Monday, April 1, 2013

Louvre Overview

In celebration of Easter, let's take a tour of the Louvre. It's a large museum, so we'll take all week to make it through, but hey, Easter is celebrated for a whole week, so why not.*

The Louvre is the most famous museum in Paris. Probably in France. Probably in the whole world. It has an extensive history. In 1190, a fortress was built to improve the city's defenses. What remains of the fort are found in the lowest level of the museum, along with some artifacts from that time period.

Original fortifications

Model of what it looked like back in the day

By the 1360s it became the royal palace under Charles V. Leonardo da Vinci came in 1516 at the invitation of Francois I. Da Vinci left behind the Mona Lisa among other works. The royal days ended in 1682 when Louis XIV moved out to Versailles. Then artists moved in and eventually it became a museum. During the Revolution, the treasures of the royal families and the executed aristocrats were displayed. When Napoleon conquer much of Europe, he took many art works from other countries and displayed them here (most were returned after Waterloo).

Under President Francois Mitterand the Louvre was greatly expanded in the 1980s, including the controversial addition of the glass pyramid designed by I. M. Pei. A popular myth is that it includes 666 glass panes. Actually, it has 673. The pyramid does provide plenty of light to the ticket area, which reminded me of the ticket plaza in Washington D.C.'s National Gallery of Art.

The Pyramid

The Pyramid from below looks pretty nice

The pyramid is a bit of a contrast to the buildings that surround it, which is the central issue for the controversy. It does seem out of place to me but it isn't such an eyesore or a horror. It could have been a lot worse.

By the entrance

Better with or without the glass pyramid?

Across from the pyramid is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. This smallest of the three arches of the Royal Axis (Arc de Triomphe and Grande Arche being the other two) was built by Napoleon in 1808 to commemorate his victories in Austria. The four horses on the top were from the San Marco cathedral in Venice, stolen by Napoleon during his conquests. They were returned and copies were made.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Arc

Also near the pyramid is a statue dedicated to Louis XIV.

Keeping Louis on a pedestal

Detail of statue

On the eastern side of the Louvre is Perrault's Colonnade, built by Claude Perrault and Louis Le Vau in the mid-1600s.

Perrault's Colonnade

Inside the Colonnade is the Cour Carree, a large courtyard set off from the main courtyard with the pyramid.

Entrance to the Cour Carree
Cour Carree

Cour Carree with scaffolding

View from the Cour Carree exit

As you might guess from the pictures, this is the way I went into the museum. Next post is the Grecian exhibit in the Louvre!

*You may think this is an April Fool's joke, but it is not. I do have six posts' worth of pictures and stories from the Louvre.

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