The Louvre Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  978 Words
Date:  2022-09-05


The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world located in Paris, France. Originally, this museum was a royal palace to French Kings until during the French Revolution when the National Assembly of France ordered for the palace to be converted into a museum. Holdings have increased over the years through donations and requests over the centuries. It has been ranked the first location globally to receive the highest number of visitors every year. This museum is home to various prehistory objects documented in history collected from different cultures and centuries from all over the world. This paper regards two famous pieces that are hosted in this museum; The Raft of the Medusa and The Coronation of Napoleon and how they are connected to European history.

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The Raft of Medusa

This famous painting was the works of the iconic French painter known as Theodore Gericault as an account of the infamous shipwreck of the Meduse ship that was used in the Napoleonic wars in the Mauritian raids. Armed with weapons and French officials, The Meduse was sailing across to the shore of Mauritius when it struck the Mauritian reef and was completely shattered. Most of the survivors on board took refuge on a raft that was improvised but then towing proved impractical as the sea waves were very high. Soon the survivors found themselves in the open sea with no means to navigate to the shore. This led to most of the people being washed away into the sea while others were killed due to disagreements. The remaining people were running out of supplies which forced the remaining ones to result to cannibalism. By the time they were evacuated, only 15 men were remaining a surgeon and a police officer among them. This incident stirred a lot of controversies and raised many questions, but the French government officials tried to cover it up ( Corread and Henry 17).

During the Romantic Era towards the end of the eighteenth century, many artists rose to express themselves in their various artistic areas. This era emphasized visual arts that expressed intense emotions and individualism which glorified the past and the present. This saw the rise of Theodore who was very intrigued by this incident that had sparked a lot of public attention. At the showing of his final draft, the painting attracted praise and critics in equal measure.

The painting depicted the human and political aspects of the shipwreck event. Theodore imagined what the survivors would be feeling and expressed this into his work. The right side had a heavy background which shows sorrow and loss while the left side had a lighter background expressing hope for a can also see the desperation in the faces of the survivors and sadness for the loss of their loved ones (Alhadeff and Albert 4). This era saw a shakeup in the political scene where the people demanded justice, proper leadership and accountability. Theodore was an ambitious man who outdid himself by thinking outside the confines of the political and religious margins (Corread and Henry 48).

He referred to this historic event to bring to life a scene that provoked emotions. He succeeded in providing an avenue for his viewers to live outside their comfort zones and to find solace in the freedom of expression. As a result, many people began critiquing the French government on their unconventional behavior that alluded to slavery, gender subversion and also cannibalism. The society also began to challenge and break away from the ideologies and moral margins that had been dominant. This period saw the classical western rationalism and the whole standard of morality disrupted, and contemporary artists have saluted Theodore for his contribution.

The Coronation of Napoleon

This painting was commissioned by Napoleon who was the military leader and statesman in the eighteenth century which is when the artist Jacques- Louis David started the artwork. This was after a prestigious victory in the campaigns in Italy and Egypt led by Napoleon. Despite having been crowned emperor and securing his legitimacy in the French monarch, Napoleon went ahead to crown himself as emperor even after the pope consecrated him. He crowned himself facing the crowd that was present instead of the traditional way of facing the altar which represented his independence from the church. The initial sketches of the artist, showed the emperor crowning himself which presented a dictatorial figure but the final works depicted a priest in the act.

This work represented the rules and principles of Neoclassicism such as symmetry and simplicity ( Kleiner 27). Napoleon came into power a few years after independence after the French had abolished their society of brotherhood and unity by waging war on neighboring monarchies. His regime, however, brought about military power and power to the people.

Under Napoleon's instructions, David included the French symbols of power which he meant to glorify the new ruler and the French monarchy. His figures in the paintings were depicted in emphatic conditions which meant to inspire his viewers into taking action for a better society. He depicts Napoleon at the center and with all eyes on him which were meant to root the power of his rule in the monarch and also give less significance to the church (Kleiner 28).


Both David and Theodore asserted their place in history through their works that depicted the Neoclassical and Romanticism eras in History. Their unique and accurate artistic styles have helped to document these important moments in history through their attention to detail and ability to manipulate the different styles to provoke emotions that fit their different depictions.

Works Cited

Alhadeff H., Albert M. The Raft of Medusa: Gericault, Art, and Race. Berlin: Munich, Prestel. 2002.

Corread A., Henry J.B. Narratives of a Voyage to Senegal in 1816. London: Darwins Publishers. 1998.

Kleiner F.S. Gardners Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective, 14th Edition Vol 11. Boston. M.A.Wadsworth. 2004.

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