Louvre, Paris

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  • Louvre Museum, Paris, France
    Louvre Museum, Paris, France
    by Parisforless
  • The Lady with an Ermine by da Vinci.
    The Lady with an Ermine by da Vinci.
    by breughel
  • Louvre
    by Arial_27
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    by breughel Updated Apr 23, 2014

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    Entrances for individual visitors:

    Visitor with advance tickets (including Paris Museum Pass): entrance via the Pyramid without having to queue.

    Holders of one of the Louvre member passes: Passage Richelieu entrance.
    This includes members of the Société des Amis du Louvre and the American Friends of the Louvre, as well as holders of the Carte Louvre Jeunes and the Carte Louvre Professionnels.
    Members of partner organizations and companies can also use these entrances on presentation of their passes.

    Visitors without advance tickets or member passes: Pyramid, Porte des Lions or Galerie du Carrousel entrances.

    Entrance for visitors with special needs:

    Disabled visitors and visitors with mobility impairments can enter directly at the Pyramid entrance, without having to queue.

    Entrances for groups:

    Groups of adults with their own guide or lecturer must enter either by the Passage Richelieu or the Galerie du Carrousel.
    Groups that already have a reservation, an authorized tour guide sticker, and tickets may enter the museum directly.
    If a group does not have an advance reservation, the group leader should go alone to the group reception desk to make a reservation, acquire a tour guide sticker, and purchase the necessary tickets.

    Groups of adults, or groups of young people accompanied by adults, who have made reservations for a lecture or a workshop should also enter by the Passage Richelieu or the Galerie du Carrousel.
    At the entrance, the group must present the reservation form issued by the museum. They may then proceed to the group reception desk to get their tickets.

    On the contrary of my previous review and experience (August 2013) visitors without advance tickets or member passes can also enter by the Porte des Lions (not on Friday and evenings with nocturnes) or Galerie du Carrousel entrances.

    Here the most recent official links in French and English: http://www.louvre.fr/comment-venir and http://www.louvre.fr/en/getting-here

    Visiteurs Individuels
    Les visiteurs sans titre d'accès doivent emprunter les entrées de la Pyramide, de la Porte des Lions (sauf le vendredi et les soirs de nocturnes) et l'entrée du Carrousel.
    Les visiteurs avec un billet ont un accès par l'entrée de la Pyramide avec une file réservée.
    Les visiteurs porteurs de cartes (adhérents, enseignants, les partenariats et les mécènes) ont un accès par l'entrée du passage Richelieu.

    Visiteurs en groupe
    Les groupes d'adultes ayant leur propre guide ou conférencier doivent emprunter les entrées du passage Richelieu ou du Carrousel.
    S'ils possèdent leur ticket de réservation ou leur numéro de réservation, le sticker du droit de parole et les billets du droit d'entrée, ils peuvent accéder sans attendre aux collections.
    Si le groupe n'a pas effectué de réservation, seul le responsable de groupe est autorisé à se rendre à l'accueil des groupes afin de retirer sa réservation, son droit de parole ainsi que les billets d'entrée.
    Le passage Richelieu est ouvert jusqu'à 18h30 les soirs de nocturne, 17h30 les autres jours. L'accès s'effectue alors par les entrées du Carrousel ou de la Pyramide.

    Les groupes d'adultes et les groupes de jeunes encadrés par des adultes ayant réservé une conférence, un atelier avec un conférencier ou un intervenant du musée, doivent emprunter l'entrée du passage Richelieu ou du Carrousel.
    Ils doivent alors présenter aux agents postés aux accès la feuille de réservation émise par le musée afin de pouvoir rejoindre avec leur groupe l'espace de l'accueil des groupes où ils s'aquitteront de leur visite et des billets du droit d'entrée.

    Visiteurs en situation de handicap.
    Les visiteurs handicapés ou à mobilité réduite bénéficient d'un accès prioritaire à l'entrée de la Pyramide.

    Visiteurs munis de cartes/billets.
    L'accès est privilégié et sans attente par le passage Richelieu, pour les porteurs de cartes : Amis du Louvre, carte Louvre jeunes, carte Louvre professionnels, Carte American Friends of the Louvre, partenariats particuliers (sur présentation de ladite carte), mécènes.

    L'accès pour les visiteurs munis de billets et de Paris Museum Pass se fait par l'entrée de la pyramide avec une file réservée.

    Line at Le Louvre Pyramid.
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    The DNA of Mona Lisa - La Joconde.

    by breughel Updated Aug 12, 2013

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    Last week (9/08/2013) in the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata in Florence the team of historian Silvano Vinceti opened the family tomb of Francesco del Giocondo, whose wife Lisa Gherardini might have been the model for Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting the Mona Lisa.

    Scientists hope to trace the family DNA - the two sons of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo are buried in this tomb - and compare them with those of three women buried in the St. Ursula convent not far away. The remains of one of the three, including a skull, could be those of Lisa Gherardini.
    If a correspondence is established between the DNA a facial reconstruction could be made starting from that skull and compare it with the Joconde of the Louvre to find out if the model for the Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci was really Lisa Gherardini or not.

    Maybe that Mona Lisa was just a representation from the imagination of the painter?

    Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo ?
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    by breughel Updated Feb 5, 2014

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    NEVER GO TO LE LOUVRE WITHOUT BUYING YOUR TICKET IN ADVANCE. You will be lining up, sometimes a several hundred meter long line and maybe in the rain like you will see from my photos on a Sunday of end August at the Pyramid.

    But where to buy your tickets in advance?
    On the contrary of the Musée d'Orsay you CAN NOT PRINT AT HOME THE TICKETS BOUGHT ONLINE on the:
    TicketWeb (permanent collections), Canada and US addresses only.
    FNAC (permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, auditorium events, lectures and symposia, workshops).
    Ticketnet (tickets for the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions).
    Note that these tickets must be picked up at the stores listed on each website or send by post to your address (with surcharge for the post). They can not be picked up at the Louvre museum (still valid in 2014).

    I use to buy them at the FNAC shops; there are many in Paris. You pay 13,60 € instead of the official 12,00 € (2014) price at the Louvre.
    The difference is well worth not waiting in the line.
    But note that with this advance bought ticket you can only enter by the special fast line at the Pyramide; you can not enter by the underground Carousel entry reserved for groups I understood.
    So if it is raining don't forget your umbrella because you have to walk to the Pyramide and stand a few minutes in a short file because the "brilliant" architect who created the Pyramid has only foreseen two small doors to enter and two small escalators to go down to the main hall (where are several ticket counters and machines for those who stood in the long line outside).

    NEW: From April to September: NO free admission on the first Sunday of each month.

    N.B. Maybe I'm wrong to write such warning tips to avoid the lining?
    If every tourist going to the Louvre reads VT and buys tickets in advance the long line will be the priority line on the left at the Pyramid! But I have seen from experience that few visitors read VT; my first tip on VT about avoiding lines is from 2006 with photos of people standing in the rain and in 2013 the tourists are still lining up!

    Long line in the rain ! The fast line for visitors with ticket. The lines at the ticket corners! Ticket bought at the Fnac shops.
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    Winged Victory of Samothrace renovation.

    by breughel Updated Jan 17, 2014

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    Since September 3, 2013 the Winged Victory of Samothrace is undergoing a conservation treatment.
    My photo on 25/08/2013 is therefore one of the last made of the Victoire de Samothrace, one of the highlights of Le Louvre. The project is expected to take about 18 months to complete and will involve a certain reorganization. The Victory will be unavailable for viewing till summer 2014.
    The purpose of the conservation project is to clean the monument, which is made of different kinds of marble. Once the statue has been removed from its boat-shaped base, the 23 blocks that form the boat and pedestal will be dismantled for cleaning."

    The French press mentioned that this restoration would cost 4 million Euros.
    Three millions were raised through 3 sponsors (Japanese, French and American).
    One million came from a campaign to appeal for donations from individuals or companies. The average donation was 134 Euros of which 92% were French.

    If the monument should be back next summer the Daru staircase which provides the perfect setting for the Winged Victory of Samothrace and usually very crowded with visitors heading for the Joconde-Mona Lisa, will have its walls, floors, vaulted ceilings and railings refurbished. The cleaning of the staircase should be complete for the spring 2015.

    Winged Victory of Samothrace.
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    Van Eyck & Vermeer in wing Richelieu.

    by breughel Updated Feb 24, 2015

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    Van Eyck & Vermeer.

    Two of the best painters of their time can be admired on level 2 from the Richelieu wing (room 38), which is far away from La Joconde in the opposite wing Denon with its crowds.
    Everybody knows Vermeer from the Dutch 17th c. "Gouden Eeuw" (Golden Age) school. The Louvre has "La Dentellière - The Lace maker" and the "Astronomer".
    "The Astronomer" and "The Geographer" (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt) are the only paintings by Vermeer showing a male person, probably the same man in the same interior.
    On my first visits here in the 1990s there were nearly no visitors in this section of the Richelieu wing. Now there are some but no crowd like in front of the Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. See Rijksmuseum Gouden Eeuw and Rijksmuseum.

    But let go back by two centuries to the years 1400 with what we call in Belgium the "Flemish Primitives" with a future icon of Le Louvre: "La Vierge du Chancelier Rolin" by Jan van Eyck in 1435 (room 5).
    I say a future icon of Le Louvre because this painting is now already marked as one of the highlights on the museum map; guides with school groups make a long stop here and the French TV showed a 20 minutes document about all aspects - symbolism, techniques, perspective - of this highlight of the Flemish primitives. Van Eyck was one of the first artists to use oil paint.

    Nicolas Rolin (1376?–1462), who was chancellor to Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, is kneeling before the Virgin and Child. The Virgin is seated on a marble throne wearing a full, embroidered cloak adorned with precious stones.
    Here I must say that the red color of her cloak seemed somewhat dull and brownish as compared to photos on the website of Le Louvre, who show a brilliant red which is not what one sees on the wall of the museum. I fear that the glass protecting the painting is the reason of these dull colors (the same happens with La Joconde looking greenish). In a second photo I saturated somewhat the red color.

    The idealized landscape in the back is imaginary, full of architectural symbols.
    Despite numerous attempts, it is impossible to identify the cities on both sides of the river with towns in Flanders. These are symbolic images of the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem, traditionally placed on the left and right, separated by the river of life.

    I observed that the texts on the explanatory panels for all the works of art in wing Richelieu have been extended and are well documented. (They are only in French but visitors can use audio guides and I don't remember having seen explanations in another language than English in the museums of the UK).
    If you would like to know more about this highlight of Le Louvre go the website http://musee.louvre.fr/oal/viergerolin/indexFR.html (in French).

    The two Vermeer. The explanatory panel.
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    African Art - For a change of Mona Lisa.

    by breughel Updated Jun 22, 2013

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    At wing Denon one will find the most crowded part of Le Louvre with the Joconde room on the First floor but also the least visited part of the Museum with the Arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas on the Ground floor at the entry of the Porte des Lions (ref my tip on this entry "A shortcut to Mona Lisa" ).
    There are 7 rooms in this department and here the visitor can stand alone in front of some remarkable often surprising works of art.
    I must admit I have a weakness for African art which I discovered when I was a kid by visiting the Museum for Central Africa near Brussels.

    Le Louvre is showing some excellent sculptures which are coming from the Musée du Quai Branly and the Musée de l'Homme. The advantage over the Quai Branly is that Le Louvre allows taking photos prohibited at Branly. (Did you ever read the 6 pages - 4,2 Mb visitor rules of the quai Branly museum? Surrealistic; only in French).

    My first photo shows an overall view. You can see that this is the place if you want to be alone at Le Louvre.
    The second pic shows a sculpture of the civilisation of Ifè (Nigeria 13th c.) Photo n°3 is a woman of the Benin kingdom around 1600.
    Changing of continent I much liked this frightening "Korwar" sculpture (photo 4) from Indonesia (18th c.). The head of the figure is a skull container.
    My wife showed a real enthusiasm for this sculpture (17th c., photo 5) of the Easter Island; the resemblance with me is striking she said!

    Louvre - African arts Louvre - African arts - Nigeria Louvre - African arts - Benin Louvre - Louvre - Sculpture Easter Island.
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    Near Eastern Antiquities at Le Louvre.

    by breughel Updated Nov 3, 2012

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    This is one of the most spectacular departments of the Louvre with the Cour Khorsabad on the ground floor of the Richelieu wing. My first visit was here in the nineties and I like at each of my visits to the museum to spend at least a half hour among the winged human-headed bulls, lions, royal archers of these very ancient empires.
    The Near Eastern Antiquities Department has for object the ancient civilizations of the Near East. This period extends from ten thousand years ago, to the advent of Islam. The names of Sumer, Ur, Babylonia, Hittites, Assyria and many others are illustrated in this department.

    The Cour (courtyard) Khorsabad was named after a city in northern Iraq where excavations (1843-1854) showed the existence of a palace build by King Sargon II in 706 BC. The excavations were started by Paul-Emile Botta consul of France in Mossoul. Sad for the Louvre is the fact that during transport on the river Tigris a large part of the objects found in Khorsabad were lost in a shipwreck.

    The architecture of the palace was recreated by displaying in their original configuration the monumental sculptures which were found.
    Most spectacular are the human-headed winged bulls of 4 x 4 m (photo 1). They were protective genies placed as guardians at the gates of the city. Visitors always like to have their photo taken in front of these bulls but one of them is a copy (the original is in the Oriental Institute of Chicago).
    The "Hero Overpowering a Lion" is also one of the major sculptures (5,52 m high) of this part of the Louvre (photo 2).

    Most famous in this department are the glazed brick decorations of the palace of Darius at Suza with the frieze of the archers (photo 3) and the frieze of the lions (photo 4) in room 12b.
    Special and well conserved for his age (2100 BC) is that seated statue of Goudea prince of Lagash (Sumer) in room 2.
    As this Near Eastern department covers 25 rooms a half hour visiting might be a bit short!*

    Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: from 9 to 18 h.
    Wednesday, Friday: from 9 to 22 h.
    Closed on Tuesday

    Entrances to the museum:
    Pyramid and Galerie du Carrousel entrances: from 9 to 22 h.
    Passage Richelieu entrance: from 9 to 18 h.
    Porte des Lions entrance: from 9 to 17.30 h., except Friday.

    Price tickets for the Permanent Collections (2012)
    €10: full-day access to the Louvre, except for temporary exhibitions in the Hall Napoléon
    also valid for the Musée Eugène Delacroix.
    Free less than 18 yr.
    Free 18 - 25 yr from the EU.
    Free for all on the first Sunday of every month.

    Louvre - human-headed winged bull Louvre - Louvre - Frieze of the archers Louvre - Frieze of the lions Louvre -
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    A shortcut to La Joconde - Mona Lisa.

    by breughel Updated Feb 13, 2013

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    If you enter Le Louvre by the Pyramide you will have to follow a long and slow way to reach La Joconde - Mona Lisa in Wing Denon, 1st floor, room 6, because the stairs passing by the Samothrace Victory statue are usually crowded with visitors.

    Best, if you are short in time, is to use the entrance of the Porte des Lions located at the end of the Denon wing near the Seine with the Pont Royal and the Quai des Tuileries.
    I have used that entrance since 2008 and never met queues.
    That means that presently one can use this entrance only on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Before the opening hours were from 9 to 17.30 h but now the museum mentions "Opening hours: please contact us at +33 (0)1 40 20 53 17" what is very strange! I would suggest being there well before 17.00 h as on those days the museum closes at 18 h.
    Tickets (11 €) can be bought at the desk or from a machine.

    This entrance of the Porte des Lions opens on the department of African Arts. There is no connection by the Ground floor to the other part of the Denon wing.
    By taking the stair case or elevator the visitors reach the 1st floor with the rooms on Spanish paintings and then the Grande Galerie (Italian paintings) with on the left room 6 and the "Joconde".

    Entering by the Porte des Lions at 9 h will allow you to admire Mona Lisa at close distance. Just have a look at my photos showing no crowd at 9.20 h and the crowd at 11 h.

    Louvre - Porte des Lions - Entry with no lines Louvre - La Joconde at 9.20 h. Louvre - La Joconde at 11 h. Louvre - Entrance Porte des Lions by the Seine. Louvre - Grande Galerie towards La Joconde.
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    by breughel Updated Feb 19, 2015

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    The department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities underwent reorganization in order to improve the exhibition spaces. On my visit in August 2009 rooms 7, 14 - 16 on the Sully ground floor were closed.
    The rooms devoted to the classical Greek and Hellenistic art (Sully, rooms 7-17) were completely refurbished, and are again open to the public since July 7, 2010.
    The Venus of Milo stands in room 7 (will be moved to room 16).
    The highlight of the museum, the Winged Victory of Samothrace stands at the staircase linking the Denon and Sully wings (28 on the museum map).

    To these highlights of the Western art was added in 2004 a remarkable acquisition; a life-sized horse's head (photo 1), fragment from an Archaic Greek sculpture dating from the 6th century BC.

    We spent some time admiring the Greek terracotta figurines - arranged chronologically, geographically, and thematically - in rooms 35 - 37 of what is called the Musée Charles X.
    You will find here an amazing combination of a palace décor from 1827 evoking Homer, Pompeii and Herculaneum, executed by the best artists (a.o. Ingres, Vernet, Fragonard) from the reign of Charles X and antiquities collections.
    These rooms have been renovated and are just wonderful by the décor and the content (photo 2).

    The terracotta figures ("Tanagra figurines") date from the Archaic, Pre-Classical Hellenistic and Roman periods. I much liked a small and quite elegant "Victory with wings" from 190 BC (photo 3).

    Here are also on display in new and elegant showcases a large number of Greek vases of all shapes (the Louvre collection counts 2700 vases): amphora, krater, hydria, long shaped lekythos, cups and some interesting rythons with a head of a donkey. Unique is this oenochoe (wine jug) in the form of a head from a black slave (photo 4 - room 43).

    Le Louvre - Greek-Attic horse Le Louvre - Charles X rooms - Greek antiquities Le Louvre - Le Louvre - Greek rythons.
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    Photography at Le Louvre - CHANGES.

    by breughel Updated Jan 20, 2009

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    The Louvre has a sound policy for photography and filming. The "règlement" is found on www.lelouvre.fr > Visit > Aids & Amenities > Amenities.
    Changes occured in 2008 as you will read from following text:

    Règlement de visite du Musée.

    Une nouvelle rédaction de l’article 33 du règlement de visite concernant l'autorisation de photographier dans les salles du musée vient d'être adopté par le Conseil d'administration :

    "Dans les salles des collections permanentes, les œuvres peuvent être photographiées ou filmées pour l’usage privé de l’opérateur.
    L’usage des flashes, et autres dispositifs d’éclairage est prohibé.
    Dans les salles d'expositions temporaires, il est interdit de photographier et de filmer.
    Il est également interdit de filmer et de photographier les installations et les équipements techniques"

    Museum photography policy

    The museum's board of directors has recently (2008) adopted a new Regulation regarding photography in the museum:

    "Still and video photography is permitted for private, non commercial use only in the galleries housing the permanent collection.
    The use of flash or other means of artificial lighting is prohibited.
    Photography and filming are not permitted in the temporary exhibition galleries. The same restrictions apply to the photographing or filming of technical installations and equipment."

    This is an important change because previously photography and filming were prohibited on the first floor of the Denon wing at the galleries of Italian (includes Mona Lisa), Spanish and French (large-format) paintings as well as the Apollo gallery in the same Denon wing. Elsewhere photography and filming was allowed even with flash although this was discouraged.

    I never use a flash because many paintings are behind glass or are varnished what reflects the flash light; same for all objects protected by windows.
    The exhibition rooms at Le Louvre are rather dark so that you have to adjust the ISO sensitivity of your photo apparatus. Further problem are the windows or lights reflecting on the exhibited objects.

    Effect of flash on a varnished painting.
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    Tapestries "the Hunts of Maximilian".

    by breughel Updated Feb 24, 2015

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    When you are in the Richelieu wing on the first floor which shows the decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the 19th c. you must visit the large room 19 of the Renaissance section.
    Here are hanging 12 of the most beautiful tapestries in the world called the "Hunts of Maximilian". Archduke Maximilian of Habsbourg, later emperor of Austria was the brother of Emperor Charles V (Charles Quint born in Gent, Belgium) who in that time had his palace in Brussels. He liked to go hunting in the forest of Soignes (still existing) just outside Brussels. The 12 large (about 5 x 7 m) tapestries show scenes of hunting at the 12 months of the year.
    The picturesque, realistic and detailed landscapes show, in the back ground, the still existing abbey of Rouge Cloître, the village of La Hulpe and the town hall of Brussels.

    The inspiration is from the Italian renaissance, the technical mastery is that of the painter and cartoon designer Bernard van Orley and the weavers from Brussels (ref. my tip on Brussels tapestries at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Cinquantenaire, Brussels).
    They were manufactured between 1531 and 1533 probably by Guillaume Dermoyen.
    The "lissiers" tapestry weavers used two type of weaving loom: the horizontal loom called "basse lisse" and the vertical one "haute lisse". In both case the weavers worked on the back side. It has been calculated that one "lissier" would weave about 1 square meter in one month!

    Although ordered by the Habsbourg, in the 16th c. they belonged to the French Ducs de Guise, then Mazarin and King Louis XIV. These tapestries contain gold wire but fortunately escaped the destructions of the French revolutionaries.
    The French Manufacture des Gobelins made a number of copies of the original tapestries around 1700.

    These 12 marvellous tapestries are very well presented in the large room 19.
    It is sad that so few visitors of the museum stop here to really look at them.

    Louvre - Tapestries Louvre - Tapestries -December, killing a wild boar Louvre - Tapestries - hunting a stag
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    Richelieu Wing.

    by breughel Updated Jun 5, 2013

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    Many amateurs of art estimate that wing Richelieu is the best part of Le Louvre.
    I do agree. It starts on the Ground Floor with the French Sculptures in Cour Puget (photo 2) and Cour Marly, the amazing sculptures of Mesopotamia in Cour Khorsabad.
    On the First Floor are the Decorative Arts from the Middle Ages, Renaissance (ref. my tip on the tapestries The hunts of Maximilan ) 17th c. furniture with Charles Boulle (photo 3), 18th and 19th c.
    The visit of the Napoleon III apartments (photo 1) and the Restoration and July Monarchy is a must.
    On the Second Floor is on display a very good collection of Dutch paintings, with two Vermeer, Flemish (Van Eyck - photo 4) and German painters mainly from the 15th to the 17th c. I will come back on this collection of paintings.

    Louvre - Appartements Napol��on III Louvre - Cour Puget Louvre - Salle 34 Charles Boulle J. Van Eyck
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    Egyptian Antiquities.

    by breughel Updated Apr 6, 2013

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    With more than 50.000 objects the Egyptian collection of the Louvre is the second in the world after Cairo. This is not surprising as the collection started with Napoleon Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt between 1798 and 1801.
    It was the talented French linguist Jean-François Champollion who solved the enigma of Pharaonic writing in 1822 and was appointed curator of a new department in the Louvre that was inaugurated in 1827 under King Charles X.
    Another famous name was the archaeologist Mariette who became the first director of Egyptian Antiquities.

    In 1997, during the Grand Louvre renovation project, this huge collection was distributed on two different floors of Wing Sully. As the heaviest objects had to remain on the ground floor it was impossible to arrange the works by period.
    This ground floor with 19 rooms, including the temple room (12) and the sarcophagi room (14), features a thematic installation centred on the major aspects of Egyptian civilization i.e. the daily life in Ancient Egypt.
    The 1st floor of wing Sully (rooms 20 to 30) presents a chronological approach, highlighting the different historical periods and the development of Egyptian art from 4000 BC to 400 AD.

    Numbers of visitors of Le Louvre are coming here with the sole aim to visit the Egyptian department; for the others it would be a real pity not to spend at least one hour here.
    The most famous artefact which always impresses the visitors is "The Seated Scribe" (c. 2620-2500 BC) in room 22 on 1st floor wing Sully. The inlaid eyes are the most striking aspect of this sculpture; furthermore nothing is known about the person portrayed!

    Louvre - Louvre - Egyptian family. Louvre - Ouchebtis Cats
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    Ladies competing with Mona Lisa.

    by breughel Updated Jan 3, 2015

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    La Joconde is an old acquaintance of mine. We met in 1962 when I visited for the first time Le Louvre.
    In t(hose "medieval" times there was no pyramid; the facades of the Louvre were of a dirty grey color as most of the buildings of Paris. No queue at the entrance of the museum. We were only a few visitors in front of Mona Lisa!
    There were even no pickpockets in those blessed years of the golden sixties!

    Since then I have been several times to the Louvre passing by the Mona Lisa -La Joconde.
    From an academic point of view there is no doubt for me that this portrait is excellent. The enigmatic-ironic smile of the model certainly contributed to its glory.

    But … if on my first visit in 1962 I felt curiosity "so that's Mona Lisa", I never felt on my many visits that emotion, attraction, complicity which I often felt with other portraits and I have seen many portraits of women painted in the 15th and 16th century when lived Leonardo da Vinci.

    For example these ladies I met at the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, "Gemäldegalerie - Extraordinary paintings.". I had a real "coup de coeur" for these women painted by Van der Weyden, Petrus Christus and Botticelli in the 15th c.
    Or this lady by Robert Campin (1435) at the National Gallery, London. "Sainsbury wing"
    A paradoxical example of portraits for which I felt more interest than Mona Lisa was from da Vinci himself "The Lady with an Ermine" (Krakow museum)!

    These ladies gone since centuries made me think of "La Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis" (Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past) a poem from François Villon (1461)

    Dictes moy ou n'en quel pays
    Est Flora le belle Romaine

    Qui beaulté ot trop plus qu'humaine.
    Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?

    Tell me where, in which country
    Is Flora, the beautiful Roman;

    Who had a beauty too much more than human?
    Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!?

    The Lady with an Ermine by da Vinci. Lady by Van der Weyden. Lady by Petrus Christus. Lady by Robert Campin. Lady by Botticelli.
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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    ACTIVITIES & TOURS at Le Louvre.

    by breughel Updated Feb 28, 2012

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Part of e-mail sent as answer on 24/02 (might be of interest for others):

    I would suggest that you go on their website www.louvre.fr (you can select several languages) and under ACTIVITIES & TOURS you will see 3 possibilities of which here a brief summary from the website:

    "Guided Tours
    Tours of the Louvre are given by national museum guides. An hour and a half to discover the museum’s collections, whether it is your first visit or you are a regular museum-goer.
    The introductory tour (see below) is the best option for a first visit since it gives you an overview of the museum’s most famous works. It is available in English.
    Guided Tours
    Louvre's Masterpieces
    Louvre highlights - Length 1h30

    Lecture tours delve into a specific theme of art history, a period, a genre or an artist from one or several of the museum’s departments. They are currently available in French only.

    Audio guide
    Listen to the museum's curators and specialists commenting on several hundred artworks.
    Available in English, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and French Sign Language.

    Visitor Trails
    The Louvre Web site offers a number of thematic trails designed to give you an overview of the scope and richness of the museum's collections. Each trail is based on a selection of works that typify a period, an artistic movement, or a theme. They can be viewed online or printed out prior to a museum visit."

    As you appear to be an amateur of art history with a deeper interest than the ordinary tourist and planned several days for Le Louvre I would suggest the Audio Guide allowing you:

    "Tailor your visit to suit you
    Free choice: listen to the commentaries at your own pace as you walk around.
    Tours: follow one of our five themed tours."

    Also most interesting are the "Visitor Trails" because you can see them online and print out prior to your visit.

    Wishing you a "bon séjour et visite".

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Comments (2)

  • Jan 12, 2014 at 6:36 AM

    Breughel's review describing her first visit to The Louvre in 1962 brought back memories of MY first visit to the city and the museum that same year. It was Easter weekend and there were no queues and just a few people (maybe 10) clustered around The Mona Lisa. A totally different experience from today's museum visitors.

  • gwened's Profile Photo
    Apr 3, 2013 at 5:06 AM

    after getting to reach record attendance and multisites, the director of the Louvre has been replaced effective this month.Jean-Luc Martínez, that was before the head of the antiques greeks, etruscans, and romans of the museum will be the new director. He is a native Parisien as well.

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