Top 20 Artworks in the Louvre Museum: A Guide to Iconic Masterpieces

The Louvre Museum, with its half a million works of art, stands not just as a storehouse of human creativity but as a masterpiece in its own right.

In its evolution from a 12th-century fortress to a royal residence and, finally, to a museum, it has inspired architectural

Yet, amid this vast collection, visitors often face the daunting challenge of where to begin their journey through art and history.

With so much artwork spanning centuries and cultures, immersing oneself in it without becoming overwhelmed becomes challenging.

Art, after all, is an emotional journey as much as it is visual.

The backstory and context behind each piece enrich the viewing experience, transforming mere observation into an in-depth experience.

However, walking through this huge museum and its artworks without guidance can feel like reading a book with half the pages missing.

Herein lies the solution: a curated guide to the top 20 artworks in the Louvre Museum, selected for their popularity, aesthetic beauty, and historical significance

This guide aims to equip visitors with a basic understanding of these iconic masterpieces, enhancing their appreciation and emotional connection to the art.

It serves not as a replacement for the invaluable insights provided by guided tours but as an initial step to make such tours even more rewarding.

However, before we take a look at the most famous artworks in the Louvre, let’s address a most common question

How many artworks are in the Louvre Museum?

The Louvre Museum contains over 380,000 objects and displays roughly 35,000 works of art.

The collection is divided among eight departments:

  • Egyptian Antiquities
  • Near Eastern Antiquities
  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
  • Islamic Art
  • Sculpture
  • Decorative Arts
  • Paintings
  • Prints and Drawings

Let’s start with famous pieces of art at the Louvre Museum;

1. Mona Lisa (La Gioconda)

History of the Mona Lisa
Image: Smarthistory.org

Leonardo da Vinci | 1503-05 | Denon Wing | Room 711 |

The Mona Lisa, the world’s most renowned painting, holds a special place in art history not only for its fame but also for the mysteries surrounding its value.

Francesco del Giocondo’s wife, La Gioconda, is believed to be the subject of the portrait, which has attracted attention well beyond the usual scope of portraits.

Its rise to global fame was sparked by a bold theft in the early 20th century by an Italian janitor who aimed to bring it back to Florence.

Interestingly, the painting wasn’t looted by Napoleon during his invasions; it was actually acquired by King Francis I of France in 1518.

The global outcry sparked by the theft and the media frenzy upon its return to the Louvre cemented the Mona Lisa’s status as an icon.

This transformed it from a celebrated Renaissance portrait into a permanent fascination and charm symbol. 

At 30 by 21 inches, the appeal of this oil painting is as much due to its compelling history as it is to da Vinci’s unmatched talent.

2. Liberty Leading The People

Liberty Leading The People
Image: Britannica.com

Eugene Delacroix | 1831 | Denon Wing | Room 700 |

Eugène Delacroix’s famous painting, often confused with the 1789 French Revolution, actually marks the 1830 revolution that removed King Charles X from power.

A woman in a yellow gown, representing France or Marianne, leads people past fallen bodies, holding a musket and a tricolor flag to represent the nation’s unity.

Delacroix, a major French Romantic artist, created this artwork to embody the essence of the 1830 uprising.

Liberty, with a Phrygian cap, represents the revolutionary fervor, inspired by ancient Greek freedom symbols.

The diverse group following her, including an upper-class man, workers, and students, showcases the collective struggle for freedom.

This celebrated painting honors the enduring revolutionary ideals symbolized by the Tricolore flag in the Louvre’s art collection and is undergoing minor restoration.

3. The Raft of the Medusa

The Raft of the Medusa
Image: Wikimedia.org

Géricault Théodore | 1818-19 | Denon Wing | Room 700 |

Théodore Géricault’s “The Raft of the Medusa,” created in 1816, captures the tragic shipwreck of the French frigate Medusa in Mauritania.

The large painting, measuring over 16 by 23 feet, depicts the survivors on a makeshift raft, struggling for life after 13 days at sea, a number of them having died.

Known for its dramatic contrasts and realism, Géricault’s masterpiece is a key piece of French Romanticism, breaking away from Neoclassical ideals to explore deep emotions and human suffering.

Its raw portrayal of despair and departure from traditional styles make it a landmark in art history.

Celebrated for nearly two centuries, this powerful painting is a highlight of the Louvre’s collection.

4. Coronation of Napoleon

Coronation of Napoleon
Image: Britannica.com

Jacques-Louis David | 1806-07 | Denon Wing | Room 75 | 

“The Coronation of Napoleon I” is one of the Louvre’s biggest paintings, measuring 10 meters by 6 meters.

It shows Napoleon as a strong, rightful leader during his 1804 coronation, a key moment in European history.

The painting is full of symbols of his goals, power, and French roots.

Unique for its time, it shows Napoleon crowning himself, highlighting his independence.

Created by Jacques-Louis David, a leading Neoclassical artist, the painting uses idealized images and sharp lines for a heroic effect.

Although praised for its artistry, it has been criticized for historical inaccuracies and for seeming like propaganda.

Found in the Denon Wing, the painting is regularly restored to keep its bright colors and details, drawing visitors interested in its art and history.

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5. The Winged Victory of Samothrace (Nike of Samothrace)

Winged Victory of Samothrace
Image: WSJ.com

Charles Champoiseau | Discovered in 1863 | Denon Wing | Room 703 (Daru staircase) | 

The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also known as the “Nike of Samothrace,” is a famous marble statue located at the top of the Daru staircase in the Louvre Museum. 

Found in 1863 on the Greek island of Samothrace, it was made in the 2nd century BC as a tribute to the gods and to accompany a sanctuary’s construction.

Even without its head and arms, the statue’s lively pose and flowing drapery beautifully capture the essence of victory and movement.

One of the most famous sculptures in the world, its powerful presence and elegant shape make it a symbol of Greek Hellenistic art.

6. The Venus de Milo

 Venus de Milo
Image: Thetimes.co.uk

Marquis de Rivière | Discovered in 1820 | Sully Wing |  Room 344 | 

The famous Venus de Milo, or Aphrodite of Milos, is displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Found on the Greek island of Melos in 1820 by the Marquis de Rivière and given to King Louis XVIII, who donated it to the Louvre in 1821.

This over 6.5-foot statue, made of Parian marble and thought to be from around 100 BCE, represents the Greek goddess Aphrodite, or Venus to the Romans.

Its armless beauty and mysterious background have intrigued people for centuries and inspired many artists, including the Surrealists of the 20th century.

Venus de Milo now stands in the Louvre’s Galerie des Antiques, captivating visitors.

7. The Dying Slave

Dying Slave
Image: Wikimedia.org

Michelangelo Buonarroti | 1513 | Denon Wing | Room 403 | 

Michelangelo’s marble sculpture “The Dying Slave,” made between 1513 and 1516 and standing 2.15 meters tall, shows a young, nude man at the moment of death.

Through its expressive face and precise anatomy, Michelangelo’s sculpture powerfully conveys human agony with a right hand on his chest and a left hand on his head.

Originally for Pope Julius II’s tomb, it was never placed there. Instead, Michelangelo gave it to a friend in Florence, who then gave it to the French King.

Now, the original is in the Louvre Museum, Paris, and a copy is in the Museo Omero. 

“The Dying Slave” is a profound representation of human struggle and mortality by Michelangelo.

8. Death Of The Virgin (Morta della Vergine)

Death Of The Virgin
Image: Wikipedia.org

Caravaggio | 1601–06 | Denon Wing | Room 712 | 

Caravaggio’s “The Death of the Virgin,” created around 1606, is a significant work from the Counter-Reformation period.

It was made in 1601 to show the religious issues of the time and to support Catholic beliefs through art.

The painting is large, at 369 x 245 cm, and depicts the moment of the Virgin Mary’s death with apostles and a mourner around her.

Caravaggio broke from traditional religious art by aiming for a more realistic portrayal and using shadow and light to add drama.

Initially an altarpiece in Rome’s Santa Maria della Scala church, it’s now a highlight of the Louvre Museum’s art collection.

The painting explores the deep connection between art and religion during the Counter-Reformation, showing the controversies and practices of religious art then.

9. David With The Head Of Goliath

David With The Head Of Goliath
Image : Stock photos by Vecteezy

Guido Reni | 1605 | Richelieu Wing |  Room 20 |

“David with the Head of Goliath,” by Guido Reni, is a 1605 oil painting showing a young David with Goliath’s head, looking thoughtful.

This piece, especially famous in the Louvre, is one of several versions Reni made. 

People interpret David’s pose differently, seeing it either as reflecting on life’s briefness or as a sign of faith.

Unique lighting and secret details, like a “GR” inscribed sword hilt, make the painting intriguing.

David’s outfit, which looks quite modern, adds to its enigmatic quality.

The painting, restored in 2012, now shows vibrant colors and details that were once hidden.

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10. The Wedding Feast At Cana

Wedding Feast At Cana
Image: Wikipedia.org

Paolo Veronese | 1562-1563 | Denon Wing | Room 711 |

Paolo Veronese’s “The Wedding Feast at Cana,” created in the 1560s, shows Jesus performing the miracle of turning water into wine.

As one of the Louvre Museum’s largest paintings, it stands out with its bright colors and lively scenes from the Venetian Renaissance.

The painting is filled with over 130 detailed figures, including guests, servants, musicians, and Jesus.

Looking closely, you’ll find hidden meanings, like animals symbolizing virtues.

Though it was once criticized for its bold themes, it’s now admired for its artistic freedom.

Today, it’s a key attraction in the Louvre’s Italian Paintings, best seen from an angle for the full effect.

11. The Horse Tamers (The Marly Horses)

The Horse Tamers Louvre
Image: Wikipedia.org

Guillaume Coustou the Elder | 1677-1746 | Richelieu Wing | Room 102 |

The Marly Horses, or Horse Tamers, are notable sculptures displayed at the Louvre Museum.

These sculptures, an excellent example of Guillaume Coustou’s Carrara marble work, were commissioned by Louis XV in 1739 for Château de Marly to replace older statues.

These sculptures, embodying themes of fear, rage, and the “noble savage,” were finished in just two years and have left a mark on French sculpture and equestrian art.

Originally at Marly, they moved to Paris’s Place de la Concorde and then to the Louvre, with their 1840 restored originals now in the museum and replicas at Marly.

12. The Lacemaker

 The Lacemaker
Image: Wikipedia.org

Johannes Vermeer | 1669 – 70  | Richelieu Wing | Room 837 |

“The Lacemaker,” a tiny oil painting by Johannes Vermeer from 1669, brilliantly uses light and shadow.

Measuring just 9.6 by 8.3 inches, it’s one of Vermeer’s smallest works.

The detailed scene focuses on the lace-making and the woman’s concentrated look. 

Her identity and what she’s doing remain intriguing mysteries, making the painting even more fascinating.

For centuries, “The Lacemaker” has interested viewers, prompting them to think about the everyday lives and thoughts of people back then.

It also showcases the intense focus and skill required for lace-making, a common job for women in the 17th-century Netherlands.

13. The Turkish Bath

Turkish Bath
Image: Wikipedia.org (Ingres Marville Bain Turc 1859 )

Auguste Ingres | 1862 | Richelieu Wing | Room 77 |

An 1862 painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres depicts nude women in a harem pool, reflecting the period’s fascination with Orientalism.

This Louvre painting centers on a nude woman surrounded by others, including a lute player. 

Ingres skillfully emphasizes sensuality, combining different studies into a cohesive display of lines and shapes.

This Louvre masterpiece highlights his approach to form and pattern, making it one of his most famous works.

It showcases his interest in depicting female nudity, classical beauty, Oriental themes, and the harem setting.

14. Dante And Virgil In Hell

Dante And Virgil In Hell
Image: Wikipedia.org

Eugene Delacroix | 1822 |

Eugène Delacroix’s famous painting “Dante and Virgil in Hell,” also called “The Barque of Dante,” was made in 1822 and is displayed in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

It’s a large piece, 189 cm by 246 cm, based on a scene from Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” from “The Divine Comedy.”

Delacroix saw this as his best work, especially in depicting a face.

The painting shows Dante, wearing a red cap, and Virgil, the ancient Roman poet, on their legendary trip through hell.

It represents a shift from Neo-Classicism to Romanticism, capturing the characters’ emotions with strong contrasts.

Critics praised the painting, which the French State bought for 2000 Francs in 1874 to display in the Louvre.

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15. St. Michael Overwhelming The Demon

St. Michael Overwhelming The Demon
Image: Facebook.com/museedulouvre

Sazio Raphael | 1518 | Denon Wing | Room 710 |

Raphael Sanzio, a famous artist of the Renaissance, created “St. Michael Overwhelming the Demon” in 1518.

Measuring 268 cm by 160 cm, it’s displayed in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Despite his short life, Raphael made a significant impact on Renaissance art.

The painting shows St. Michael, an archangel and protector, defeating Satan and casting him into hell, as God commanded.

This work vividly captures a powerful Bible story, demonstrating Raphael’s skill in depicting intense scenes.

“St. Michael Overwhelming the Demon” showcases Raphael’s talent for dramatic compositions and his commitment to religious art and biblical narratives.

16. The Virgin Of The Rocks

Virgin Of The Rocks
Image: Wikipedia.org

Leonardo da Vinci | 1483-1494 | Denon Wing | Room 5 |

Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Virgin of the Rocks” is a mysterious and significant painting with two versions: the earlier one in the Louvre, dating from 1483 to 1494, and a later version in London’s National Gallery.

It depicts the Virgin Mary, infant Christ, John the Baptist, and an angel in a mystical landscape with rocks and rivers.

The painting showcases Leonardo’s scientific insights and his talent for creating large, detailed works.

The figures are presented in three dimensions with a divine appearance, thanks to Leonardo’s skilled use of chiaroscuro to blend light and shadow.

This art piece highlights Leonardo’s remarkable talent for depicting the Holy Family in an intriguing and beautiful way.

17. The Code of Hammurabi

Code of Hammurabi
Image: Wikipedia.org

Hammurabi | 1755-1750 BC | Sully Wing | Room 227 |

The Code of Hammurabi is the most complete set of Babylonian laws, made during the reign of Hammurabi, the king of Babylon’s first dynasty.

Engraved on a 7.4-foot basalt pillar found in 1901 in Susa (now Iran), it’s a well-preserved legal document from the ancient Near East.

Hammurabi, the dynasty’s sixth king, wrote it in Old Babylonian Akkadian.

The stele features Hammurabi with Shamash, the god of justice, at the top.

Below, around 4,130 lines of cuneiform text list various laws, including the “eye-for-an-eye” rule.

This code helps us learn about early laws and influenced many later ones.

The original stele is in the Louvre Museum in Paris, with replicas at the United Nations and Berlin’s Pergamon Museum.

18. The Virgin, Saint Anne, And The Child Playing With A Lamb

Virgin, Saint Anne, And The Child Playing With A Lamb
Image: Wikipedia.org

Leonardo da Vinci | 1510 | Denon Wing | Room 710-716 |

In 1510, Leonardo da Vinci created “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne,” a painting that shows St. Anne, her daughter Mary, and baby Jesus.

Praised for its lively design and realistic look, it took over ten years to finish in Florence, Italy.

A study called “The Burlington House Cartoon,” with Jesus and a lamb was part of its preparation.

Despite having rocky backgrounds, St. Anne and Mary’s bond stands out in this painting, which is similar to Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and “The Virgin of the Rocks.”.

Now, in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, it showcases Da Vinci’s lasting impact on art history.

19. The Rape Of The Sabine Women

Rape Of The Sabine Women
Image: Arthistoryproject.com

Nicolas Poussin | 1637-38 | Richelieu Wing | Room 828 |

Nicolas Poussin, a French Baroque artist, painted “The Rape of the Sabine Women” between 1637 and 1638, showing the story of Romans taking Sabine women as wives. 

Poussin’s love for Rome is evident in this famous artwork. It has been praised for its vibrant setup and realistic look.

Made with oil on canvas, it is 60 7/8 by 82 5/8 inches in size.

The painting draws you in with a triangular formation of figures, leading your eyes through the scene.

The expressions on the figures are engaging and pleasant, similar to the Mona Lisa’s smile.

20. The Seated Scribe

Seated Scribe
Image: Arthistoryproject.com

Egyptian Antiquities | 2620-2325 BC | Sully Wing | Room 635 |

The Seated Scribe is a famous ancient Egyptian sculpture in the Louvre Museum, Paris, dating back to the Old Kingdom, possibly the 5th or 4th Dynasty. 

Found by Auguste Mariette in 1860 near Saqqara, it represents the tradition of honoring servants in art for the afterlife.

It stands out for its original colors, white skirt, and lap-held papyrus, with a realistic gaze made with rock crystal, magnesite, and copper-arsenic inlays.

This sculpture is a key example of ancient Egyptian writing in history books.

Recently returned from the Louvre-Lens, The Seated Scribe now draws visitors in Paris with its deep historical roots.

Frequently Asked Questions About Artworks

What are the different sections of the Louvre?

What famous painting is housed at the Louvre?

Can I see the Mona Lisa up close at the Louvre Museum?

Can I see all the artworks in the Louvre in one day?

Where can I see Egyptian mummies in the Louvre?

Can I take photos of the artworks in the Louvre?

Are there any famous French paintings in the Louvre Museum?

How can I find specific artworks in the Louvre Museum?

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