I made 2 trips to the Louvre while I was in Paris. The museum, housed in the former royal palace of the French kings, was even more vast than I had anticipated, and I've lived with the huge Metropolitan Museum in New York for over 20 years now. I got lost in the place twice, and I usually can find my way around museums.
The Louvre itself is a major monument. It began as 2 royal palaces, as the Louvre, the palace created out of the former fortress built by King Philippe Auguste in the 13th century; and as the Tuileries palace and gardens built for Catherine de Medici in the 16th century. The Grand Gallery was originally built to connect the 2 palaces. The palaces were gradually incorporated into a single immense palace by later rulers such as Louis XIV, Napoleon, and Louis Napoleon. The Tuileries Palace is no more. It was destroyed in the Paris Commune Uprising in 1871. The Gardens remain.
Below are my photographs. They are available to everyone especially educators. I'm not sure that there is much that would be useful. My trusty digital camera had trouble with the lighting in the place, and with the fact that so many paintings are under glass; unfortunately a necessary precaution after a lunatic destroyed a major Rembrandt in an acid attack in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg in 1985.
King Louis loved the grandeur of the Baroque style, but hated the theatricality. The architect Claude Perrault beat out such a major competitor as Bernini with his very grandly officious four-square design with doubled columns. It is a very coolly straight-forward first major monument of French classicism; to my mind an admirable if not very lovable building.
It certainly was a very influential building on later architecture throughout Europe and in the USA.
I usually begin my teaching of the High Renaissance with this painting. It was a major break with painting of the day with its mysterious shadows, figures linked formally and psychologically, and especially the artist's very personal and idiosyncratic interpretation of the subject.
This painting was a little smaller than I expected.
A colleague of mine from the Bronx saw this picture I took of the mob in front of the painting and quoted Robert Hughes, "they came to have seen, but not to see."
On the one hand, Veronese's work is about as deep as a paper cup. On the other, it is so beautifully painted. This painting was admired and copied by artists from Delacroix to Renoir for its vivid and harmonious colors.
My photo did not turn out all that well.
I agree with Rubens who enthusiastically admired this painting and urged King Charles I of England to buy it. It's one of Caravaggio's most focused and humane dramas. The grief feels genuine in this picture, and never was his tenebrism used so well with such subtlety as in this picture.
There was a gallery full of Poussin's work to admire in the Louvre.
To our eyes, the whole cycle is ridiculous using a language of allegory and personification that is completely alien to us now. Rubens probably knew it was all bullshit, but he worked on this series enthusiastically because it was a chance to make a name for himself in history, and because he really believed in the absolute monarchy even if he didn't believe much in Marie de Medici.
Of course it's all bullshit, but was bullshit ever more spectacularly well painted? Even that famously ambivalent skeptic Delacroix admired these paintings enough to copy them repeatedly.
There are a lot of great Rembrandts in the Louvre, but the Bathsheba was not up when I was there; a rare disappointment.
A magnificent painting that gets better and better as I get to know it over the years. It was a great pleasure to see this painting in person.
I only saw a part of the Louvre. I deliberately concentrated on painting this trip. I did not try to see all of the museum, although trying to cover most of the painting collection was exhausting.
I missed the museum's sculpture collection, and its celebrated ancient art collections. I will just have to save those for a future trip.