Paris’s Musée du Louvre is one of the best acclaimed museums in the world, and has accurately becoming its animated reputation. From the expertly adamant Venus de Milo and Winged Victory at Samothrace sculptures to admirable paintings by masters like Vermeer and Caravaggio, the Louvre houses some of the best important works in all of art history. But there’s affluence that you apparently don’t apperceive about this institution—and we’re not aloof talking about those anecdotes you best up in the Da Vinci Code. (And, no: I.M. Pei’s bottle pyramid does not accept 666 bottle panels; it has 673.)
We broke a few trusted bounded guides, including Marcel Widjaja, a bout adviser with GetYourGuide Originals, and Daisy de Plume, architect of THATMuse, a architecture bout operator, to clue us in to the museum’s abounding secrets, from the history of the architecture itself, to the artworks that adhere aural it. Here are 13 things you didn’t apperceive about the Louvre.
The arresting structures that accomplish up the Musée du Louvre accept as acclaimed a history as its artwork. Originally commissioned as a breastwork by Baron Philip II in 1190 to assure the burghal of Paris, the Louvre became a aristocratic abode in the 14th century, during the aphorism of Charles V. Then, in the 16th century, the aboriginal Medieval anatomy was razed and replaced with an alike above Renaissance one by Baron Francis I, which was consistently added assimilate by alternating French monarchs. It wasn’t until 1793, during the French Revolution, that the architecture clearly opened its doors as the Louvre Museum.
Talk about a adequate set-up: Until 1989, “you would accelerate your tax acknowledgment to the Louvre,” area the admiral active the building’s Richelieu wing, says Widjaja. But in the backward 1980s, then-president François Mitterrand absitively to address the absolute amplitude to the arts, booting the admiral out of its deluxe address and into a massive alembic of a architecture in Bercy, in the far eastern alcove of Paris.
That’s right—you can get your amount in art history appropriate from the antecedent itself. Set in the Aile de Flore (the river-facing addition of the museum) is the École du Louvre, an academy of college apprenticeship committed to the abstraction of archaeology, anthropology, art history, and epigraphy. Founded in 1882, the academy is principally a training arena for approaching curators and excavators (and alike some Louvre bout guides themselves, like Widjaja).
When the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in November 2017, it fabricated a big splash; but alike that’s not the alone added Louvre around. In the above atramentous mining boondocks of Lens, up in arctic France, you’ll acquisition the striking, SANAA-designed Louvre-Lens, a accessory of the Louvre proper. Opened in 2012, the amplitude shows aloof a baby atom of works from the Louvre’s massive art collection. And admitting its area far alfresco the city centermost of the country ability assume odd, it’s absolutely intentional. “It’s a activity which brings the ability to the people, abnormally in a arena area a lot of bodies accept alive chic backgrounds,” says Widjaja. “They don’t necessarily appear to Paris, so the architecture comes to them.”
If you’ve anytime apparent a painter in activity at the Louvre, you’ve apparently been analytical about them—least of all, how they austere security. But the artists are absolutely allotment of a attitude that harks all the way aback to 1608, aback Henri IV aboriginal arrive artists to the Louvre Palace to archetype artwork from the aristocratic collections. “An artist’s apprenticeship wasn’t activity to art school, but artful the old masters,” says Widjaja. “The artists could afresh alive in the Louvre, and archetype the artworks.” The affairs continues today, admitting with a hardly added accurate appliance action (and no action of active space), selecting aloof 150 to 200 accomplished artists to absorb three months painting in the museum. If you administer to get off the two-year waitlist, it’s an angry befalling to try your duke at replicating some of the world’s best admired artworks.
Among Louis XIV’s best-known accomplishments is the Palace of Versailles—and accurately so. The arresting complex, with its Hall of Mirrors and meticulous, André le Nôtre-designed gardens, is an absurd accomplishment of design; but its construction, and the French aristocratic court’s consecutive move there from the Louvre in 1682, meant that the Louvre Palace sat unoccupied, falling added into disrepair. “People, abnormally artists, squatted there in the ruins,” says Widjaja. “You couldn’t alike brainstorm it.” It wasn’t until added than 100 years later, afore the French Revolution took authority in the backward 1700s, that the admirable circuitous was already afresh abounding to by the country’s monarchs.
Picasso, who assuredly acclimatized in Paris in 1904, had already had acquaintance with baseborn art by the time the Mona Lisa was aerial from the Louvre in 1911. He’d acquired a set of Iberian sculptures from the secretary of his friend, the artisan and author Guillaume Apollinaire, that angry out to additionally accept been baseborn from the architecture in the aboriginal 1900s.
As for the Mona Lisa, Piccaso was still active in Paris aback the painting went missing, and was initially accounted a suspect—but the absolute bandit was an Italian immigrant called Vincenzo Perugia, who believed that Napoleon had bare Italy of its masterpieces during his activity of the country. In fact, the Mona Lisa, or La Jaconde, had absolutely been able to Francis I by Da Vinci himself aback in the 16th century. The baron had “poached Leonardo in 1517 from the Milanese Sforza family, apartment the artisan at an Amboise chateau,” which is why the Louvre houses bristles of the beneath than two-dozen paintings attributed to the artist, says de Plume. Alike so, Perugia was fêted by some in Italy as a civic hero.
Until 1971, no active artist’s assignment had been apparent in the Louvre—that account was aloof for the dearly departed—but that afflicted that October, aback a alternative of Picasso’s pieces went on affectation in the museum’s Grande Galerie to bless the artist’s 90th birthday. Allocution about active history.
The assignment in question, Veronese’s Wedding Feast at Cana, is the better painting in the absolute museum, at added than 700 aboveboard feet, a actuality that fabricated its access in the architecture absolutely a chore. Aback Napoleon baffled Italy in 1797, he raided the country’s monasteries and churches for artwork to accompany aback to France, one actuality Veronese’s masterpiece, from the amphitheater of Venice’s San Giorgio Maggiore. In adjustment to carriage the massive painting home, he had it broken in half. Today, you can still see the band area the painting was cut and put aback together. The bedridden aboriginal still hangs in the Louvre, while a archetype now hangs in the pillaged Venetian monastery’s refectory. But it’s not the alone time that artwork has been hustled in or out of the museum.
In 1939, at the alpha of Germany’s invasions, then-director of the Musées Nationaux, Jacques Jaujard, had a anticipation that France would be occupied. His apprehension would prove actual in 1940, aback France fell beneath German occupation. To abstain the assured bloodthirsty of the architecture by the Nazis, he abiding for about 4,000 of its best cogent artworks, including the Mona Lisa, to be confused to the Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley, a two-hour drive southwest of Paris. The aftermost allotment to move, the Winged Victory at Samothrace sculpture, clearly larboard the architecture on September 3, 1939, the aforementioned day the French claiming to Germany expired. The pieces were afresh clandestinely confused throughout the war, to balk theft.
Everyone knows that the Louvre is home to a ton of art—but you’d be afraid at aloof how much. It would booty you about 200 canicule to see anniversary of the 35,000 works of art on affectation at the architecture if you took 30 abnormal to see anniversary and every piece, according to Widjaja. Considering the architecture owns almost 550,000 works, best of which it keeps bound up in storage, that’s actually not alike bisected of it. And allocution about demography up space: “If you took the abounding levels of the Louvre and continued them out, allowance afterwards room, the architecture would admeasurement eight miles, or the breadth of the Seine,” says de Plume.
Steal abroad from the added acclaimed (and well-trafficked) masterpieces to analysis out the still-intact, uber-lavish claimed apartments of Napoleon III, who served as both admiral and emperor of France in the mid-19th century. The rooms, which are on affectation on the aboriginal attic in the Richelieu wing, and accommodate a academic accompaniment dining allowance and a gilded cartoon room, are prime examples of the elaborate, 18th-century bizarre aesthetic.
There’s a assertive abundance in revisiting your admired pieces of art at a museum. You airing through the doors, and apperceive absolutely area to acquisition it. But the Louvre doesn’t action that aforementioned reassurance, back artworks change abode all the time. “It’s absolutely absorbing because you can go to the Louvre several times and consistently acquisition altered artworks in the galleries,” says Widjaja. “As a guide, it’s sometimes a little bit embarrassing, because of course, cipher tells us that the art is moving. I ability advertise a painting in the alpha of the bout because I anticipate it’s still in its spot, but it’s been taken abroad for restoration, or to be lent to addition museum.”
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