So, you’re headed to Paris and the Louvre is on your list of places to visit. Now, you’re probably thinking about what to see once inside. Start your list off with these ten works of art at the Louvre Museum and use the accompanying map to find them in the sprawling former palace.
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1. The Winged Victory of Samothrace (Nike)
The Winged Victory of Samothrace is one of the most stunning works of art in the Louvre Museum. Set at the top of a staircase, the famous Louvre sculpture is separated from the other art at the museum. With intricate detailing, the majestic sculpture looks as though her clothing is billowing in the wind as she stands atop the prow of a ship.
2. The Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is undoubtedly the most famous painting at the Louvre Museum, and probably in the world. It looks as though she is smiling until you look at her head-on. From this angle, her mouth looks downturned.
After the painting’s theft in 1911, pictures of the Mona Lisa appeared in newspapers across the world. If you’ve ever wondered why the Mona Lisa famous, this is one of the reasons. You can find Mona in the Denon Wing, on the 1st floor, in the Mona Lisa room (she even has a whole room named after her!), Room number 711.
3. The Coronation of Napoleon
This famous Louvre painting depicts the coronation of Napoleon, which happened in the famous Notre Dame cathedral. With life-like detailing, the painting depicts dozens of individual people. On top of being an amazing painting, there’s a ton of political and social history behind this work of art.
Napoleon persuaded the pope to travel from Rome to Paris to bless him as he was named emperor. Considering that the pope rarely traveled for anyone, this was a big deal. Napoleon’s mother is depicted watching the coronation However, she didn’t actually attend the ceremony out of spite.
4. Liberty Leading the People
This is one of the most famous paintings in France. Eugène Delacroix was inspired to paint Liberty Leading the People by a Parisian uprising in July 1830. Here, ‘Liberty’ is depicted as a bare-chested woman in a yellow dress, carrying the French flag in one hand and a musket in the other.
Many say that French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi took inspiration from Delacroix while creating the Statue of Liberty, gifted by France to America in 1886. You can find this painting in the Denon Wing, First Floor | French Romanticism and Neoclassicism, Rooms 75 to 77.
5. The Raft of the Medusa
Painted by Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa depicts the brutal aftermath of a French boat that ran aground in Africa. Then, as many as 150 men built a raft from the ship’s lumber to save themselves. After almost two weeks, only ten of the men survived after enduring extreme dehydration, despair, angst, and even resorting to murder and cannibalism. You can find the Raft of the Medusa in Room 77, Mollien.
6. Sleeping Hermaphrodite
Discovered in Rome near the Baths of Diocletian in 1608, Sleeping Hermaphrodite depicts Hermaphroditus. The offspring of Hermes (messenger of the gods) and Aphrodite, the prized sculpture depicts a figure with elements of both male and female characteristics.
Nobody knows who created this sculpture, but the statue was discovered in Rome at the start of the 17th century. Soon after, Bernini (the same guy who designed the Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Navona, Rome), carved a bed from marble for Hermaphroditus to lie on. Find this sculpture in the Sully wing, Ground floor, Salle des Caryatides – Room 348.
7. Venus de Milo
With a captivated backstory, Venus de Milo dates back to around 100 B.C. Depicting the goddess of life and beauty, this ancient Greek statue was discovered in 1820 on the island of Milos by a French naval officer. Likely created by Alexandros of Antioch during the late 2nd century B.C., the marble statue is celebrated for its Hellenistic artistry. And of course, Venus de Milo is well-known for her lack of arms.
To the Greeks, her name is Aphrodite. To the Romans, her name is Venus. You can find the sculpture in room, or salle, 346 in the Louvre.
8. Hammurabi Code
A well-preserved Babylonian code of law of ancient Mesopotamia, the Code of Hammurabi dates back to about 1754 B.C. (Middle Chronology). Enacted by King Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian king, this piece of history might not be the most eye-catching item in the Louvre Museum. However, it’s an incredible piece of history that you need to see for yourself. You can find this ancient legal code in Room 3, Mésopotamie.
9. Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss – Antonio Canova
One of the most romantic works of art in the Louvre Museum, Cupid and Psyche is a sculpture that depicts two young lovers in embrace. Here, the princess Psyche wakes up for the first time by a kiss from Cupid. Remember, make sure you walk around the entire circumference.
When Canova created this masterpiece, he included a handle on the base of Psyche’s foot to rotate the whole thing. As a result, the movement of the two bodies is an important element of the sculpture. You can find this piece in Room 4, Department of Sculptures.
10. Great Sphinx of Tanis
Known as “the guardian of the Louvre Museum,” paying a visit to the Great Sphinx of Tanis is the best way to make sure you admire at least one piece of Egyptian art at the Louvre Museum. Found in Tanis, Egypt’s capital during the 21st and 23rd Dynasty, in the ruins of a temple, this sphinx is one of the largest sphinxes you can find outside of Egypt.
Impressive to look at, the sphinx represents the close relationship between the sun god Ra (the lion’s body) and the king (the human head). So, where is the Sphinx? You can find this piece in Room 338, Crypt of the Sphinx.
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