Paris Part 7:
Inside Musée du Louvre
(this is twice as long as any of the other sections so settle in with a croissant and espresso to properly explore)
The Louvre covers European and Mid-eastern antiquities and European art up to "1848" to quote the brochure. It also has a well presented smattering of things from other parts of the world in a hard to reach area at the far end of the Denon wing (floor 0 but you use floor 1 to get there).
When compared with other museums we visited in the city which have a similar focus, the Louvre usually has the best examples; not the most, but the cream.
From the entrance lobby you choose one of the 3 interconnecting wings: Sully, the base square on the east end, Denon, the wing south along the Seine and Richelieu, on the north. There are up to 4 floors of displays on each wing plus all sorts of multistep level changes on some of the floors (lifts are easy to find though so it is handicap accessable). Lines for the women's room are memorable. Usually the wait is shorter out in the museum rather than near the lobby.
We get asked what part of the _____ was your favorite? That's too hard a question. Here's our don't miss list: We agree on Mesopotamia (Sully floor 0 and 1; they brought in whole chunks of temples) and the long halls of massive paintings (Denon floor 1, more for the experience than any specific painting). Karen would add the new Islamic arts section (Denon floor -1) and the Napoleon III apartments etc. (Richeleiu floor 1; especially if you don't make it out to Versailles).
The following nearly 300 photos are presented with little commentary for you to flip through quickly and get an idea of the magnitude of this museum (yes, more than twice the number of any of the other sections: it's a big place).
Things are presented in about the order we saw them over the course of 5 wanders through the building. These are the things that struck us as interesting (and were in focus). We're sure your own experience will be different.
We started in the basement of the Sully wing at the foundation of the original castle upon which the Louvre was built.
|There's a very large Sphinx down here too, probably because that's where it could fit.|
A fast trot through some of the Greek antiquties upstairs
|and a bit of Egypt|
And a bit of Mesopotamia
|The basement of the Denon wing: Mediterranean and Islamic arts|
|Looking over a railing revealed another level lower, with expansive mosaics|
|The Islamic exhibit was in one of the courtyards created between the branches of the Denon's rectangular wings. It had been turned into interior space by the translucent fabric or fiberglass arched structure above us.|
occasional English labels
but mostly we had to translate from the French
|Now we're down at the mosaics' level|
|Easily 15 feet wide and more than 30 feet long...|
|exquisitely carved privacy screens|
|the ceiling of an ancient room, transported in pieces and reassembled years later.|
|And the ceiling of this portion of the Louvre|
|The usual crowds around a famous statue|
|the Winged Victory of Samothrace|
|Since the palace had been decorated to the kings and emperors' tastes,|
|simply watching the ceilings whilst trying to walk could keep us occupied for hours...|
|Napoleon being crowned, and crowning Josephine was a popular piece|
|Both the Denon and Richelieu buildings stretch for a mile|
|The most crowded room in the museum|
Some of Karen's favorite paintings, only previously seen as pictures in books. We didn't think they would be so large
|The occasional views ouside are to remind you the building is also on display.
During the Second Empire (mid 1800's), 86 "Famous Frenchmen" (scientists, historians, philosophers) were honored with statues
|Looking out from Denon over the Carrousel (beneath which is a shopping center)|
|...back to our task...|
|closer view of the other of the pair. We both like these a lot.
Paintings of paintings....
|One of the inner courtyards that has not yet been covered over|
|Statues at the ends of stairs in previous photo|
|Interior grand stairways|
|some boars get to rest indoors.|
|Did a collector like a particular archway? No problem... pack it up and send it home to Paris.|
|The first of several covered courtyards littered with statues...|
|in this case a pair of "horses restrained by grooms" from the Château de Marly.|
|Neptune pitched in...|
|Note dragons (Karen always notices dragons)|
|Fame is always fleeting...|
|Classical meets medieval|
|so over the top|
|Karen wanted the stairwell lamps.|
|Into the Apartments of Napoleon III|
|The Grand Salon...|
|... with grand ceiling of "The Reuniting of the Louvre and the Tuileries by Napoleon III."|
|.. and other assorted accomplishments.|
|his wife Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick, 16th Countess of Teba and 15th Marquise of Ardales (known more familiarily as Eugénie de Montijo)|
|State Dining Room|
|Almost at the west end of the building: there's the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. It was built around 1807 to commemorate Napoleon's military victories of 1805.
That's Peace riding the chariot on top, placed there after Waterloo and the Austrians reclaiming the statuary horses taken from Venice's Saint Mark's Cathedral in 1795.
|Some of Eugénie's jewelry, tiaras and crowns.
Part of the Louvre's collection of the French Crown Jewels.
|Inlayed stone table, wouldn't fit in luggage|
|A copy of Louis XVI's "Declaration to all the French". This rendition seemed to be printed on fabric.|
|Saint Michel vanquishing evil was an oft-repeated theme.|
|Karen was always drawn to stone (or jade) vessels.|
|Victory leading Napoleon|
|more inlayed stone|
|A long set of interlocking inlayed stone table tops that could be shortened as needed.|
|Going down this set of stairs|
We did a double take at the leaded windows.
|Back to the usual old stuff: Hades and Persephone|
|The enclosed courtyard "Cour Marly", featuring the Horses of Marly and other French-created classic statuary|
|A 13th century window depicting Scenes from the story of Saints Nicasius and Eutrope|
|... with Saint Blaise beside it|
|Cour Puget, the Richelieu building's other enclosed courtyard|
|Napoleon's crown (reused by Charles X 21 years later)|
|A glass chess board|
|With each square a 3-d box of flower shapes|
|Probably not what was meant by sans-coulottes|
|Karen likes these so you'll probably see more of them than you want to.|
|Back to the quietly decorated apartments|
|The sun and the planets...|
|In the days before television, you could just stare at the ceiling for a few weeks.|
|The only suit of armor we saw the entire trip.|
|... although there were a few individual pieces sprinkled around nearby|
|The old stables. We're back in an area we tore through the first day.|
|These were reproductions for sight-limited visitors to be able to feel the art|
The small section of art from the rest of the world has very nice signs. Informative even if you can't read the French paragraph of explanation below it.
|Congo, 18th to early 19th century|
Congo 19th century
|Columbia 11th to 15th century|
|Mexico or Central American|
|Mexico 15th to 16th century|
|..and then we resurfaced to ...|
|...the grand galleries|
|(with an occasional glimpse of the outside world)|
The jigsaw puzzle Karen had was bigger than the original!
|We've yet to make it down to that courtyard.|
|... and miles to go before we sleep ...|
|Out the window is the Carrousel traffic circle|
Early travel iIllustrations (Dick thinks he was there once)
|Karen frequently snaps photos of interesting tree branch and root patterns...|
|Brueghel's Le Feu (Fire), from a series of the four elements (two others are elsewhere in the museum)|
|As glimpsed from a Cour Puget overlook, we now enter Mesopotamia...|
|in the Cour Khorsabad|
|Maps of the palace and temple of Ishtar in Mari, Syria
The oldest item in the collection. She's almost as tall as Karen.
|Every so often, the Louvre's original function as a palace overcomes the collection. Karen was captured by these Lovely floors|
|... back to Mesopotamia (and how they accomplished their glasswork)|
|Cuneiform, 1140 BC
(while doing research for this website commentary, up popped the estimate that between half a million and two million cuneiform tablets have been excavated, of which only about 30,000 to 100,000 have been read or published. The British Museum holds the largest collection at 130,000 examples)
One of a pair of handles on an amphora
|These things are huge|
|..and some are small and delicate|
|We ranged further afield...
|And back to Egypt|
|Cats were popular before the Internet...|
|Everything but the mummies|
Another ceiling, transported nearly intact.
|French ceiling, Roman contents...|
|Mosaics in another glassed-in courtyard|
|Some items are reproductions ...
For the insatiably curious, you can access the Louvre's entire collection here
|The Neighborhood||Along the Seine
||North Loop||South to NE||Boise Vincennes & B. Boulogne||Versailles|
|Inside the Larger Museums:||Louvre||Arts Décoratifs||Orsay||Guimet (Asian art)||Quai Branly|
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all text and images copyright Karen and Dick Seymour 2012,
and may not be reproduced without written permission
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