Our first stop, upon the museum’s opening, was the Painting Collection which has more than 7,500 works, from the 13th century to 1848. Nearly two-thirds are by French artists while more than 1,200 are Northern European. The French and Northern European works are in the Richelieu Wing and Cour Carrée while the Spanish and Italian paintings are on the first floor of the Denon Wing.
The Italian paintings compose most of the remnants of Francis I and Louis XIV’s collections, others are unreturned artwork from the Napoleonic Era, and some were bought. The collection began with Francis I, who acquired works from Italian masters such as Raphael, Michelangelo and several works of Giambattista Pittoni .
Exemplifying the French School are the early Avignon Pietà of Enguerr and Quarton; the anonymous painting of King Jean le Bon (c.1360), possibly the oldest independent portrait in Western painting to survive from the post Classical era; Hyacinthe Rigaud‘s Louis XIV; Jacques-Louis David‘s The Coronation of Napoleon; and Eugène Delacroix‘s Liberty Leading the People.
The notable Italian holdings, particularly the Renaissance collection, include works by Andrea Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini‘s Calvarys, which reflect realism and detail “meant to depict the significant events of a greater spiritual world.” The High Renaissance collection includes works of Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and, from 16th century Venice, Titian‘s Le Concert Champetre, The Entombment and The Crowning with Thorns.
Some of the best known paintings of the museum have been digitized by the French Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France.
- Mona Lisa (or in French La Joconde, or in Italian La Gioconda), by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, was on permanent display here since 1797. The painting, in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel, is thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. The painting is now on display at the Denon wing which has two rooms, one dedicated to French artists and one to Italian ones (where you will find the Mona Lisa). The painting, covered by a glass window, is not very big, 30” x 21”, and it takes an entire wall in the Louvre. If you enter Le Louvre by the Pyramide you will have to follow a long and slow way to reach the Mona Lisa in the 1st floor, Room 6, Denon Wing because the stairs passing by the Samothrace Victory statue is usually crowded with visitors.
- Grande Odalisque (also known asUne Odalisque or La Grande Odalisque), an oil painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, was commissioned by Napoleon‘s sister, Queen Caroline Murat of Naples, and finished in 1814. It depicts a reclining figure of an odalisque, or concubine, in languid pose as seen from behind with distorted proportions. When it was first shown, it attracted wide criticism for the elongated proportions and lack of anatomical realism.
- Liberty Leading the People (French: La Liberté guidant le peuple), painted by Eugène Delacroix in the autumn of 1830, commemorates the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X of France. A woman personifying the concept and the goddess of Liberty leads the people forward over the bodies of the fallen, holding the the tricolor flag of the French Revolution (France’s national flag) in one hand and brandishing a bayoneted musket with the other. The figure of Liberty, known as Marianne, is also viewed as a symbol of France and the French Republic.
- Death of the Virgin, a painting completed by Italian Baroque master Caravaggio in 1606, was commissioned by papal lawyer Laerzio Cherubini for his chapel in the Carmelite church of Santa Maria della Scala in Trastevere, Rome . The figures are nearly life-sized. The Virgin Mary, the painting’s central theme, lies reclined, clad in a simple red dress. Caravaggio completely abandons the iconography traditionally used to indicate the holiness of the Virgin. Her cast-off body, with lolling head, hanging arm and swollen, spread feet, depict a raw and realistic view of the Virgin’s mortal remains, with nothing of the respectful representation found in devotional paintings.
- La Belle Jardinière, also known as Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, painted by the Italian High Renaissance artist Raphael during his stay in Florence between 1507 and 1508, was commissioned by the Sienese patrician Fabrizio Sergardi and shows Mary, Christ and the young John the Baptist. Raphael’s use of contrasting light and dark, and the relaxed, informal pose of the Madonna illustrates Leonardo da Vinci’s influence. Because of the harmony and balance of the picture together with the high quality of elements present, this 48 in × 31.5 in (122 cm × 80 cm) paintings is one of Raphael’s famous works.
- Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, another oil painting attributed to Raphael (1514–1515), is considered one of the great portraits of the Renaissance and has an enduring influence. It depicts the diplomat and humanist Baldassare Castiglione, Raphael’s friend, who is considered a quintessential example of the High Renaissance gentleman. The painting was acquired by Louis XIV in 1661 from the heirs of Cardinal Mazarin.
- Oath of the Horatii, a large painting by the French artist Jacques-Louis David painted in 1784, immediately became a huge success with critics and the public, and remains one of the best known paintings in the Neoclassical style of art. It depicts a scene from a Roman legend about a dispute between two warring cities, Rome and Alba Longa. The painting increased David’s fame, allowing him to take on his own students.
- The imposing, 10 m. (33 ft) wide and 6 m. (20 ft.) high Coronation of Napoleon, a painting completed in 1807 by Jacques-Louis David as the official painter of Napoleon, depicts the crowning and the coronation that took place at Notre-Dame de Paris, Napoleon’s way to make it clear that he was a son of the Revolution.
- The Battle of San Romano, a set of three paintings in egg tempera on wooden panels, each over 3 m. long by the Florentine painter Paolo Uccello, depicts events that took place at the Battle of San Romano between Florentine and Sienese forces in 1432. They are significant as revealing the development of linear perspective in early Italian Renaissance painting, and are unusual as a major secular commission.
- The Intervention of the Sabine Women, a 1799 painting by the French painter Jacques-Louis David, shows a legendary episode following the abduction of the Sabine women by the founding generation of Rome. The painting depicts Hersilia, Romulus’s wife and the daughter of Titus Tatius, leader of the Sabines. She is seen rushing between her husband and her father and placing her babies between them. A vigorous Romulus prepares to strike a half-retreating Tatius with his spear, but hesitates.
- The Fortune Teller, a painting by Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, exists in two versions. The first, from 1594, is now in the Musei Capitolini in Rome. The second, from 1595, in the Louvre museum, was painted by Caravaggio for Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte. Copied from the original 1594 version, it had certain changes. The undifferentiated background becomes a real wall broken by the shadows of a half-drawn curtain and a window sash, and the figures more completely fill the space and defining it in three dimensions. The light is more radiant, and the cloth of the foppishly-dressed boy’s (model is believed to be Caravaggio’s companion, the Sicilian painter Mario Minniti) doublet and the gypsy girl’s sleeves more finely textured. The dupe becomes more childlike and more innocently vulnerable, the girl less wary-looking, leaning in towards him, more in command of the situation. Close inspection of the painting reveals what the young man has failed to notice – the girl is removing his ring as she gently strokes his hand while reading his palm.
- The Pastoral Concert, a 105 cm. × 137 cm. (41 in. × 54 in.) oil painting ( 1509) attributed to either of the Italian Renaissance masters, Titian (more usually today) or Giorgione, portrays three young people (a naked woman and two men are dressed in contemporary costumes) on a lawn, playing with each other. Next to them is a naked standing woman pouring water from a marble basin. In the wide background is a shepherd and, among the vegetation, a far landscape.
- The Virgin of the Rocks (sometimes called the Madonna of the Rocks), a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, shows the Madonna and Child Jesus with the infant John the Baptist and an angel, in a rocky setting which gives the painting its name. This painting is regarded as a perfect example of Leonardo’s “sfumato” technique.
- The massive Wedding at Cana (or The Wedding Feast at Cana), an oil painting by the late-Renaissance or Mannerist Italian painter Paolo Veronese, is the largest painting in that museum’s collection. The piece was commissioned in 1562 by the Benedictine Monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, Italy, and completed in fifteen months by the year 1563. t hung in the refectory of the monastery for 235 years, until it was plundered by Napoléon in 1797 and shipped to Paris. The scene depicts a mixture of contemporary and antique details.
- The Coronation of the Virgin, a 213 cm × 211 cm (84 in × 83 in) painting by the Italian early Renaissance master Fra Angelico, was executed around 1434-1435. The composition is based on the pyramidal structure of the steps and the figures of the Virgin and Christ.
- The Supper at Emmaus, a 242 cm, x 416 cm. oil painting by Italian Renaissance painter Paolo Veronese dated c. 1559, is the artist’s first large religious work.
- Venus and Cupid with a Satyr (c. 1528), a 5 cm. × 125.5 cm. (74.2 in. × 49.4 in.) painting by the Italian late Renaissance artist Antonio Allegri da Correggio, depicts Venus sleeping with her son Eros. Behind them, a satyr is caught while discovering the goddess.
- Oedipus Explaining the Enigma of the Sphinx, an oil painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1808), was initially a figure study that made up one of Ingres’s “dispatches from Rome.” Then, almost twenty years later, Ingres enlarged it to make a history painting and in so doing toned down the archaism of the earlier canvas.
- The Crucifixion, a panel in the central part of the predella of a large altar piece, was painted by Andrea Mantegna between 1457 and 1459 for the high altar of San Zeno, Verona (Italy). It was commissioned by Gregorio Correr, the abbot of that monastery.
Louvre Museum: 75001 Paris, France. Tel: +33 1 40 20 50 50. Open daily, except Tuesdays and holidays, 9 AM- 6 PM (until 10 PM on Wednesday and Friday evenings).
The Louvre has three entrances: the main entrance at the pyramid, an entrance from the Carrousel du Louvre underground shopping mall, and an entrance at the Porte des Lions (near the western end of the Denon wing).
Admission is free, from October to March, on the first Sunday of every month. Still and video photography is permitted for private, noncommercial 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.
How To Get There: the Louvre can be reached via Metro lines 1 and 7, station Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre Métro or the Louvre-Rivoli stations. By bus, take No. 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95 as well as the touristic Paris l’Open Tour. By car, there is an underground parking reachable by Avenue du Général Lemonier, every day from 7 AM – 11 PM.