Visit the Louvre

The Louvre holds hidden wonders that the large majority of the crowds who clog its most popular rooms and halls haven’t got wind of. So, whether you know Paris well, or it’s your first time, the Louvre deserves more than just one visit; because lets face it, there’s more to the world’s greatest museum than just the Mona Lisa or the Venus de Milo. Get away from the crowds and start exploring the Louvre’s wealth of fascinating and surprising cultural treasures.

The Departments of the Louvre

This gigantic Museum is divided into eight departments: Paintings, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities, Near Eastern Antiquities, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, Islamic Art, and Prints & Drawings. A separate department is devoted to African Art, Asia, Oceanic Art, and another is dedicated to the History of the Louvre and the Louvre Medieval.

Highlights by Department

The Painting Department is divided into schools of origin. All of the greats are displayed in the French School section: Poussin, Watteau (Le Gilles), Delacroix (Liberty Guiding the People), Géricault (The Raft of the Medusa), Ingres or David. Featuring in the section dedicated to the Northern School, are the works of Jan Van Eyck, Dürer, Brueghel, Rubens, Rembrandt, or Vermeer. The Italian School is one that definitely draws the crowd. Beginning with the early Renaissance masters such as Fra Angelico, Giotto, and Paolo Uccello, it culminates with high renaissance stars like Raphael and Leonardo Da Vinci with his famous works: The Virgin of the Rocks, Saint Jean the Baptist, or the fabulous Virgin and the Child with Saint Anne. Other highlights include The Wedding at Cana by Véronèse and the Spanish Department with works by El Greco, Vélasquez and Ribera.

Sculpture

The Sculpture Department is also arranged according to school. There you will find a series of sculptures by Michelangelo known collectively as the Slaves and the magisterial Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss by Anontio Canova. Don’t miss out on the monumental sculptures as seen in the Puget Court and the Marly Court found in the Richelieu wing of the Museum.

Decorative Arts

The department of Decorative Arts presents precious objects from the Middle Ages to the 14th century, which includes arms, furniture, tapestries, and jewels. In the same section is the fabulous Galierie d’Apollon, which was built by Louis XIV, and which houses the King’s crown with its breathtaking collection of diamonds. The real gem, or folly, however, (whichever way you interpret it) can be found in among all of this splendour in the ostentatious form of the Napoleon III’s official apartments. These magnificent apartments would put the extravagances of someone like Puff Daddy in perspective.

Oriental Antiquities

The Oriental Antiquities department boasts impressive vestiges from Mesopotamia and Iran. Startling examples include: the monumental statues from the Palace of Khorsabad, which dominate the court of the same name; the gigantic decorations from the palace of Darius 1st in Suse; and the Code of Hammourabi, one of the first Babylonian laws dating from 1772 BC.

Egyptian Antiquities

When one mentions the Egyptian Antiquities, many people will recall having seen the huge statues of the Pharaohs, the monumental statues of the divinities, the strikingly real “The Seated Scribe”, and the giant sarcophaguses. However, taking time to explore the lesser-known parts of this department will reveal a wealth of fascinating and sometimes enigmatic objects such as jewels, accessories for the daily toilette, musical instruments, and games. Finish with the rooms of Coptic art and you will discover works off the beaten track.

Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Antiquities

You will discover that the department of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Antiquities, is not limited to the Venus of Milo or the Victory of Samothrace. The Caryatides Hall houses a stunning collection of sculpture including the somewhat surprising Sleeping Hermaphrodite.

Arts of Islam

For something really unusual and surprising try a visit to the newly opened Arts of Islam wing of the Louvre. Inside you will find one of the most important collection of Islamic art found anywhere in the western world. Dating from the 7th to the 14th century, there is a whole host of intriguing objects on display from architectural elements, books, rugs, textiles, carved ivory, stone, and metal objects to glass and ceramics. The whole varied collection has been installed in a modern building with a ceiling built of chain mail and glass that forms a dramatic wave over the first floor.

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