Foremost French art museum located in Paris. The building was a royal fortress and palace built by Philip II in the late 12th cent. In 1546 Pierre Lescot was commissioned by Francis I to erect a new building on the site of the Louvre.

If you want to see the Mona Lisa this is the place. Of course, it’s behind four inches of bullet proof glass because some idiot thought it would be a good idea to shoot it.

The history of the Louvre began in 1190 when the then King of France, Philippe II Auguste, build a fortress to protect Paris, the kingdom's capital. Is was later used as the house for his successors. When the Renaissance came, it became unfashionable for a King to live in a defensive castle built in the Middle Ages ; thus, Francois I had the main tower destroyed in 1526, and in 1546 he had a more modern and luxurious palace built by Pierre Lescot. The Louvre was continuously expanded by later kings, in the direction of the close-by palace of the Tuileries, until Louis XIV moved the capital to Versailles. Then the palace began to be the showcase for the royal collections of paintings, sculptures and other art objects, though only the priviligied few had access to it.

However with the French Revolution, ideas of art for the masses gained popularity, and in 1793 the Louvre was opened officialy as a museum. Thanks to the success of Napoleon in his wars throughout Europe, many masterpieces were added to the museum's collections. Thereafter, and until very recently, the museum remained unchanged, acquiring new paintings in a space that wasn't getting larger, having to accomodate more and more visitors each year. When Francois Mitterrand became president, he, much like the King of old, decided to change the palace. The Grand Louvre project, which included the construction of a controversial glass pyramid designed by I.M.Pei, was finished in 1997 ; now the whole of the building is devoted to the exhibition of art, making it one of the largest museums in the world, along the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, and a few others.

So large that if you intend to have more than a cursory glance at the most famous object, you must consider spending at least a whole day visiting the museum. Another problem is that since it is one of the main tourist attractions in Paris, and that tourists are not rare in Paris, you will probably have to wait in the long queue besides the pyramid. On the other hand, the Louvre does not hold all of the artworks that are to be seen in Paris. It stops in 1848 ; later work is exhibited in the Musee d'Orsay, and the most recent contemporary art is to be found in the Pompidou Centre.

Yet you will be able to see many masterpieces besides the Mona Lisa - as this one is quite hard to see, behind bulletproof glass and rows of japanese tourists.

Lou"ver, Lou"vre (?), n. [OE. lover, OF. lover, lovier; or l'ouvert the opening, fr. overt, ouvert, p. p. of ovrir, ouvrir, to open, F. ouvrir. Cf. Overt.] Arch.

A small lantern. See Lantern, 2 (a)

[Written also lover, loover, lovery, and luffer.]

<-- 2. same as louver boards; (b) a set of slats resembling louver boards, arranged in a vertical row and attached at each slat end to a frame inserted in a door or window; the slats may be made of wood, plastic, or metal, and the angle of inclination of the slats may be adjustable simultaneously, to allow more or less light or air into the enclosure. -->

Louver boards or boarding, the sloping boards set to shed rainwater outward in openings which are to be left otherwise unfilled; as belfry windows, the openings of a louver, etc. -- Louver work, slatted work.

<-- Louver, v. to supply with louvers; louvered doors, louvered windows -->

 

© Webster 1913.

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