Relevance to the Da Vinci Code:
In the Louvre, a monk of Opus Dei named
Silas apprehends Jacques Saunière, the museum’s curator, and demands to
know where the Holy Grail is. After Saunière tells him, Silas shoots him
and leaves him to die. However, Saunière has lied to Silas about the
Grail’s location. Realizing that he has only a few minutes to live and
that he must pass on his important secret, Saunière paints a pentacle on
his stomach with his own blood, draws a circle with his blood, and drags
himself into the center of the circle, re-creating the position of
Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. He also leaves a code, a line of
numbers, and two lines of text on the ground in invisible ink.
A police detective, Jerome Collet, calls Robert Langdon, the story’s
protagonist and a professor of symbology, and asks him to come to the
Louvre to try to interpret the scene. Langdon does not yet realize that
he himself is suspected of the murder.
Sophie Neveu, an agent of the department of cryptology and Saunière’s
granddaughter, arrives at the crime scene and tells Langdon that he must
call the embassy. When Langdon calls the number Sophie gave him, he
reaches her answering service. The message warns Langdon that he is in
danger and should meet Sophie in the bathroom at the
In the bathroom, Sophie shows Langdon that Fache is noting his movements
with a tracking device. She throws the device out the window onto a
passing truck, tricking the police into thinking that Langdon has
escaped from the
Sophie also tells Langdon that the last line in the secret message, “P.S.
Find Robert Langdon,” was her grandfather’s way of alerting her: P.S.
are the initials of her grandfather’s nickname for her, Princesse
Sophie. Langdon thinks that P.S. might stand for Priory of Sion, an
ancient brotherhood devoted to the preservation of the pagan goddess
worship tradition, and to the maintenance of the secret that Saunière
Langdon decodes the second and third lines in Saunière’s message:
“Leonardo Da Vinci! The Mona Lisa!” Sophie returns to the paintings to
look for another clue. The police have returned to the Louvre as well,
and they arrest Langdon. Sophie finds a key behind the Madonna of the
Rocks. By using the painting as a hostage, she manages to disarm the
police officer and get herself and Langdon out of the building.
Denon Wing, the Louvre. The Italian painting
collection begins at the western end of the Denon Wing. Some rooms here
are slowly being remodeled; the Mona Lisa is usually in Salle 3, but
through 2005 she is in Salle 13. Seek out the paintings by the original
Renaissance man, painter-engineer-inventor-anatomist Leonardo da Vinci
(1452-1519). His enigmatic, androgynous St-John the Baptist hangs in
Salle 5, along with more overtly religious works, such as the 1483
Virgin of the Rocks, with the harmonious pyramidal arrangement of its
Continue down the corridor, past masterworks by Raphael and Giuseppe
Arcimboldo; you'll soon find yourself in the midst of a crowd,
approaching the Mona Lisa (properly, La Gioconda, known as La Joconde in
French). With all the guards and barriers, it feels as if you're
visiting a holy relic, and in some ways you are. This small painting was
Leonardo's favorite. It has belonged to innumerable French rulers since
its acquisition by François I, including Napoléon, who kept it on his
bedroom wall. The wife of one Francesco del Giocondo, a Florentine
millionaire, was 24 when she sat for this painting in 1503. (Some
historians believe the portrait was actually painted after her death,
and Langdon has an altogether different theory about the origins of the
image.) Either way, she has become immortal through Leonardo's ingenious
sfumato technique, which combines glowing detail with soft, depth-filled
I.M. Pei's Louvre Pyramid: one of
the entrances to the galleries lies below the glass pyramid.
The Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre), in Paris, France, is one of the
largest and most famous museums in the world. The building, a former
royal palace, lies in the centre of Paris, between the Seine river and
the Rue de Rivoli. Its central courtyard, now occupied by the Louvre
Pyramid, lies in the axis of the Champs-Élysées, and thus forms the
nucleus from which the Axe historique springs. Part of the royal Palace
of the Louvre was first opened to the public as a museum on November 8,
1793, during the French Revolution.
Model of the first royal "Castle of the Louvre".
Map of the Louvre.
The first royal "Castle of the Louvre" on this site was founded by Philip
Augustus in 1190, as a fortress to defend Paris on its west against
Viking attacks. In the 14th century, Charles V turned it into a palace
of the arts, but Francois I and Henri II tore it down to build a real
palace; the foundations of the original fortress tower are now under the
Salle des Cariatides (Room of the Caryatids).
The existing part of the Château du Louvre was begun in 1546. The
architect Pierre Lescot introduced to Paris the new design vocabulary of
the Renaissance, which had been developed in the châteaux of the Loire.
His new wing for the old castle defined its status, as the first among
the royal palaces. J. A. du Cerceau also worked on the Louvre.
During his reign (1589-1610), King Henri IV added the Grande Galerie. More
than a quarter of a mile long and one hundred feet wide, this huge
addition was built along the bank of the River Seine and at the time was
the longest edifice of its kind in the world. Henri IV, a promoter of
the arts, invited hundreds of artists and craftsmen to live and work on
the building's lower floors. This tradition continued for another two
hundred years until Napoleon III ended it.
Louis XIII (1610-1643) completed the Denon Wing, which had been started by
Catherine Medici in 1560. Today it has been renovated, as a part of the
Grand Louvre Renovation Programme.
The Richelieu Wing was also built by Louis XIII. It was part of the
Ministry of Economy of France, which took up most of the north wing of
the palace. The Ministry was moved and the wing was renovated and turned
into magnificient galleries which were inaugurated in 1993, the 200th
anniversary of the Louvre Museum.
Commissioned by King Louis XIV, architect Claude Perrault's eastern wing
(1665-1680), crowned by an uncompromising Italian balustrade along its
distinctly non-French flat roof, was a ground-breaking departure in
French architecture. His severe design was chosen over a design provided
by the great Bernini, who came to Paris for the purpose. Perrault had
translated the Roman architect Vitruvius into French. Now Perrault's
rhythmical paired columns form a shadowed colonnade with a central
pedimented triumphal arch entrance raised on a high, rather defensive
basement, in a restrained classicizing baroque manner that has provided
models for grand edifices in Europe and America for centuries. The
Metropolitan Museum in New York, for one example, reflects Perrault's
Napoleon I built the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (Triumph Arch) in 1805
to commemorate his victories and the Jardin du Carrousel. In those times
this garden was the entrance to the Palais des Tuileries.
The Louvre was still being added to by Napoleon III. The new wing of
1852-1857, by architects Visconti and Hector Lefuel, represents the
Second Empire's version of Neo-baroque, full of detail and laden with
sculpture. Work continued until 1876.
In 1989, the Ieoh Ming Pei-designed glass pyramid was inaugurated. It was
the first renovation of the Grand Louvre Project. The Carre Gallery,
where the Mona Lisa is exhibited, has also been renovated.
The Louvre holds the rich artistic heritage of the French people from the
early Capetian Kings through the Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte and to the
Long managed by the French state under the Réunion des Musées Nationaux
the Louvre has recently acquired powers of self-management as an
"Etablissement Public Autonome" in order to better manage its growth.
Since September 14, 2005, the Louvre museum has gradually forbidden the
taking of photos of its artworks.
Among the thousands of priceless paintings is Leonardo da Vinci's Mona
Lisa, the most famous painting in the world; it is housed in the Salle
des Etats in a climate-controlled environment behind protective glass.
Works of artists like Fragonard, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Poussin, and
David can also be seen. Among the well-known sculptures in the
collection are the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo.
The collection of Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934), given to the
Louvre in 1935, fills an exhibition room. It contains more than 40,000
engravings, nearly 3,000 drawings and 500 illustrated books.
Besides art, the Louvre has many other types of exhibits, including
archeology, history, and architecture. It has a large furniture
collection, whose most spectacular item used to be the Bureau du Roi of
the 18th century, now returned to the Palace of Versailles.
The most recent significant modification of the Louvre was the "Grand
Louvre" project, under president François Mitterrand. This opened the
north wing of the building, which had hitherto housed government
offices, and covered over several small internal courtyards. Most
spectacular of all, it added a glass pyramid designed by the architect
I. M. Pei at the center of the palace. The much expanded and
re-organized Louvre reopened in 1989.
The Louvre is widely mentioned in novels and on television. Examples
include a setting for the book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, among
Since a large part of the works in the Louvre are in storage, it was
decided that an extension to the Louvre was to be created to the north
of Paris. The project should be completed by 2009; the building will be
capable of receiving between 500 and 600 major works. This new building
should receive about 500,000 visitors per year. There were six city
candidates for this project: Amiens, Arras, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Calais,
Lens, and Valenciennes. On November 29, 2004, French Prime Minister
Jean-Pierre Raffarin chose Lens to be the site of the new Louvre
building. Le Louvre-Lens was the name chosen for the museum.
The new building, under the administration of the Conseil régional du
Nord-Pas-de-Calais will have semi-permanent exhibition space covering at
least 5000m². There will also be space set aside for temporary national
and international exhibitions. The building will be a group of glass and
aluminum buildings in the middle of a large garden. The estimated cost
for this building is 117 million euro, or 158.7 million US Dollars (as
of January 2005). It was confirmed on September 26, 2005 with the
Japanese office of architecture that SANAA, under the auspices of Kazuyo
Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, will be designing the building.