samothrace by the French consul and amateur archaeologist Charles Champoiseau. The statue was sent to Paris the same year, and since 1884 has dominated the Daru staircase displayed in the Louvre. Simultaneously a plaster replica stands in the museum at the original location of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace.

The Victory is one of the great surviving masterpieces of sculpture from the Hellenistic period, despite the fact that the figure is significantly damaged, missing its head and outstretched arms. By an unknown artist, (presumably Rhodian in origin), the sculpture is thought to date from the period 220 to 190 BC. Champoiseau, when he first published the Victory considered that it was erected by the Macedonian general Demetrius I Poliorcetes after his naval victory at Cyprus between 295 and 289 BC, and the Samothrace Archaeological Museum continues to follow Champoiseau's provenance and dates.[3] Ceramic evidence discovered in recent excavations has revealed that the pedestal was set up about 200 BC, though some scholars still date it as early as 250 BC or as late as 180.[4] Certainly, the parallels with figures and drapery from the Pergamon Altar (dated about 170 BC) seem strong.

A partial inscription on the base of the statue includes the word "Rhodhios" (Rhodes), indicating that the statue was commissioned to celebrate a naval victory by Rhodes, at that time the most powerful maritime state in the Aegean. This would date the statue to 288 BC at the earliest.

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