Louvre: Look Beyond the Art
I am one of millions who love the Louvre. It’s one of my top three museums, alongside The British Museum and The Vatican Museum. My love for the Louvre goes beyond the fabulous art that lines its halls. I adore the grand scale and architecture of the Louvre Palace. I relish in the stunning details within, from the breath-taking painted ceilings to the opulent marble fireplaces that still remain in its galleries, sharing a hint of the luxurious palace it once was.
I’ve been fortunate to visit the Louvre a few times. On my most recent visit, in the summer of 2015, I realized I’d seen the awesome artwork and stunning statues already. This time I went in search of more. I was drawn to the details, beyond the thousands of objects in its collection, I wanted to see the building itself in all its glory. So, I bring you my photo essay on the Louvre – Look Beyond the Art.
Locate in the heart of Paris the Louvre is a piece of the city’s history. Originally a fortress in the late 12th century, of which only a small portion can still be seen in the basement of the museum today. And built upon over the centuries, it then became a royal palace. And it wasn’t until 1793, during the French Revolution, that it became a public museum. The Louvre is now the world’s largest museum and also one of the most visited.
Then there’s the elephant in the room, or in this case standing between the two large wings of the museum outside. The large, glass Grand Pyramid. Created by architect I.M. Pei in the 1980’s to stand over the main entrance, it has caused plenty of controversy. Many hate it while others, like myself, love its blend of modern with the classic old.
Some of the Louvre’s most famous pieces cover everything from paintings to statues and include; The Raft of Medusa, Borghese Gladiator, the Winged Bulls of Mesopotamia (circa 700 B.C.), The Astronomer by Vermeer, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, The Coronation of Napoleon, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory of Samothrace. The most famous and most visited of the Louvre’s pieces is Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Did you know the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911 right off the wall it hung from?
My favourite piece has always been the same. From the moment I saw her perched upon one of the Louvre’s grand staircases, delicate yet bold, full of beauty and grace, I was bound. The marble statue, Winged Victory of Samothrace, or Nike as I would forever affectionately call her. To me she was the epitome of the perfect woman; graceful, beautiful, majestic, wise, brave and an explorer.
Louvre’s Galleries and Rooms
There’s something warm and alluring about a room shielded in dark wood panelling. And this one is exquisite! Housing part of the Egyptian collection, this room is home to the finest example of Renaissance wood panelling to be seen in Paris.
The Apollo Gallery
The room leading into it, the Rotonde d’Apollon, has a stunning ceiling depicting the Fall of Icarus. To the side stands a black iron door that is intricate and striking in its own right. Peeking through, as it was closed at the time of my visit, I was baffled by the spectacular splendour that lay behind it. The Apollo Galley is absolutely breath-taking, one of the grandest rooms in the Louvre. This gold glittering room served as the model for the Palace of Versailles Hall of Mirrors.
The Salon Carré, or Square Hall, is home to another fabulous ceiling that’s decorated with stuccoes by Simart and the mid-section is glass. I simply adore the detail in this room, from the angels to the strong men seemingly holding up the roof.
Salle des Caryatides
The Salle des Caryatides is striking no matter where you look. Even the art seems to set off the marvellous features of the room. This once grand reception room now houses Roman copies of Greek originals that are now lost. From the handsome ornate fireplace to remarkable piece above it and the imposing female columns, known as caryatids, to which the room got its name and were the first of their kind in France, make this room truly astounding.
Have you ever looked beyond the art in the Louvre?
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