History Of The Louvre

History of the Louvre: The Louvre in Paris, France houses the world's greatest art collections including the Mona Lisa.

The Louvre, one of the world's finest art museums is located in Paris, France along the Seine River. It houses many significant works of art including the "Victory of Samothrace" and Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa." Initially it was a royal fortress and many years later turned into a palace for Philip II, King of France. The halls of the building were so big that the king and his son use to ride on horseback, galloping in and out of its many hallways.

The Louvre is a tremendous compound of buildings constructed in Paris over a span of three hundred years. It has been constantly enlarged and decorated by French kings. Today, thousands of pictures adorn its towering walls, statues stand elevated on its dazzling floors and abundant art treasures are displayed in over one hundred rooms of the palace. No one knows for sure where the name, Louvre comes from, but some think it probably comes from the Latin word, Lupara. The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world. The art is so priceless that during both World Wars I and II, the government of France took all the valuables out of the Louvre and hid them. The hiding place is still kept secret for fear of it ever having to be used again.

Most of the structures that make up the museum follow in the style of French Renaissance. In 1546 the architect Pierre Lescot was appointed by King Francis I to erect the west wing of the complex. The Louvre grew larger as the royal collections increased. The Grande Galerie was completed under the reign of Henry IV and in 1624 Louis XIII had Jacques Lemercier plan more extensions to the Louvre.

Beginning in 1667, the majestic east fa├žade was designed by Claude Perrault.

Throughout the 17th century the Louvre's holdings continued to increase. Significant additions during this period were major works by the great masterful Dutch and Flemish artist. In 1725 the French Academy of Painting and Sculpture held a great art exhibit in the Salon Carre at the Louvre. The school being located at the Louvre made their exhibition the site of annual salons. Napoleon I heightened the status of the Louvre when he began its Egyptian collection and the museum was completed in its entirety under Napoleon III.

Since 1848 when it became the holdings of the state, the Louvre has continued to broaden its collection. Many people leave valuable items through a generous gift or bequest. In 1981 President Francois Mitterrand brought forth a new plan called the "Le Grand Louvre" project. This project included an extension and the complete remodeling of the museum. Today, the illustrious Pei glass pyramid marks the new entry to the museum. Inside you can see Greek, Roman, oriental and Egyptian antiquities along with medieval sculptures along with rooms full of Renaissance as well as modern paintings. Some famous statues that can be seen at The Louvre include "Winged Victory" and "Venus de Milo." The ceilings are bejeweled with mosaics, paintings and carvings. Some of the pottery dates back 5,000 years. Inside are room after room of extraordinary French paintings and some of the paintings are so huge they would not fit on the walls of our homes. Some paintings that stir the soul include, "The Raft of the Medusa" and "The Last Supper." One could spend months inside the marvelous museum and still not be able to see everything. If you are planning a visit to the Louvre it is advised to get there early for an enormous crowd awaits at the doors and a constant flow of people are coming and going at all times.

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