Musée du Louvre( Louvre )
The Louvre (English: LOOV(-rə)), or the Louvre Museum (French: Musée du Louvre [myze dy luvʁ] (listen)), is the world's most-visited museum, and an historic landmark in Paris, France. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. 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). At any given point in time, approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are being exhibited over an area of 72,735 square meters (782,910 square feet). Attendance in 2021 was 2.8 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic, up five percent...Read more
The Louvre (English: LOOV(-rə)), or the Louvre Museum (French: Musée du Louvre [myze dy luvʁ] (listen)), is the world's most-visited museum, and an historic landmark in Paris, France. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. 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). At any given point in time, approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are being exhibited over an area of 72,735 square meters (782,910 square feet). Attendance in 2021 was 2.8 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic, up five percent from 2020, but far below pre-COVID attendance. Nonetheless, the Louvre still topped the list of most-visited art museums in the world in 2021.
The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. Remnants of the Medieval Louvre 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. 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. 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. 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. The Louvre exhibits sculptures, objets d'art, paintings, drawings, and archaeological finds.
The Louvre Palace, which houses the museum, was begun 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 the Medieval Louvre are still visible in the crypt.: 32 Whether this was the first building on that spot is not known, and it is possible that Philip modified an existing tower.
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). 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, even though it is doubtful that this land corresponded exactly to the present site of the Louvre.
The Louvre Palace has been subject to numerous renovations since its construction. 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. 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.: 42  For example, four generations of craftsmen-artists from the Boulle family were granted Royal patronage and resided in the Louvre.
Meanwhile, the collections of the Louvre originated in the acquisitions of paintings and other artworks by the monarchs of the House of France. At the Palace of Fontainebleau, Francis collected art that would later be part of the Louvre's art collections, including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
The Cabinet du Roi consisted of seven rooms west of the Galerie d'Apollon on the upper floor of the remodeled Petite Galerie. Many of the king's paintings were placed in these rooms in 1673, when it became an art gallery, accessible to certain art lovers as a kind of museum. In 1681, after the court moved to Versailles, 26 of the paintings were transferred there, somewhat diminishing the collection, but it is mentioned in Paris guide books from 1684 on, and was shown to ambassadors from Siam in 1686.
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. Under Louis XVI, the idea of a royal museum in the Louvre came closer to fruition. 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-reliefs 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.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". 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.
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". 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).: 68-69 To expand and organize the collection, the Republic dedicated 100,000 livres per year. 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".
The early days were hectic. Privileged artists continued to live in residence, and the unlabeled paintings hung "frame to frame from floor to ceiling". 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. 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 just below the Galerie d'Apollon.Napoleonic era
On 19 November 1802, Napoleon appointed Dominique Vivant Denon, a scholar and polymath who had participated in the Egyptian campaign of 1798–1801, as the museum's first director, in preference to alternative contenders such as antiquarian Ennio Quirino Visconti, painter Jacques-Louis David, sculptor Antonio Canova and architects Léon Dufourny or Pierre Fontaine. On Denon's suggestion in July 1803, the museum itself was renamed Musée Napoléon.: 79
The collection grew through successful military campaigns.: 52 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. 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. 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. 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, 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.
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.: 69  In 1815 Louis XVIII finally concluded agreements with the Austrian government 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
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. In 1819 an exhibition of manufactured products was opened in the first floor of the Cour Carrée's southern wing and would stay there until the mid-1820s.: 87 Charles X in 1826 created the Musée Égyptien 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 Edmé-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 created an exhibition of ship models in the Louvre in December 1827, initially named musée dauphin in honor of Dauphin Louis Antoine, building on an 18th-century initiative of Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau. This collection, renamed musée naval in 1833 and later to develop into the Musée national de la Marine, 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.Rooms of the Musée Charles X
Salle des Colonnes
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 ground-floor gallery north of the eastern entrance of the Cour Carrée. The Assyrian Museum opened on 1 May 1847. 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, 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 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 (former site of the iconic yearly Salon) and of the Grande Galerie.: 52 In 1848, the Naval Museum in the Cour Carrée's attic was brought under the common Louvre Museum management, 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.: 52-54 In the 1860s, Lefuel also led the creation of the pavillon des Sessions with a new Salle des Etats closer 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 decoration of the salle des Empereurs below the Salon carré.
Entrance to a section of the Musée Napoléon III from the salle des séances, then a double-height space
Galerie Daru, part of the New Louvre building program under Napoleon III
Salle Daru above the galerie Daru, also created under Napoleon III
Escalier Mollien in the New Louvre
Salle des Empereurs
The Louvre narrowly escaped serious damage 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 Bergeretset 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.
Following the end of the monarchy, several spaces in the Louvre's South Wing went to the museum. The Salle du Manège was transferred to the museum in 1879, and in 1928 became its main entrance lobby. The large Salle des Etats that had been created by Lefuel between the Grande Galerie and Pavillon Denon was redecorated in 1886 by Edmond Guillaume, Lefuel's successor as architect of the Louvre, and opened as a spacious exhibition room. Edomond Guillaume also decorated the first-floor room at the northwest corner of the Cour Carrée, on the ceiling of which he placed in 1890 a monumental painting by Carolus-Duran, The Triumph of Marie de' Medici originally created in 1879 for the Luxembourg Palace.
Meanwhile, during the Third Republic (1870–1940) the Louvre acquired new artefacts mainly via donations, gifts, and sharing arrangements on excavations abroad. The 583-item Collection La Caze, donated in 1869 by Louis La Caze, included works by Chardin; Fragonard, Rembrandt and Watteau.: 70-71 In 1883, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which had been found in the Aegean Sea in 1863, was prominently displayed as the focal point of the Escalier Daru.: 70-71 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 Société des amis du Louvre was established in 1897 and donated prominent works, such as the Pietà of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. The expansion of the museum and its collections slowed after World War I, however, despite some prominent acquisitions such as Georges de La Tour's Saint Thomas and Baron Edmond de Rothschild's 1935 donation of 4,000 prints, 3,000 drawings, and 500 illustrated books.
From the late 19th century, the Louvre gradually veered away from its mid-century ambition of universality to become a more focused 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. As the Musée de Marine was increasingly constrained to display its core naval-themed collections in the limited space it had in the second-floor attic of the northern half of the Cour Carrée, many of its significant holdings of non-Western artefacts were transferred in 1905 to the Trocadéro ethnography museum, the National Antiquities Museum in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and the Chinese Museum in the Palace of Fontainebleau. The Musée de Marine itself was relocated to the Palais de Chaillot in 1943. The Louvre's extensive collections of Asian art were moved to the Guimet Museum in 1945. Nevertheless, the Louvre's first gallery of Islamic art opened in 1922.
In the late 1920s, Louvre Director Henri Verne devised a master plan for the rationalization of the museum's exhibitions, which was partly implemented in the following decade. In 1932–1934, Louvre architects Camille Lefèvre and Albert Ferran redesigned the Escalier Daru to its current appearance. The Cour du Sphinx in the South Wing was covered by a glass roof in 1934. Decorative arts exhibits were expanded in the first floor of the North Wing of the Cour Carrée, including some of France's first period room displays. In the late 1930s, The La Caze donation was moved to a remodeled Salle La Caze above the salle des Caryatides, with reduced height to create more rooms on the second floor and a sober interior design by Albert Ferran.
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. 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". In early 1945, after the liberation of France, art began returning to the Louvre.
New arrangements after the war revealed the further evolution of taste away from the lavish decorative practices of the late 19th century. In 1947, Edmond Guillaume's ceiling ornaments were removed from the Salle des Etats, where the Mona Lisa was first displayed in 1966. Around 1950, Louvre architect Jean-Jacques Haffner streamlined the interior decoration of the Grande Galerie. In 1953, a new ceiling by Georges Braque was inaugurated in the Salle Henri II, next to the Salle La Caze. In the late 1960s, seats designed by Pierre Paulin were installed in the Grande Galerie. In 1972, the Salon Carré's museography was remade with lighting from a hung tubular case, designed by Louvre architect Marc Saltet with assistance from designers André Monpoix , Joseph-André Motte and Paulin.
In 1961, the Finance Ministry accepted to leave the Pavillon de Flore at the southwestern end of the Louvre building, as Verne had recommended in his 1920s plan. 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.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.: 66
The open spaces surrounding the pyramid were inaugurated on 15 October 1988, and its underground lobby was opened on 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.
As of 2002, the Louvre's visitor count had doubled from its pre-Grand-Louvre levels.
The Napoleon Courtyard and I. M. Pei's pyramid in its center, at dusk.
President Jacques Chirac, who had succeeded Mitterrand in 1995, insisted on the return of non-Western art to the Louvre, upon a recommendation from his friend the art collector and dealer Jacques KerchachePavillon des Sessions and opened in 2000, six years ahead of the Musée du Quai Branly itself.. On his initiative, a selection of highlights from the collections of what would become the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac was installed on the ground floor of the
The main other initiative in the aftermath of the Grand Louvre project was 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 prior underground location in the Richelieu Wing to a more prominent site in the Denon Wing. That new section opened on 22 September 2012, together with collections from the Roman-era Eastern Mediterranean, with financial support from the Al Waleed bin Talal Foundation and on a design by Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti.
In 2010, American painter Cy Twombly completed a new ceiling for the Salle des Bronzes (the former Salle La Caze), a counterpoint to that of Braque installed in 1953 in the adjacent Salle Henri II. The room's floor and walls were redesigned in 2021 by Louvre architect Michel Goutal to revert the changes made by his predecessor Albert Ferran in the late 1930s, triggering protests from the Cy Twombly Foundation on grounds that the then-deceased painter's work had been created to fit with the room's prior decoration.
On 6 June 2014, the Decorative Arts section on the first floor of the Cour Carrée's northern wing opened after comprehensive refurbishment.
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.
The Pavillon des Sessions's display of non-Western art from the Musée du Quai Branly, opened in 2000
The Cour Visconti's ground floor covered to host the new Islamic Art Department in 2012
Islamic art display in the covered Cour Visconti, 2012
Underground display of the Islamic Art Department, 2012