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Inside the Louvre pyramid

Inside the Louvre pyramid


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Inside the Louvre pyramid
Inside the Louvre pyramid
Inside the Louvre pyramid
Inside the Louvre pyramid
Inside the Louvre pyramid

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Louvre: The museum

The Louvre is one of the greatest museums in the world, holding the rich artistic heritage of the French people from the early Capetian Kings through the Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte and to the present day.

The Louvre is managed by the French state under the Réunion des Musées Nationaux.

The Louvre attracts millions of visitors every year from all over the world, with arguably the best art collection anywhere. Among the thousands of priceless paintings is the Mona Lisa, perhaps the most famous painting in the world. Works of artists like Renoir Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Poussin, David, and Leonardo da Vinci can also be seen. Among the well-known sculptures in the collection are the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo.

Besides art, the Louvre has many other types of exhibits, including archeology, history, and architecture. It has a large furniture collection, with its most spectacular item being the Bureau du Roi of the 18th century.

The most recent significant modification of the Louvre was the "Grand Louvre" project, under president François Mitterrand. This opened the north wing of the building, which had hitherto housed government offices, and covered over several small internal courtyards. Most spectacular of all, it added a glass pyramid designed by the architect I. M. Pei at the center of the palace. The much expanded and re-organized Louvre reopened in 1989.

Louvre: The building

The first royal "Castle of the Louvre" on this site was founded by Philippe II at the end of the 13th century, as a fortress to defend Paris on its west. In the next century, Charles V turned it into a palace, but Francois I and Henri II tore it down to build a real palace; the foundations of the original fortress tower are under the Salle des Cariatides (Room of the Caryatids) now.

The existing parts of the Chateau du Louvre were begun in 1546. Here the architect Pierre Lescot introduced to Paris the new design vocabulary of the Renaissance, which had been developed in the chateaux of the Loire. His new wing for the old castle defined its status, as the first among the royal palaces. J. A. du Cerceau also worked on the Louvre.

During his reign (1589-1610), King Henri IV added the Grande Galerie to the Louvre. More than a quarter of a mile long and one hundred feet wide, this huge addition was built along the bank of the Seine River and at the time was the longest edifice of its kind in the world. Henri IV, a promoter of the arts by all classes of people, invited hundreds of artists and craftsmen to live and work on the building's lower floors. This tradition continued for another two hundred years until Napoleon ended it.

Architect Claude Perrault's eastern wing (1665 - 1680), crowned by an uncompromising Italian balustrade along its distinctly non-French flat roof, was a ground-breaking departure in French architecture. His severe design was chosen over a competing design provided by the great Bernini, who came to Paris for the purpose. Perrault had translated the Roman architect Vitruvius into French. Now Perrault's rhythmical paired columns form a shadowed colonnade with a central pedimented triumphal arch entrance raised on a high, rather defensive basement, in a restrained classicizing baroque manner that has provided models for grand edifices in Europe and America for centuries. The Metropolitan Museum in New York, for one example, reflects Perrault's Louvre design.

The Louvre was still being added to by Napoleon III. The new wing of 1852 - 1857, by archiects Visconti and Hector Lefuel, represent the Second Empire's version of Neo-Baroque, restlessly charged with detail everywhere and laden with sculpture. Works continued until 1876.

I. M. Pei's glass pyramid entrance, 1985 - 1989, providing a modern entrance to the various museums, seems in retrospect to be the inevitable and perfect unobtrusive solution to an impossible design problem. It was highly controversial when it was built.

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All photographs are copyright "Eric Rougier /". Please, do not to use without written authorization.
The pyramid of the Louvre museum: Leoh Ming Pei, architect. "La Geode": Adrien Fainsilber, architect.
The "Grande Arche": Otto van Spreckelsen, architect. Bibliotheque Nationale de France: Dominique Perrault, architect.
Lighting of the Eiffel Tower is copyright "Societe Nouvelle d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel".
Some history texts are licensed to the public under the Creative License and, or wikipedia sources
Zoomify (tm) is a trademark of Zoomify Inc. QuickTime (tm) and QuicktimeVR (tm) are trademarks of Apple Computer.