Paris’s Musée du Louvre is consistently the world’s most visited museum—and for good reasons. The grand art museum houses 35,000 masterpieces, from prehistory to contemporary works.
Every year more than 8 million people flock here to enjoy its magnificent treasures. It is one of the reasons Paris is the international arbiter of taste and culture.
With over 600,000 square feet of exhibition space, navigating the enormous museum can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look out for.
The following are popularly selected 10 must-see works of art at the Louvre:
“Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci (1503-1506). “The most famous painting in the world, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (aka La Gioconda or La Joconde) with her mysterious smile and cutting-edge illusionism for the early 1500s. This masterpiece has been on display at the Louvre since 1797. Millions make the pilgrimage to Paris to see the real thing each year.”
“Nike of Samothrace” (c. 190 BC).”The Nike of Samothrace (or Winged Victory) depicts the Greek goddess of Victory as if soaring to new heights. Astounding in its expressive quality, it is considered a Hellenistic tour de force. Certainly would inspire anyone to want to win!”
“Raft of the Medusa” by Théodore Géricault (1818-1819). “Based on a true tabloid-like tragedy of shipwreck and cannibalism, Théodore Géricault painted this icon of French Romanticism at the age of 27. The blood and gore depicted here was based on Géricault’s tireless study in morgues. Of course, everyone then (and now) had to see the painting in the flesh.”
“Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss” by Antonio Canova (1793). “In ethereal white marble, Canova makes vivid the mythical love story of Cupid and Psyche. Beautiful Psyche, who has fallen asleep having been tricked by jealous Venus, is revived by equally handsome Cupid. Shortly thereafter, she drinks ambrosia so that they can be together as gods. This sculpture is stunning from all angles and is a gorgeous rendition of true love.”
“Liberty Leading the People” by Eugène Delacroix (1830). “The political side of the Romantic painter Delacroix comes out in his important work commemorating the French Revolution and the toppling of Charles X. His wild brushstrokes and free use of color amplify the sense of breaking loose from the monarchy. Liberty is charging onwards to victory—an inspiring image that still resonates.”
“Sleeping Hermaphroditos” Roman copy (2nd Century AD). Mattress by Gianlorenzo Bernini (1619). Mesmerizingly supple-looking, this sculpture is a life size copy of a bronze Hellenistic sculpture. In the 17 brilliant artist Bernini made the cushion so realistic that people are tempted to test its firmness. What is special about this beautiful woman? Click to the next slide or investigate in person.”
“The Moneylender and His Wife” by Quentin Metsys (1514). “Flemish artist Quentin Metsys paints with exacting detail all the accoutrements of a greedy husband and wife team of money lenders. You can feel their beady eyes counting the coins and carefully noting the weight of the gold. Don’t borrow from them!”
“Venus de Milo” (c. 130-100 BC). “This Hellenistic sculpture of the goddess of love was discovered on the island of Milo (or Milos). The exquisite Classical workmanship of this period set the standard for Western art as well as its endless obsession with the body. Nowhere is the beauty of the female form more evident than in this incredible masterpiece.”
“Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris on 2 December 1804” by Jacques-Louis David (1806-1807). “The renowned French Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David captures all the grandeur of the Napoleonic reign. Packed with celebrities, including Pope Pius VII and the painter himself, this monumental work is 10 meters wide by 6 meters tall—a magnificent record of French history.”
“Rebellious Slave” by Michelangelo (1513-1516). “Michelangelo’s Rebellious Slave shown in Matthew Pillsbury’s beautiful photo, conveys unbearable torment and suffering. Painter, poet, architect, and more, Michelangelo was trained as a sculptor who said that inside every block of marble was a sculpture to “set free.” Whether a struggle in stone, in the flesh, or in existential terms—Michelangelo nails it here with his jaw-dropping talent.”
Note: All Photos Above Credit by Wikimedia Commons