I knew the Louvre was going to be huge. I knew the seven hours I planned to spend there wasn’t going to be nearly enough. But I never thought I’d walk away after seeing something for seven hours feeling like I saw nothing. The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world with thousands of square feet of space and millions of exhibits. It houses pieces from classical times to the 19th century. Even with two maps, I got lost wandering the hallways. I had to double back a few times because I ended up in random rooms. The museum is just too big! After seven hours wandering the Louvre looking for The Da Vinci Code, all I could think was a) I hardly feel like I saw anything and b) the Louvre is a bit overrated.
Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. My art interests lie in three places: 1) 18th-century Dutch works, 2) Impressionism, and 3) Post-Impressionism/Pointillism. There’s a small amount of Dutch art in the Louvre, but overall, it’s not my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong—the Louvre has many masterpieces that deserve your attention, and no matter what your art preference is, you should at least see the Louvre for a day to get a feel for its size, collection, and place in the world.
That said, I wouldn’t go back to the Louvre. I saw what I wanted to see. Why should you go back to a place you aren’t interested in? I’m going to save the debate about whether or not there are really any truly “must sees” in the world of personal preference, but I’ll say that while the Louvre is worth a visit, returning really depends on what you consider art. Seeing a lot of religious paintings and Greco-Roman statues is not my idea of art. I did see some pieces of art I liked, though. What were they? The highlights of the Louvre for me were:
Virgin on the Rocks– I love Leonardo paintings, and this famous one is interesting to me because of the supposed hidden messages in it. This is an earlier version of the painting. He supposedly had to redo it because it was deemed anti-Christian. The later version is in the National Gallery in London.
The Coronation of Napoleon– This is the biggest canvas the Louvre has. Maybe Napoleon was compensating for his size when he had it commissioned? Who knows. But I do know that I love the detail and the grandeur of this painting. It’s impressive.
Liberty Leading the Way– This is a classic image of the French Revolution. Liberty is uniting all walks of life against tyranny. I’ve seen this painting in a few books, and it was good to see it in real life.
I enjoyed going to the Louvre and seeing these works of art. But while getting lost in the hallways was fun, I think, at least for me, that the Louvre was a one-time visit. It was good to see, but the multitude of Impressionist museums in Paris will have my repeat business.