24 Must-See Masterpieces at the Louvre

The Louvre, home to half a million works of art, is a work of art in itself. Built, altered, expanded, and renovated over the centuries, it retains elements from its 12th-century beginnings, found underground around the lobby area, but Renaissance and French classical styles prevail. The Louvre is said to have inspired the architecture of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Originally constructed in 1190 as a fortress, the Louvre was turned by Francis I into the main residence of French kings in 1546 and remained so until Louis XIV moved to the Palace of Versailles in 1682. Almost every monarch contributed to its expansion over the centuries, including Louis XIII and Louis XIV, both avid art collectors who made major additions. In 1793 the National Assembly decided that the entire building should be used as a museum to hold and display France’s masterpieces. Most recently, as part of a 1980s renovation, I. M. Pei’s now-iconic glass and metal pyramid was built in the museum’s expansive courtyard to serve as the main entrance.

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At any given time, some 38,000 works from the museum’s holdings are on view. This impressive collection is divided into eight curatorial departments. Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings. Millions of visitors come each year to have at least a peek at them. But there is so much beauty around that it may seem impossible to decide where to start. ARTnews is here to help, with our pick of 24 must-see artworks displayed at the Louvre.

Note: The location of each artwork is listed below its description. You can refer to the Louvre’s interactive map to navigate.

Source: artnews.com

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