An impressive collection of 482,000 works, The Louvre Museum Paris is now online for everyone to see and for free. In a win for researchers, art collectors and enthusiasts, works from the Louvre and the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix, sculptures from the Tuileries and Carrousel gardens, and ‘MNR’ works, (art recovered after WWII, entrusted to the museum) were uploaded on collections.louvre.fr/en/, on 26 March, 2021.
“Today, the Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known,” says Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Musée du Louvre. “For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage.”
The world’s largest art museum is shut to the public due to the pandemic, but you can now view their full collection virtually. And while you are at it, look out for these must-see treasures.
Venus de Milo
A marble statue of the Hellenistic period, created between 130 and 100 BC. As one of the most recognizable Greek statues, The Venus de Milo was discovered in 1820 on the island of Melos in the Cyclades. The identity of the graceful goddess depicted has been a subject of debate. Experts speculate whether it is Aphrodite, who was often portrayed half-naked, or the sea goddess Amphitrite, who was venerated on Melos. Interestingly, due to World War 2, in 1939, the sculpture was even evacuated to the castle of Valencay, where it remained until 1945.
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne by Leonardo da Vinci
This unfinished oil painting is by the master himself, featuring Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus. It is probable that the painting was commissioned by King Louis XII of France commemorating the birth of his daughter Claude in 1499, but it was never delivered to him. Da Vinci replaced the young Saint John the Baptist in the first sketch by a symbol, the Lamb of God, and slid the Infant Jesus off his mother’s knees towards the ground. The sacrificial lamb clutched by baby Jesus is said to be sign of the passion of Christ.
A courtyard in the Louvre transports you to another world, one filled with the remains of the ancient Palace of Sargon II in Khorsabad, inaugurated in 706 BC. The famous lamassus guarding the entrance depict celestial beings from ancient Mesopotamian religion bearing a human head, and a bull’s body. Known as protective genies called Shedu or lamassu, they were placed as guardians at certain gates or doorways of the city and the palace.
Measuring 4.20 metres, these impressive relics date back to 721-705 BC. The sculptor endowed these bulls with five legs instead of four, which gives the impression of two distinct positions. When viewed from the front, they seem to be at rest, whereas when looking at the work from the side they seem to be in motion.
Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix
This Romanticism era painting commemorates the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X of France. It was a modern subject for Delacroix, but as the painter himself reportedly said, “If I haven’t fought for my country, I will at least paint for her.” A woman of the people with a Phrygian cap personifies the concept of Liberty and holds in her hand the tricolour flag of the French Revolution, which became France’s national flag after the event depicted.
The Crouching Scribe
Also known as Seated Scribe, this sculpture is a bit of a mystery. Nothing is known about the person portrayed, neither his name, title, nor the exact period during which he lived. Made with Limestone this well-known sculpture is a part of the Egyptian Antiquities exhibit. Discovered at Saqqara in 1850, its dated to the period of the Old Kingdom, either the 5th Dynasty, 2450–2325 BCE or the 4th Dynasty, 2620–2500 BCE.
Triad of Osorkon
Another relic from ancient Egypt, this pendant is made of triad of solid gold figures representing Osiris, surrounded by his son, Horus, and his wife, Isis. This precious solid gold and lapis lazuli item of jewellery is a true masterpiece of antique goldwork. The palm leaves on the cornice and the base are fashioned in gold cloisonné inlaid with lapis and red glass. This piece of jewellery seems to be a temple treasure and was discovered in Karnak, near modern day Luxor.
Cladding Panel with a Poetic Joust
Made in the 17th century, this panel is composed of 63 ceramic tiles arranged in 6 rows. It probably comes from a pavilion in the royal complex of Isfahan, an ancient city in Iran. The setting shows a young prince reciting poetry to his teacher. This Islamic Art piece was executed using the technique of painted and glazed ceramics, used in Iran from the 15th century.