The Louvre is a museum located in the first arrondissement. The museum includes over 35,000 famous sculptures, works of arts, and paintings. For example, the museum holds the renowned Mona Lisa and Madonna and Child with Saint Anne by Leonardo da Vinci. The Egyptian collection is one of the largest Egyptian collections (James 1).
The museum has one of the richest collections in the world and represents a wide variety of examples of European art. The Louvre opened in 1793. The French revolution had just taken off and was during the peak of the revolution. I find it interesting that it opened during the worst part of the French revolution. Personally, I would not want to open a museum with valuable paintings contained inside, during a revolution. With paintings worth that much, I would not risk a museum being open when towns people are revolting against the city.
The Louvre is also a underground complex of offices, shops, exhibition spaces, parking areas, an auditorium, a cafeteria and tourist bus depot (Britannica 2). Out of 380,000 pieces of art housed in the Louvre, only 35,000 are on display. The woman painted in the Mona Lisa has been debated for many years. USA Today says, “The official word from the Louvre, an opinion shared by many art historians, is that the woman in the painting is Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo — a Florentine silk merchant. Other experts dispute this claim, citing lack of historical evidence; they think Lisa Gherardini was perhaps confused with Lisa del Giocondo, who was actually the sister-in-law of Lisa Gherardini”(Morgan 1).
When I first saw the Mona Lisa I thought it was a painting of either da Vinci’s mother, his girlfriend or his sister. It made sense for it to be a painting of a a girl he had feelings for or someone he cared about. Over 8 million people visit the Mona Lisa. The painting was extremely valuable.
Today, the Mona Lisa is worth $810 million(Wikipedia 1). I always heard the story of the Mona Lisa being stolen, I never did research on it until now, I researched this claim I heard, and the results were true. The Mona Lisa was “stolen in 1911 and was not recovered until two years later in 1913″(Mckenzie 1). The theft of this painting made it even more famous because the entire world was trying to figure out how someone could have gotten away with a crime like this.
I can’t imagine how a famous painting, like this one in particular, could be stolen off of the walls with such ease. I suppose back in that day technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is today and there were no cameras or machines to protect the paintings. The man who stole the painting was the same man who put the painting under the protective glass and made the frame that the painting was placed into. The criminal wanted to return the painting to Italy where he thought it should belong. He believed because it was an Italian style painting, it should be displayed in Italy with other Italian style paintings. He saw stealing the painting as an heroic act and stealing and returning the painting to Italy was doing a favor to the people of Italy. He waited until a Monday to steal the painting.
The Louvre was not open to the public on Mondays and because he was an employee at the Louvre, he could grant access inside and no one would suspect a thing.. At the time when he stole the painting, the guards were taking a smoke break. Of course he had the perfect opportunity to steal the painting and he could do so with ease. After the painting was stolen I cannot imagine how dim witted the guards felt for letting an extremely valuable painting disappear right under their noses. He picked up the Mona Lisa and carried it to the service staircase. This is where he separated the painting from the frame, the same frame he help build.
After he successfully got the painting out of the frame, he attempted to get out of a locked door by breaking the door knob off. His attempt to break off the door handle didn’t work. So he went to the back door instead. Again, technology in today’s world would have security sensors, security cameras, and would never leave paintings unattended.
The description of how the painting was stolen reminds me slightly of my favorite movie, “National Treasure”. In the movie the main character steals the Declaration of Independence and successfully does so. He separates the frame and the protective glass in the service elevator. He also gained access by posing as a worker in the area the Declaration was being held. All the guards at the time were being preoccupied by another event, making it easier for the main character to steal one of the most valuable and important artifact of American history. Maybe the writer for this movie got their idea from this story of how the Mona Lisa was stolen.
The painting now stands behind a glass wall surrounded with security guards and advanced technology such as bullet proof glass and a climate controlled room so the painting does not get deteriorated and keeps the image of what it first looked like after it was completed many years prior. According to sources, when Napoleon first laid eyes on the Mona Lisa, he became infatuated with the painting. He loved it so much, he had it hung in his private bedroom. He also was reported admiring her beauty for hours upon hours (Amarante 1). I also wonder if the person who stole the painting, sold fake copies of the Mona Lisa to millionaires. People who go to see the painting are disappointed and in shock. The painting is very tiny. With today’s technology, I wonder how many paintings could survive another couple hundred years without climate controlled rooms.
Historical documents, artifacts and paintings cannot stand alone and must be kept in specially personalized environment to make sure the document, artifact or painting does not age with time and holds its former glory for many centuries to come. The documents, artifacts and paintings must be preserved as soon as they are found so that they do not get damaged anymore than they already might have been. Sadly, many of the artifacts found over a century ago were not preserved and were exposed to the harsh environment and were not treated with care. Many artifacts,documents and paintings have been destroyed because of lack of proper maintenance.
The original intent of the Louvre was to be used as a portrait and as protection for the Persians because they believed the Vikings were coming to destroy their city. The louvre was originally built in 1190 by Philip II. Foundations of the Louvre date back to the 12th century. It was also where Louis XIV lived in the end of the 18th century. Louis XIV “declared the Louvre palace should be the home of the most notable french paintings and the royal collection”(Vallieres 1). when Louis XIV died and his palace became government property. The museum was also a holding spot for stolen Nazi paintings during WWII. It was also changed in the 1300s into a royal palace by Charles V (Morgan 1).
According to sources, “A mummy called Belphegor is said to haunt the museum”(James 2). When the museum first opened it was only opened for museum purposes. The Louvre had major updates in the late 1900s to make it more convenient to visitors. A travel book explains, “To this end, a vast underground complex of offices, shops, exhibition spaces, storage areas, and parking areas, as well as an auditorium, a tourist bus depot, and a cafeteria, was constructed underneath the Louvre’s central courtyards of the Court Napoléon and the Cour du Carrousel”(Britannica 1). It has been remodeled as well as updated with luxury amenities. The museum holds very old works of art but is also keeping up with the latest and greatest styles and technology while still maintaining the traditional style. I think it is important to keep the traditional style to really allow people to connect with the history and what the place was at a certain point. Renovations are obviously required but can be done while still keeping the original atmosphere.
Many museums I go to today are modernised and I cannot connect with the information being displayed. When museums makes it seem like you are actually apart of the history, visitors connect more with the artwork. Works CitedThe Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Louvre Museum.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 14 Nov. 2017, McKenzie, Sheena.
“Mona Lisa: The Theft That Created a Legend.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 Nov. 2013, www.
cnn.com/2013/11/18/world/europe/mona-lisa-the-theft/index.html.Morgan, Lee, and Leaf Group. “Facts on the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, “List of Most Expensive Paintings.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Jan. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_paintings.