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The paintings of Louvre Museum – French school

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The Crucifixion (1457-1459), Andrea Mantegna (The Crucifixion (1457-1459), Andrea Mantegna, tempera on wood)

The Department of Paintings currently has about 7,500 paintings (of which 3,400 are exposed), covering a period that goes from the Middle Ages to 1848 (date of the beginning of the Second Republic). By including the deposits, the collection is, with 12,660 works, the largest collection of ancient paintings in the world. With rare exceptions, the works after 1848 were transferred to the Musée d’Orsay when it was created in 1986.

The collection consists initially of works belonging to the royal collection and has subsequently expanded thanks to acquisitions (very important under the Second Empire and the Third Republic), legacies and also thanks to the capture of Napoleon Bonaparte (which in its time had also renamed the museum to its name). As early as 1794, the collection was distributed by national schools, and this collection organization has detractors. Thus the Italian primitives are on the first floor, not far from the great French paintings of the Romantic School, while the French primitives are on the second floor, next to the Flemish painting of the seventeenth century. But, whatever the reserves that one can make, it is a succession of masterpieces which parade before the eyes of the visitors.

French school

The Rape of the Sabine Women, Poussin (The Rape of the Sabine Women, Poussin, Oil on canvas, 1635)

Much of the paintings in the museum are works of French painters, making the Louvre a kind of temple of French painting until the nineteenth century: each century is represented by major and often unique works. Such is the case of the Portrait of John II the Good, half of the fourteenth century, the oldest independent portrait preserved since antiquity. From the 15th century, the museum preserves notably the Pietà d’Avignon of Enguerrand Quarton and the Portrait of Charles VII by Jean Fouquet, first portrait where the subject is painted from the front and no longer in profile. For the sixteenth century, the School of Fontainebleau, which dominates the artistic landscape, is very well represented, including a series of portraits and miniatures of Jean and François Clouet, including the famous Portrait of Francis I.

The 17th-century French art, period of development and emancipation of French painting, presents a huge collection punctuated by several masterpieces including The Rape of the Sabine Women and Et in Arcadia ego by Poussin (from which forty works are presented), The Trickster with the Ace of Diamonds by Georges de La Tour or the Portrait of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud. In addition to these painters, Simon Vouet, Valentin de Boulogne, Le Nain brothers, Philippe de Champaigne, Claude Lorrain, Eustache Le Sueur, Laurent de La Hyre, Sebastien Bourdon and Charles Le Brun are also particularly well represented.

For the eighteenth century, the museum contains no less than thirteen works by Antoine Watteau including the Pierrot and The Embarkation for Cythera, twenty-five paintings by Fragonard (including The Lock), thirty Chardin (including The Ray) twenty-two by François Boucher or twenty-six canvases by Hubert Robert. For this period, there are also numerous works by Nicolas de Largillierre, Nicolas Lancret, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Jean-Marc Nattier, Claude Joseph Vernet, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Elizabeth Vige Le Brun and Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes.

Finally, the Napoleonic period and the first half of the nineteenth century are the ultimate flagship of the collection: we find for these periods masterpieces such as The Raft of the Medusa by Géricault, Liberty Leading the People of Delacroix, Grande Odalisque of Ingres or The Coronation of Napoleon by David. All these painters are represented by a large number of other major works: we can quote for David Oath of the Horatii or The Intervention of the Sabine Women, for Ingres The Turkish Bath and The Valpinçon Bather, for Delacroix The Death of Sardanapalus and The Massacre at Chios, and for Géricault The Charging Chasseur and The 1821 Derby at Epsom. The museum also preserves works by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, Girodet-Trioson, François Gerard, Antoine-Jean Gros, Louis-Leopold Boilly, Alexander-Gabriel Decamps, Eugene Isabey, Theodore Chasseriau, Hippolyte Flandrin, Theodore Rousseau, Jean- François Millet and the world’s largest collection of paintings by Camille Corot with some 81 paintings.

Translated from Wikipedia

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