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10 Must-See Items in the Louvre in Paris, France

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Posted September 24th, 2009 by havefunt

No visit to Paris would be complete without visiting the Louvre Museum.  With a history nearly as rich as that of some of the items in its collection, art lovers and history buffs alike stand in awe of much of the museum’s contents.  With so many separate collections, though, it can be difficult to construct a must-see list in order to make sure that you see the best of what the Louvre has to offer.  When visiting the Louvre, you should make sure that you take the time to view the following ten items in the museum’s collections.

Mona Lisa
The pride of the Louvre, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most famous paintings on the planet.  Many visitors are surprised to find that the painting is a bit smaller than they expect it to be, and may be slightly disappointed that the painting must be viewed behind thick glass.  The Mona Lisa is still not to be missed, though, as words cannot describe the experience of seeing it with your own eyes.

Madame de Pompadour's Sèvres Vases
Chief mistress of King Louis XV of France, Madame de Pompadour was able to appreciate the finest of art and philosophy that France had to offer.  She and Louis XV helped to found the first porcelain factory in the Sèvres region, and her collection of fine vases remains preserved in the Louvre.

Winged Victory of Samothrace
Also known as the Nike of Samothrace, this statue was unearthed in 1863 and is believed to have been carved around 203 B.C.  Featuring amazing detail that brings to mind both glory and action, the statue honors not only the goddess Nike but is also considered to be a tribute to a battle on the sea.

Venus de Milo

Known to some as the Aphrodite of Milos, this famous statue was originally carved between 130 and 100 B.C. in ancient Greece.  Though portions of the statue have been lost to time, the sculpture shows the grace and beauty that the ancient Greeks revered in the goddess Aphrodite and is one of the most famous examples of sculpture in the world.

Napoleon III's Apartments

The first President of the French Republic and the last monarch of France, Napoleon III is generally not as well known by history as his uncle, Napoleon Bonaparte.  Though he has a lasting legacy in the rebuilding of Paris, by many he is better known for the beautiful furnishings that are left behind from his holdings and featured in the Louvre’s collections.

Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave

A pair of sculptures by Michelangelo, Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave were originally designed for the tomb of Pope Julius II.  The marble figures remain as examples Michelangelo’s great work and feature a number of symbolisms representing the frivolity of earthly pursuits.

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss

Considered to be one of the greatest examples of the Neoclassical movement’s obsession with emotion, Antonio Canova's Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss features a beautiful depiction of the scene immediately following the restoration of life to Psyche by Cupid’s love.  It should be noted that the version appearing in the Louvre is an earlier version of the work, with a later version of the work being housed by the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and the plaster cast used in the creation of this later version being held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Islamic Art Collection

Though not an individual item, the Islamic Art Collection at the Louvre should not be missed as it contains some of the most beautiful examples of art from the Islamic world.  The collection features over 5000 pieces and over 1000 shards of artwork created over the course of thirteen centuries across three continents.  Highlights of the collection include the Pyxide d'al-Mughira, the Baptistery of Saint-Louis, the Shroud of Josse, three pages of the Shahnameh, and the Barberini Vase

The Code of Hammurabi

Standing over seven feet tall, the Code of Hammurabi prominently displays the laws of ancient Babylon so that no man could claim to be ignorant of the law when found to be breaking it.  Not only is the carving an impressive sight, but the history and significance of the first recorded laws makes it a sight not to be missed.

The Large Sphinx

Guarding the Egyptian Collection in the Louvre, the Large Sphinx or Great Sphinx of Tanis is one of the largest sphinx sculptures in existence outside of Egypt.  Bearing the inscriptions of pharaohs Ammenemes II, Merneptah, and Shoshenq I, the sphinx prepares visitors for the wonder of the Egyptian relics contained in the Louvre’s collection.

Photograph Source Wikimedia Commons

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