Are you planning to visit Louvre Museum in Paris soon? But worried about how will you visit, we are going to give you a tour of the museum with all the information you need. This guide will also talk about the most visited artworks at the Louvre.
First thing first, if you are in Paris for a couple of days, you can visit all the collections. But if you have a short time, you can only explore the highlights. For a standard tour, at least you need around 2-3 hours. However, in this short time, you can see quite a lot with a guided tour.
The Louvre houses almost 35,000 artworks spread over more than 60,000 square meters. Every year around 10 million visitors visit the Louvre and a lot of them visit the famous works only. In other words, you are not alone, you just need to be smart. However, we are going to tell you everything you need to know. So, stop overthinking in the planning phase, we are going to prevent you from fainting.
Background of The Louvre
Louvre Palace and its collections belonged to the French kings until the second French revolution. And the good days came for art lovers when the last king, Louis XVI was executed by Guillotine during the French Revolution (1789–1799). Therefore, we can say that the museum is a child of the revolution. For the first time, Louvre opened its doors to the common people in 1793.
The Louvre Museum spreads its 60 thousand square meters of premises on the river Seine. But you must know that it was not a museum before the revolution. Rather the fort was being used as the royal residence of the king of France from the 12th century when a fort was built on the property.
Since the establishment of the first fort in the 12th century, Louvre has expanded time-to-time. But the Sun King, Ludvik XIV wanted to expand even more. Since then, The Louvre’s art collections have filled up with important artworks from around the world. To house the 35,000 artworks, several buildings have been used along the way including the most visited artworks that are today considered the most artistic masterpieces.
When you search on the internet, you will see a glass pyramid in the courtyard of the museum. But it was never a part of the royal expansion. Rather it is the latest addition to the Louvre designed by architect IM Pei. It was inaugurated in 1989. Now it is another attraction for tourists and art lovers who cannot visit Egypt to see the great pyramid of Giza.
Jokes apart, you must be thinking about what Louvre offers anyway.
What to Expect at the Louvre?
Do you remember, it contains 35000 artworks? So, think not, it has more than you can imagine. The collections include mostly, paintings, sculptures, and handicrafts from around the world. However, French paintings and sculptures have the most share. But don’t be disappointed, there are a lot of art collections, maybe some of them are from your country.
Doesn’t matter if French artworks have the biggest share, Italian High Renaissance including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Greek antics like Winged Victory and many other foreign arts steal the show always.
Besides, you get to see a lot of antiquity from the Egyptian and Assyrian periods. However, as we have said the most visited artworks at Louvre are from countries other than France.
You should also know that Louvre is the home to the world’s oldest art collections. And you will find very few works from after 1850. If you love modern or impressionist art, it must be disappointing because there are almost no works from the genre.
For visitors, the map of the Louvre is very confusing. You will find three main buildings, called Denon, Richelieu and Sully. However, there is no clue after what they are named. The most satisfying thing is, that the buildings are connected. So, you can visit the museum without noticing if you go from one building to another. And the museum has several floors where galleries are spread.
Decide What to See
We started saying that if you have a few days, you might not think about what to see. But if you are visiting for 2-3 hours, you must see the selected works, namely the most visited artworks. Now you decide.
However, in a short time, you must take a planned tour of 2 hours. The guided tour will show you the most important pieces alternatively, the most visited artworks. The planned tours take place takes place several times a day. But, if you cannot catch up with the group tour, you have to prepare your own program. If so, make sure you visit Louvre’s website and get a better idea of the museum map. You will get the opportunity to know about the highlights.
However, we are going to give you a list below that contains some of the most famous artworks by master artists. Moreover, this is the list that contains some of the most visited artworks in the Louvre.
Which Entrance to Take
If you are interested to see the magnificent Glass Pyramid, you are welcome to take the entrance there. But if you have a short time, you should avoid the glass pyramid entrance. Otherwise, if you are unlucky you might have to stand in a long queue. Therefore, we suggest you take the Galerie du Carrousel or Porte des Lions entrances instead.
Those in love with the Glass pyramid or curious can book a ticket in advance. You will see the recent art and at the same time will go in front of the queue easily.
Explore the Most Visited Artistic Masterpieces at Louvre
01. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
The most famous artwork at Louvre is, without any doubt, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. It is one of the most expensive paintings in the world according to its estimated net worth. And among many, it is one of the most visited artworks at the Louvre. It was painted around 1503-1505 by the Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci. Though you have already seen this painting in pictures, you must stand in front of her for some time. Otherwise, we would say your Louvre visit is in vain.
2. The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault
Maybe you don’t know the name of the artist by the name, but most art lovers know the Raft of Medusa. It is an oil painting by the French artist, Theodore Gericault that dates back to 1819. Moreover, it is the most famous French domestic art at the Louvre. You will find French romanticism in this painting and it has become an icon of the genre. Most importantly, the painting is made on a real event that took place in 1816. Then, a French naval ship called Friged Meduse got wrecked and the painting depicts the aftermath. You get to know more on your visit for sure.
3. Winged Victory of Samothrace – Hellenistic Art
Winged Victory from ancient Greece is a perfect piece of art to explore. It is a headless sculpture built in 190 BC approx. You must be informed about Hellen described in Iliad, as the most beautiful woman who ever existed. Yes, this sculpture is from that Hellenistic period. It is a marble sculpture with two wings but the hands and head are missing. In addition, the statue is of the Greek goddess of victory.
4. The Venus de Milo – Hellenistic Art
Venus de Milo is another Hellenistic art from 150 – 125 BC. It is an ancient Greek sculpture popular among visitors to the Louvre Museum. It became one of the most iconic sculptures with broken arms. They are actually broken, not made this way. You must have heard about the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. Yes, you thought right! The Venus de Milo is believed to be her statue.
5. The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David
The Coronation of Napoleon is a 20ft by 32ft oil painting by the French artist Jacques Louis David. This gigantic piece of art represents the artistic value of France and is one of the most visited artworks on the record. If you are visiting the Louvre, you must not leave without standing 5 minutes in front of this.
6. Rebellious Slave and Dying Slave – Michelangelo
Among Michelangelo’s famous works, the Rebellious Slave is being displayed at the Louvre. It was created by the master sculptor in 1513. Besides, his other work named “Dying Slave” is also a famous artist in the collection of the Louvre Museum. It is believed that The Dying Slave was created between 1513-1516. So, both of the sculptures are at your sight and you must experience Michelangelo in your short tour.
7. Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix
Liberty Leading the People by the French artist Eugene Delacroix is a highly celebrated art from 1830. This masterpiece commemorates the second French revolution and thus is one of the most important artworks in France. In the painting, you will see bare-breasted women with the flag leading the people representing liberty itself. When it comes to liberty, a picture of women is seen around the world.
8. Bathsheba at Her Bath by Rembrandt
The most famous Dutch Baroque at the Louvre, Bathsheba in the Bath is a must-visit artwork. It was painted by the famous Dutch artist Rembrandt in 1654. And now it is one of the most visited artworks at the museum. You can also pay a visit to his Philosopher in Meditation there. The painting shows Bathsheba taking bath while holding a later in her hand.
9. The Lacemaker by Johannes Vermeer
The Lacemaker is another Dutch Baroque at the Louvre that most visitors pay attention to. It is a masterpiece created in 1669–70 by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. In the painting, you see a young woman dedicatedly making lace while holding bobbins in her hands. To eliminate any kind of distraction, the painter has put a blank background. As a visitor, you can see the representation of Vermeer’s time very clearly.
10. The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese
Among the most visited treasures of the Louvre, you must not miss the Wedding at Cana. It is an oil painting by the Italian artist Paolo Veronese. This large piece of art is 267 x 391 in work painted in 1563. It shows a wedding feast where Jesus is present and it is where he turns water into red wine. If you look closely, the table scene looks very similar to the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Maybe it is similar because Paolo followed the stylistic ideal and compositional harmony of Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael. So if you are at the Louvre, you must visit this painting because it will give you a closer look at the other prolific artists and their works.
11. The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne – Leonardo da Vinci
Despite being an unfinished painting, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne became a masterpiece hanging on the wall of the Louvre. Of course, it was painted by the master Leonardo da Vinci, so why wouldn’t it be. This oil painting was made between 1503 and 1519.
12. The Card Sharp with the Ace of Diamonds by Georges de la Tour
Made between 1636–38 by the French Baroque artist Georges de la Tour, The Card Sharp with the Ace of Diamonds is one of the most visited artworks at the Louvre. It is also called “The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds” by many. This painting shows a group of card players including a woman and a teenage boy while a young man on the left is cheating with the Ace of diamonds. So, if you are visiting the Louvre, you must see this artwork.
13. Maria de’ Medici Cycle by Rubens (A collection of 24 Paintings)
If you like Ruben or want to find many of the greatest arts in one place, The cycle in the Richelieu wing of the Louvre is the best part to explore. Together you will find 24 of the Rubens’ masterpieces on a single model, Maria de Medici, wife of Henry VI of France. This Flemish baroque by Rubens was complete in two years (1622 – 24) and it depicts Maria’s struggles and triumphs in her life.
14. Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
The Grande Odalisque is one of the most visited artworks at the Louvre. It is an oil on canvas painted in 1814. In the painting, a concubine is lying down nude showing her back looking back on the shoulder. In the beginning, it created a lot of uproars because of its erotic viewpoint. But the contemporary artists saw this as a break from neocolonialism. Now it represents erotic romanticism.
15. The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci
Among the Italian renaissance arts, The Virgin of the Rocks is very famous. It is an oil on canvas painting by the master artist Leonardo da Vinci painted between 1483-86. Though there are two versions of the painting in the world, the Louvre houses relatively the most famous one. Mother Marry is the object here along with child Jesus and John the Baptist. They are also being accompanied by an angel. The painting is sometimes called Madonna of the Rocks and is one of the most visited artworks at the Louvre.