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Most Famous Paintings At The Louvre
Dawit Abeza
Most Famous Paintings At The Louvre

Most Famous Paintings At The Louvre

The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world and is located in Paris, France. It was a former fortress for the French army and royal palace at one point. However, it now houses famous works of art by great painters, such as Théodore Géricault, Leonardo da Vinci, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and many more. These famous artworks were quintessential to the history of western art.

Famous 20th Century Paintings

The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault

 

The painting was originally titled Scène de Naufrage which means the Shipwreck Scene. The Raft of the Medusa has become a major figure of French Romanticism. It portrays a moment from the result of the destruction of the French naval ship, frigate Méduse. Off the coast of Senegal in 1816, with over 150 soldiers on board. Géricault spent a long time preparing the creation of this composition, the painter studied the story in detail, questioning the survivors, and executed various sketches of The Raft of the Medusa. Géricault even experimented with numerous models and wax figures examined submerged cadavers at the morgue and meticulously designing how he would fill the large canvas. The Raft of the Medusa measures roughly 16 feet by 23.5 feet, the raft itself was 23 feet by 66 feet. The painting seems to represent a sign of hope. The men on the right side of the painting seem to be signaling at a rescue boat, far into the distance. Also, it could be a reference to political negligence and corruption that was occurring during his time. Which severally affected French people yet somehow they survived the suffering. If you are wondering how does the Raft of the Medusa show romanticism? It masterfully mimics life on a heroic scale of human survival and the affliction of nature on ordinary people.

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Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix

 

Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix also known as la Liberte Guidant le Peuple is a composition of the July Revolution of 1830 in France, which eliminated Charles X of France, and reclaimed Bourbon king to royalty. Liberty Leading the People is a huge canvas displaying a woman in the middle of the painting, raising the French flag and carrying a bayonet. The woman is barefooted, and walks over the remains of the defeated, leading a crowd of people. Delacroix began the painting shortly after observing open warfare in the streets of Paris that accompanied protests of the prohibitive ordinances that Charles X published on July 26, 1830. As the leading Romantic painter of the time, Delacroix combined realism and idealism to represent the events of the French Revolution. Delacroix portrayed Liberty as both a symbolic goddess-figure and a strong woman of the people. The heap of corpses acts as a kind of foundation from which Liberty strides, barefoot and bare-breasted. The Phrygian cap she wears had come to symbolize liberty during the first French Revolution, of 1789. The painting has been seen as a marker to the end of the Age of Enlightenment, as many scholars see the end of the French Revolution as the start of the romantic era. Delacroix finished the painting in three months. This is what Delacroix said about the painting to his brother "My bad mood is vanishing thanks to hard work. I've embarked on a modern subject—a barricade. And if I haven't fought for my country at least I'll paint for her."

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Portrait of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud

 

Louis XIV (1638-1715), the child of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria, was one of France's most significant rulers. He administered France from 1643 to 1715 and was known as the Sun King. At the time of the composition, Louis XIV was 63 years of age. He is illustrated wearing his royal celebration robes, his royal sword fastened to his hip, symbolizing his military might, and him holding an illustrious staff. And off course, The crown is on a stool alongside him. Every detail of the painting was intended to emphasize to the observer the supremacy of Louis XIV monarch and his divine authority in France. Louis XIV commissioned the portrait as a present for his grandson Philip V of Spain. However, the portrait was first exhibited at the 1704 Salon and then became part of the Louis XIV Collection. The composition resided in the royal collections until 1793. After the French Revolution war, it was handed over to the Muséum Central des Arts de la République, later known as the Musée du Louvre.

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Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

 

Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, was the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. The composition is one of the world’s most famous paintings painted on a wooden plank. It was painted sometime between 1503 and 1519 when Leonardo was living in Florence. La Gioconda enigmatic smile and her mysterious identity have made the painting a source of continuing research and fascination. The painting displays a woman in the half-body portrait, with a backdrop of natural scenery. La Gioconda sits with her arms folded as she looks at the observer and seems to have a softly smile. The vague nature of her smile makes the iconic painting all the more enigmatic, provoking viewers to try to read both the state of its inspiration and Leonardo da Vinci purpose of painting it. Leonardo da Vinci was an immensely talented artist and his artwork was essential to the Renaissance movement. French King Francis I, in whose court Leonardo consumed the last years of his life, obtained the Mona Lisa after Leonardo's death, and it became part of the imperial art collection. Due to French heritage law, the painting cannot be bought or sold. As part of the Louvre collection, "Mona Lisa" belongs to the people.

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The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David

 

This composition is officially identified as The Coronation of Emperor Napoleon I and the Crowning of the Empress Joséphine in Notre-Dame Cathedral on December 2, 1804. Jacques Louis David was commissioned by Napoleon I to compose a tremendous canvas which represents the brilliance of the emperor’s Coronation while sending its political and symbolic message to the people of France. David pulled inspiration for the design of his painting of Rubens's Coronation of Marie de Medici (in the Louvre). He observed the commemoration first-hand and had most of the observers model for him, He rebuilt the scene with cardboard models and wax dolls. He empathized the protagonists by arranging them in the middle and illuminating them with a radiance of light. This painting reveals the moment that Napoleon turned France back into a monarchy. He brought in Pope Pius VII from Rome to bless him the coronation. This is what Napoleon said when he saw it for the first time, “It is not a painting. There are people walking in this picture. Life is everywhere. David, I salute you. You have made me a French knight.” The composition is one of the biggest (979cm x 621cm) and most extensive artworks in the Louvre.

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Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

 

Grande Odalisque, also known as Une Odalisque or La Grande Odalisque was commissioned by Caroline Murat, Napoleon Bonaparte's sister and wife of Marshal Joachim Murat, King of Naples. There may have been a parallel piece to go with the requested painting. However, due to the collapse of the French monarchy, Ingres never received any payment for the artwork nor was the other piece found. In the composition, Ingres depicts a concubine in a feeble pose as seen from behind. The concept of adopting a reclining woman who looks back over her shoulder at the observer may have come from Jacques-Louis David's culture painting of Madame Recamier.

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Death of the Virgin by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

 

The painting was commissioned in 1601 for the church of Santa Maria della Scala in Rome. However, after the completion of the painting the church thought the artwork was unworthy of the church. The painting is organized around the Virgin, the composition's primary theme. Caravaggio discards the iconography commonly used to symbolize the holiness of the Virgin. The masterpiece reveals the Virgin Mary, who lies dead wearing a plain red dress. Her head and arm are drooping, and her legs are enlarged, which are clear indications that Mary has passed away. The disciples and Mary Magdalene are circling Mary, and many of them have covered their faces not to reveal their pain. The grieving occurs in silence. Mary Magdalene is remaining in the foreground in front of Mary. The old man on the left is presumably Saint Peter and bending next to him is probably St. John. Caravaggio was a genius at using light and shadows in his paintings. In this painting, the light penetrates the chamber from a window on the top left. The light glistens unflatteringly on the shaved heads of the disciples and Mary’s uppermost body. The composition is designed so observers can focus their attention on Mary.

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A Deluge Scene by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson

 

Also known as the Scene of the Flood. Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson received the Prix de Rome for his painting and set off for Italy after his composition. The Grand Prix de Rome was a notable award which was given to art students in France. The expedition to Itlay led the painter to separate from the classicizing approach of painting and he developed his own individual style, his method of painting was a precursor of Romanticism. Girodet was a student of the great French master Jacques-Louis David. After Girodet's death, the artwork was given to the Louvre, along with its predecessor The Sleep of Endymion and its successor The Entombment of Atala (1808).

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Autumn by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

 

Giuseppe Arcimboldo composed a series of "The four seasons”, which he designed the hypothetical aspects of every season with the most prominent typical component of the season being displayed on the artwork. In the season of autumn, he portrays a unique design including fallen leaves, fruits, mushrooms which are mostly common during autumn. “Autumn” also forms the second half of the year and is represented in the painting as a man whose head sticks out of a broken barrel.

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Magdalena bay by François-auguste Biard

 

Magdalena Bay is a masterpiece that was inspired during Biard's expedition to Scandinavia. He produced various sketches which gave rise to the painting of Magdalena Bay. François Auguste Biard was an explorer who loved to travel. He went to the rainforests of Espírito Santo and Amazônia, where he greatly portrayed the native people. Biard was among the very first European artists to engage and represent the native population.

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