Here they come every year nine million people who flock to see the Gioconda, there Venus and the Nike. And there is only one place in the world where so much beauty is concentrated: it is in the museum of Louvre from Paris. And there is nothing more to add. This huge space full of charm and history is in fact among the very first destinations of anyone arriving in the French capital. And it is right that this is the case even if this, which is the most visited museum in the world is also considered by many to be the most beautiful and important, but it is easily lost. Because it is not easy to tackle so many masterpieces in one fell swoop. And don’t go out stunned after driving miles between thirty-five thousand exhibits (of the 380 thousand that make up the overall fund of which 11,900 paintings). That is why it is useful to prepare a guide on what to see in the Louvre. Remembering that however, to visit it all, it takes several days. And good shoes.
Careful planning of the visit, therefore, is essential: scroll down these notes, find out and decide what to see in the Louvre and then choose the one of the eight sections that most attracts your attention and satisfies your tastes. Remember that here it ranges fromancient art, Egyptian, Greek and Roman, to the painting of Italian Renaissance and to Spanish schools, Flemish and of course French. In short, there really is something for everyone.
What to see in the Louvre: from fortress to museum of records
The Louvre of Paris it was originally built as a fortress around the year 1200 and was rebuilt again around 1650 as king’s palace. However, it was in 1793 that i French revolutionaries, after canceling the monarchy, they decided that this should become the first French national museum. To accumulate the bulk of the works were Francis I. And Louis XIV but also Napoleon, who used to strip the countries where he arrived as a conqueror, contributed decisively to creating the museum we know. Obviously, a similar number of masterpieces hide an infinite number of stories.
Just think, just to name one, that in 1911 The Gioconda ago stolen by a museum employee, Vincenzo Pietro Peruggia, who simply took it and carried it to his attic. She was found after two years and the man justified himself by saying he wanted to sell her to Uffizi in Florence to give prestige to Italy. Whether it was true is not known: but he was granted mental illness anyway.
What to see in the Louvre: beyond the pyramid
The entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris it’s a glass pyramid, one of the best known symbols of the city so much so that it has become a tourist attraction in itself. And no one can resist taking a selfie in front of this glass and steel structure.
As we said then there are different sections that represent the different souls of the collections: once you go down the pyramid you will arrive at what is called Hall Napoleon from where you can go to the three main wings of the museum which obviously bear important names: the one dedicated to Richelieuthe one of Sully and the one entitled to Denon. However, the ticket is unique. By choosing Richelieu you will be taken immediately between the brushstrokes of French paintersFlemish and Nordic from the period up to the seventeenth century but also with splendid examples of sculpture.
Between the East and Greece
The Denon wing instead it leads to an itinerary among the ancient arts ofOrient and of Greece, Roman and Etruscan but also of Egypt and Italian and Spanish painting. So theSully wingagain briefly, it contains other Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Middle Eastern antiquities and drawings and engravings.
In short, the list of what to see in the Louvre is almost endless: that’s why you can only try to draw up a list of unmissable things to which you can dedicate a part of your visit. Before a necessary stop to relax in one of the many brasserie in the city.
What to see in the Louvre: the Venus symbol of beauty
Let’s start with one of the symbols of Greek art: the Venus from Milodiscovered in 1820 in a field on the island of Cyclades. It is located in room 7 of theSully wing and represents a model ofGreek ideal of beauty and comes to us from 100 BC.
It is partially mutilated but remains one of the great masterpieces of Hellenistic period: What makes this statue a masterpiece is the balanced composition, the sense of space and the way the drapery falls on its hips. Some believe that he may have held an apple, a shield or a crown in his hand. Another hypothesis is that Venus raised a mirror to admire her own beauty.
Her Majesty the Mona Lisa
You cannot offer a guide on what to see in the Louvre without naming it Mona Lisaor the Mona Lisa by Leonardo located in room 6 of theDenon wing. On the other hand, many visitors come to the Louvre just to see this painting which is probably the most famous work of art in the museum. The result is that the small painting, protected by a plexiglass sheet, is constantly surrounded by a crowd of tourists. And it’s not easy to see it calmly. For those who love history: the woman portrayed is believed to be Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine merchant named Francesco del Giocondo. But of this there is no certainty.
Always remaining in the magical world ofItalian art you can’t miss the picture of Paolo Veronese said of the Wedding of Canaa located in room 6 of theDenon wing and occupies an entire wall of the gallery, from floor to ceiling. Veronese created this sumptuous painting in 1553 a Venice. The composition depicts the biblical scene of the wedding feast in which Christ performed the miracle of transforming water into wine.
Veronese created an extraordinary scene made up of over 100 figures which appear arranged with a unique harmony and with an extraordinary attention to detail. The funniest game is to look for the curious figures like the dwarf, the parrot and a cat that wanders through the crowd.
The masterpiece of Hellenism: Nike
There Nike of Samothrace is a masterpiece ofHellenistic art and is located on the Escalier Daru, a staircase leading to the first floor of the museum. Sculpted around 190 BC, the goddess of the Vittorialata was found on the island of Samothrace but historians believe that the monument was a religious offering from the people of Rhodes in commemoration of an important naval victory. The goddess is depicted as being on the prow of a ship sailing through strong winds and her composition has a spiral effect that creates a sense of movement, with her wings held back and her right leg placed in front of the left. A breeze seems to blow her clothes between her legs, which gives the sculpture an extraordinary sense of realism.
What to see in the Louvre: Napoleon’s house
We are in Franceto Paris: we can forget Napoleon? Of course not. And therefore in our list dedicated to what necessarily to see in the Louvre must be the painting that tells, in fact, “The coronation of Napoleon “ painted by Jacques-Louis David and which is found inDenon wing in room 75. The history of the work is well known: Napoleon commissioned this monumental painting from Jacques-Louis David as a testimony to his coronation ceremony which took place in May 1804 after a coup d’état decided following his victorious military campaigns in Italy and in Egypt.
The painter participated in the coronation ceremony and therefore represented the event with impeccable details but the purpose was also another: to convey a symbolic and political message, glorifying Napoleon to give him a unique place in history. Another David’s masterpiece is in the same room: it is the famous “Oath of the Horatii”, Considered one of the posters Pictorial Neoclassicism.
The history of France and Delacroix
Let’s continue with another classic of French art history: the painting called “Freedom leads the people” from Eugène Delacroix (we are inDenon wing in room 77). This exceptional painting illustrates one of the most important events in French history: the Parisian revolt of 27, 28 and 29 July 1830 known as “The three glorious days “ when the Republicans led a revolt against the government of Second Republic guilty, they say, of having violated the Constitution.
The creation of this work was in practice a patriotic act, since Delacroix he believed passionately in the republican cause and used an allegorical style in which the Freedomrepresented as a woman with naked breasts, holds a French flag high in her hand as the revolutionaries march through the streets of Paris in a scene of strong and dramatic realism.
As we said, there are many extraordinary works in the Louvre. But probably among all the neoclassical sculptures preserved in the gallery Pavillon de Flore the group of Love and Psyche from Antonio Canova it is perhaps the most charming and romantic. This sculpture is inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphosis and it represents Psyche falling into a magical sleep for having drunk a potion. Love gently approaches Psyche to kiss her and she wakes up and languidly embraces Love. Antonio Canova created a piece full of emotions, typical of romantic neoclassical sculpture but with a realism that still leaves you speechless today.
What to see in the Louvre: Vermeer’s lace.
We can’t stop any longer. Our guide of what to see in the Louvre among the masterpieces not to be missed takes us to room 38 of thewing Richelieu where is the Jan Vermeer lacemaker. Not by chance Renoir he regarded this as “one of the most beautiful paintings in the world”. The lace motif was often used in Dutch paintingsi to symbolize traditional feminine virtues and Vermeer loved to paint scenes of everyday life depicting familiar objects in an intense way. The young woman (most likely Vermeer’s wife) is shown concentrating on her work with the lace being the focal point of the work as the other objects fade. Also Van Gogh praised this painting for its harmonious blend of colors.
Finally we close with another masterpiece ofItalian art which is necessarily part of the list dedicated to what to see in the Louvre: it is the “Coronation of the Virgin” of the Fra Angelico which we find in room 3 of the Denon wing.
Guido di Pietrocalled Beato Angelico, painted this exceptional altarpiece between 1430 and 1432 for one of the altars of the convent of San Domenico in Fiesoleout Florence. The theme of the coronation of the Virgin was very common in art during the 13th century but Fra Angelico’s version is unique thanks to a careful use of colors. One detail to note: Christ is shown seated above the multitude on a throne accessed by marble steps. Notice how the painter painted the nine marble steps in different colors.
Our little journey ends here. The works of the Louvre instead they continue. To see it all, we repeat, it would take days. But in the face of so many beauties it would be a shame to stop and not continue. If you then want to know how avoid the queueshow to choose the better times and where to stop for one snack click here. And Paris will reveal one of its many wonders.