Le Musée du Louvre

The Louvre. Is. Really. Spectacular.

Altogether the Louvre holds about 35,000 works of art, and has more than 645,000 square feet of exhibition space. We were there almost 4 hours, maybe saw 1,000 works of art, or less, and while we saw a lot we feel like we barely touched the surface. I think it is the most amazing building I have ever been in, and it is certainly, by far, the most amazing museum. It is hard to do justice to it with just a few pictures.

When it was first built, the Louvre was a palace, then it was a war headquarters, next it was a college-type place for art students, and now it is a museum.

2 arch

As you get closer to the main courtyard of the Louvre there is this arch, very similar to the Arc de Triomphe but smaller. When Napolean lived in the Louvre there was a statue of a horse on top which he could see from his bedroom window. Now it has been replaced by the statue shown.

4 courtyard traditional

Here is a typical view of the main courtyard of the Louvre. You can see the pyramid quite clearly. There was always this big debate about people thinking the pyramid was ugly and didn’t fit in with the Louvre. But having seen it with my own eyes I kind of like it. And in relation to the total size of the Louvre it is really quite small…

3 courtyard med-far

… because the farther away you get …

1 courtyard medium

… the smaller the pyramid seems, until…

1.2 louvre far

…it virtually disappears in relation to the hugeness of the Louvre.

inside pyramid

It’s kind of cool from the inside looking out as well.

They say the three most important works of art to see in the Louvre are the Wings of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa, and the Venus de Milo.

6 wings of samothrace

Here is the Wings of Samothrace. Actually the goddess Nike.

6.5 wings of samothrace

Of all the art we saw, this was my favorite by far.

7 mona lisa

Mona Lisa.
I have to say, with all due respect to Da Vinci, who I like a lot, this painting is totally lame. To see it, just follow the river of people going in that direction, then stand 10 deep behind the people waiting to get to the front. Then the actual painting is covered by glass, you can’t get closer than about 30 feet, and it’s nearly impossible to take any sort of decent picture of it. But on the other hand, if you go there you have to see it… 🙂

15 venus de milo

Venus de Milo.
She was found on the Greek island Melos, hence the name. However, there is a question about whether she is Aphrodite, goddess of love (known to the Romans as Venus), or Amphitrite, the sea goddess who was venerated on the island. The reason they don’t know for sure is because she has no arms or hands which would hold the attributes which would definitively determine who she is. She stands in a hallway and while there are tons of people around you can get a 360 degree view of her which is cool.

8 hallway, diana and nicole

Here is Nicole standing in one of the big galleries. The distance behind her to the end of the gallery is about half the total length of the room. The statue is Diana.

9 david and goliath front

This pair of paintings shows David and Goliath from this side, then you walk around to the back…

11 david and goliath back

…and it shows David and Goliath from the other side. By Ricciarelli.

12 awesome ceiling

This is a totally amazing ceiling in one of the rooms.

13 coronation of napolean

There was a gallery of large French paintings. Some of them were as big as the side of my house I think. I liked this one, the Coronation of Napolean, where he crowns Josephine queen. It takes place in Notre Dame and to the very right of the picture you can see the altar statue from Notre Dame.

14 coronation of napolean

Here is a close-up of the middle. The lady sitting in the upper left corner is supposed to be Napolean’s mom. I guess she did not like Josephine but she got a big spot in the painting anyway. There is another copy of this painting at Versailles.

16 medieval moat

So we got tired of paintings after awhile and we walked through this life size medieval moat.

17 egyptian

Then we went to see some Egyptian stuff. I think these are Sekhmet.

18 egyptian

More Egyptian.

Then we got lost. Eventually we made our way through some Etruscan galleries, and the Dutch paintings to see Vermeer.

19 marly horses

At the end we went out through the Richelieu wing where they have a mini-pyramid and underneath it a beautiful courtyard full of more sculpture. This is one of the Marly horses.

We really enjoyed our day at the Louvre. I think sculpture is the most amazing because they have to leave the stone that comes toward you in space, carve out the stone that goes away from you, and make the whole thing work in three dimensions.

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