On a sunny morning in Paris, we were moving across a wide road by hearing French songs in the flowing traffic. Smell of history everywhere. Down to earth, boats on The Seine catched our eye. And there was the Eiffel Tower standing in our sight magnificently. While cruising the enviroment with admiration we saw Moulen Rouge; the door in the middle of the city Arc de Triomphe (arch of triumph); Quasimado’s Notre Dame Cathedral; the famous Champs Elysées and the great Concorde Square… But our goal was The Louvre Museum!
The Louvre was originally built in the 12th century as a fortress to protect Paris against Viking raids at the order of King Phillipe Auguste. Then reconstructed to serve as a royal palace. According to some, Louvre comes from the word “louverie”, which means a hunting lodge for wolf hunters. Lately, some researchers brought forward the idea that the name might have come from the word lower in English, meaning a fortified castle. By remodelling under the order of Napoleon III, the grand architectural scheme of The Louvre was completed. Opened as the first state museum of art in 1793 shortly after the end of French Revolution. Containing more than 380,000 objects and displaying more than 35,000 works of art, The Louvre is one of the most well known museums in the world. After heavily damaged by fire during the Paris Commune of 1871, The Louvre took its final form in 1932. The Louvre Palace has a form of a rectangular structure with the Sully Wing to the east, the Richelieu Wing to the north and the Denon Wing to the South. The museum has eight curatorial departments such as “Egyptian Antiquities”, “Greek, Etruscan, and Roman”, “Near Eastern Antiquities”, “Islamic art”, “Decorative Art”, “Sculpture”, “Painting”, “Prints and Drawings”.
Entering The Louvre
We passed by The Louvre Museum a few times in the following days. Indeed, it intimidated us with its greatness. Insomuch that, I could claimed that I heard it talked for a moment; “You’ll never finish touring in one day.”
She was right …
We have only one day to explore The Louvre Museum. We had to act in an orderly manner otherwise we couldn’t able to see the most important pieces. So we made a plan for The Louvre… Inaugurated in 1989 as a part of a renovation plan, the glass pyramid greeted us at the main entrance. We have told that the French don’t appreciate this addition on the grounds that it impairs the museum’s quality. The main entrance was too crowded so we used another entrance.
The impressive ancient era
The museum was very crowded. It felt walking on İstiklal Avenue at rush hour. Regarding to our plan, our first stop was The Nike of Samothrace, the most widely known work of Hellenistic sculpture. It was a breathtaking beauty. In 1863, M. Champoiseau found the statue in the Aegean Sea, broken into several pieces.
As all parts couldn’t found, The Nike of Samothrace exhibited headless, footless, and armless in Louvre since 1894. It is predicted that the figure carved by a Rhodesian sculptor for the honour of a Greek naval victory. Our admiration increased so much more by examining the details of her dress. The Nike’s wings which intensely naturalistic gives you the feeling that the goddess flew in the skies of Paris at nights and return to her home in the morning. Another attractive woman of The Louvre, “Venus” a.k.a the love goddess Aphrodite’s statue is in the ancient Greek section, too. Created sometime between 130 and 100 BC, brought to the museum in the 19th century from the Milos Island, Venus de Milo still continues to mesmerize the ones looking at her eyes.
To reach the Mona Lisa
After saying goodbye to ancient Greek, we headed to our next destination: Leonardo da Vinci’s delicate, ironical Mona Lisa. Thanks to a group of Japanese tourists, we managed to reach the painting. Suffered by influx of visitors, there she was; the Mona Lisa…
When you first saw her, you just stand there and stare at her for a while. It took four years for Leonardo da Vinci to finish this mysterious woman’s portrait. Not only the painting but the story behind it was thrilling as well. No precise information other than rumors about the woman’s identity. Mona Lisa accompanied by The Wedding at Cana, the largest painting of The Louvre Museum. Paolo Veronese painted it in 1563. It depicts theWedding Feast at Cana, a miracle story from the Bible. It was Jesus’s first miracle. Jesus turning the water into wine at a wedding feast. The most important kings and queens of the era even Suleiman the Magnificent were among the guests of the feast. Jesus and his mother Mary are seated in the middle of the table.
The portrayal of an accident
We left Mona Lisa and The Wedding at Cana on their own to saw a piece that impressed me so much: The Raft of the Medusa. Considered one of the icons of French romanticism, it’s been painted by the French artist Théodore Géricault in 1819. Géricault inspired from a well known maritime incident at his times. He interviewed one of the survivors and to strengthen the expression of the scene, he went to morgues to examine of the flesh of the dead.
The Coronation of Napoleon and Oath of the Horatii
The Coronation of Napoleon depicts the coronation ceremony of Napoleon in Notre Dame Cathedral. The painting completed in 1807 by Jacques-Louis David. During our tour in the Louvre Museum before coming to this painting, we couldn’t help looking at it perpetually. Looked at our notes and said “aha, we had an incident here”. Plenty of intrigue in the painting: Napoleon summoned the Pope to Paris to crown him, but unlike what was required, Napoleon coronated himself. Thus, the government has revealed its power against the church. Regarding the worries of authoritarianism, Josephine received the crown from the hands of her husband, not the pope.
In the room next door, we were welcomed by another work of Jacques-Louis David: Oath of the Horatii, painted in 1784. It depicts the oath of three brothers in order to express their loyalty to Rome before going to war. Their father encourages his sons to fight and support their oath in spite of the lamentations of the family’s female members. With the theme of patriotism, it was one of the pioneers of Neoclassicism ecole.
Liberty Leading the People
This oil painting is considered one of the masterpieces of French painting. Painted by Eugene Delacroix in 1830 to commemorate the July Revolution, a three days civil commotion which toppled King Charles X. It depicts a woman personifying Liberty, holding the French flag in one hand and a musket with the other and leading the revolutionaries. Known as the symbol of The French Revolution all around the world, it is also known as the first political work of modern art.
Code of Hammurabi
We heared about it constantly in school and it is subject to jokes in our daily lives. Yes I am talking about Hammurabi, King of Babylonia and his reformist code of laws. Said to be the most special object in Near Eastern Antiquities department and considered the symbol of the Mesopotamian civilization. Emerged in Mesopotamia around 18th century BC, dating back to earlier than the Biblical laws, it was one of history’s oldest and best-preserved written code of laws. The code was discovered by archaeologists in 1901 led by Jean Vincent Scheil. Scheil moved it to France from Iran and published its editio princeps translation. The Code consists of 282 articles written in cuneiform.
You feel like you are in Eygpt when you visit Egyptian civilization section.Everything under the sun, everything you ever knew about Egyptian civilization… Ancient Egypt, the Middle Kingdom, the New Kingdom, Copts, Roman and Byzantine periods… Inscriptions, paintings, utility items, tombstones, hieroglyphics, mummies, sphinxes… The department, comprising over 50,000 pieces includes artifacts from the Nile civilizations which date from 4,000 BC to the 4th century AD.
Like a life time journey there were countless work of art in The Louvre such as: The Rebellious Slave and The Dying Slave by Michelangelo, Antonio Canova’s famous statue “Eros and Psyche”, works of great artists like Fragonard, Rembrandt, Albrecht Dürer, Johannes Vermeer, Eugène Delacroix, Rubens, Titian, Poussin and David. Edmond de Rothschild’s donated collection of 40,000 carved images, 3,000 drawings and 500 illustrated boks. Winged human-headed bull which used as a protective genie at the palace of Sargon II, King of Assyria. And of course memories of Napoleon, large chandeliers, long dining tables and his bedroom…
After a long and busy day at Louvre, it was time for us to hit the road. Stopped by the gift shop and bought tiny copies of the most admirable pieces. Take a glance at Louvre one last time and left the amazing palace with lots of photos and sweet memories.