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  • Writer's pictureVishakha

6 Paintings at the Louvre Museum You Must Not Miss

Musee du Louvre or the Louvre Museum is home to some of the most famous paintings in the world.  Standing proudly on the banks of the river Seine, this glorious French landmark is spread over 652,300 square feet in Paris. With one of the biggest art collections in the world, wrapped with numerous stories, it is a wonderland in itself.

The Pyramid of the Louvre Museum

If you are planning a visit anytime soon, you should know that it houses over half a million artworks but displays only 35,000 of them. Out of these, just the paintings on display count to 7,500. With these sheer numbers alone, you can guess that seeing all the artwork in a single visit is impossible. To solve your problem, TERAVARNA has curated a list of the best paintings you must not miss at the Louvre.

The Most Famous Paintings and Their Location at the Louvre

Art is a great medium to channel the innermost thoughts of an artist on an outer surface. Apart from the skills of the creator, what makes an artwork popular is the thought put behind it. For a more meaningful experience, we want you to establish a connection with each of these artworks mentioned here. Check out the list so you can appreciate and connect with some of the most famous paintings ever created.

The Mona Lisa | Denon Wing, Room 711

Mona Lisa Painting at the Louvre Museum

Your Louvre trip will always be incomplete if you don’t see the wonder i.e. the Mona Lisa in person. This most expensive painting ever was created by Leonardo Da Vinci somewhere at the beginning of the 16th century. The lady in the frame is Lisa Gherandini Giocondo, a noblewoman from Italy. Hanging behind bulletproof glass, the painting has an entire room to itself.

Ever since its creation, the painting has inspired thousands of artists from across the world who have attempted its recreation. Vinci created this realistic portrait using his signature technique sfumato — an intricate yet subtle gradation of light and shadow. Lastly, don’t miss the mailbox especially dedicated to the lady where people have even dropped love letters to her.

The Raft of Medusa | Dept. of Painting, Mollien Room 700

The Raft of the Medusa Painting at the Louvre Museum

The painting was inspired by a real-life incident of a French frigate named Medusa that ran aground. As refloating seemed impossible, some passengers built a 20-meter raft hoping to tow it back to the coast. 147 people crammed up on the raft and unfortunately got stranded in the middle of the sea. After 4 days of stranding and starvation, gruesome events like cannibalism, insanity, and death started taking place. Eventually, it had only 15 survivors who were spotted and rescued after 13 days by chance. 

Displayed close to the Mona Lisa’s room, this tragic painting was created by French Romantic artist Théodore Géricault in 1819. Created based on the account of the survivors, this is the best work of the 27-year-old artist. The highly controversial painting caused a big stir as it was supposedly a huge criticism of the French monarchy. Due to the contrasts between light and dark, the ghastly depiction of the tragedy, and its emotional impact, this masterpiece is a classic example of French Romanticism.

Liberty Leading the People | Denon Wing, Level 1, Room 700

Liberty Leading the People Painting at the Louvre Museum

Another example of French Romanticism, this painting was created by Eugène Delacroix during the July Revolution in 1830. The revolution was a response of the French citizens to the conservative policies published by Charles X. The violent protests lasted for three days and ended with the abdication of the king. It took Eugène three months to complete this painting that now hangs on the walls of the Louvre Museum.

It has a half-nude female figure leading the protest and has been depicted as the personification of liberty. She is adorned in a yellow dress loosely tied with a red rope around her body barely covering her bosom. This depiction is the same as the resemblance of a heroic figure in Greek art. The lady is hoisting the tricolor French flag and has put on a Phrygian cap, which after this movement became popular as the ‘liberty cap.’ 

The artwork also depicts realistic figures from different walks of life representing their union to protest together. The man in the top hat with a hunting shotgun represents the French upper class. The man next to him is a factory worker, or a craftsman and the young boy on Liberty’s right is a student. At her feet are the fallen figures, one of which is hopefully looking at her. There is also a member of the royal army in a blue coat lying on the ground.

The Coronation of Napoleon | Dept. of Painting, Daru Room 702

The Coronation of Napoleon Painting at the Louvre Museum

The neo-classical, monumental painting of 30 ft. x 22 ft. depicts the coronation of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. His coronation in France was held after Napoleon defeated the papal troops and took over the reins of Rome. He then invited the Pope to officiate — as a gesture to reconcile with Catholics and display his superiority over catholicism. You can spot the emperor standing at the staircase to the altar, and the Pope seated behind him. 

However, what truly made the coronation unusual was when Napoleon took the crown from the Pope’s hand and crowned himself. It was this very move that declared the subordination of the Pope to the French emperor. He then went ahead and placed the imperial diadem on his wife Josephine’s head; declaring her the empress.

The painting was commissioned to Jacques-Louis David — the first painter of the emperor to depict the ceremony. He initially wanted to paint Napoleon crowning himself as the central narrative. However, it was then changed to Napoleon crowning Josephine, adding more drama and a clearer narrative to the frame. You can also spot Napoleon’s mother in the middle of the painting, who never really attended the event. The artist has also painted himself standing in the second gallery along with his family to witness the coronation.

Death of the Virgin | Denon Wing, Room 710

The Death of the Virgin Painting at the Louvre Museum

Declared a madman, this painting was created by the infamous Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Unlike other Italian artists, he was known for dramatically depicting biblical stories and this painting is no different. It was a commissioned work offered to the artist but was later removed from the Carmelite church Santa Maria della Scala. 

The possible reasons for removal were claimed to be the vulgarity of the painting and its depiction of Mary. The mother of Jesus has been portrayed as an ordinary woman counting her last breaths on her deathbed. This depiction of the Virgin Mary is a stark contrast to her usual chaste motherly image. This was enough to irk the followers of the religion. Another reason the church replaced it is because apostles are usually portrayed in a more elegant manner even when they didn’t know of wealth but Caravaggio didn’t follow that.

The Wedding Feast at Cana | Dept. of Painting

The wedding feast at Cana painting at the Louvre Museum

With the title of the biggest painting displayed at the Louvre Museum, The Wedding Feast at Cana had to be on the list. However, its epic size isn’t the only reason to include this painting by Veronese on the list. It depicts the biblical scene where upon Mary’s request, Jesus turned water into wine. However, what makes it unique is the blend of a story from the bible with the nuances of the Venetian society at the time of its creation.

If we go by the accounts in the Bible, the scene should have included a much poorer crowd as compared to the nobles painted. Influenced by the Venetian school of art, Veronese has put a lot of emphasis on adding rich colors to the canvas. The seating of guests has been inspired by the Last Supper painted by Da Vinci. If you wish to see the artist, you can spot him in a white tunic as the musician in the middle.

A Brief History and Introduction of  the Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum was built in 1190 as a fortress before it was turned into a royal residence in 1546. It was home to royalties for over a century until King Louis XIV moved to the Palace of Versailles in 1682. The residing royals here were avid art collectors who acquired a plausible collection at the palace. Eventually, in 1793, the French Government turned the royal building into a museum. This famous art museum was inaugurated on August 10th with 537 paintings on display. 

The massive collection of the Louvre museum is valued at over $35 billion and represents works from European art, the Italian Renaissance, the Baroque period, etc. The collection on display is curated into eight departments and it is best to refer to the museum’s interactive map to guide you.

Witness the Wonders of the Louvre Museum

If you have even the slightest idea of this magnificent museum, you should know that it is a place of wonders. With so many interesting artifacts, paintings, pieces of jewelry, sculptures, tapestries, etc, it is impossible to create an exhaustive list of all our favorite artworks. However, we have still tried to cover some of our top favorite paintings, hoping to give you a small virtual tour of the place. However, this comes nowhere close to the experience of witnessing these masterpieces in person. Hence, if the list got you excited, it is time to take a trip to this wonderland of stories and art — the Louvre Museum!

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