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Visitor trails Christmas Show

Thematic trail - Length: 1 hr - Tour days: Monday Wednesday Friday Saturday Sunday

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L'Adoration des bergers (détail)
L'Adoration des bergers (détail)

© Musée du Louvre/A. Dequier - M. Bard

00Introduction

Perhaps you look forward to Christmas and its presents, but do you know the Christmas story?

Christmas
Christmas is a religious feast day. On 25 December, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, who came to earth to save mankind. The story is told in the New Testament, the second part of the Bible.
Like a show
The story has inspired many artists.
Like film-directors, they have arranged the characters, chosen the sets, and played about with lighting and colors.
Very carefully, they have selected the gestures and facial expressions, the costumes and props, that will create the right mood and express the characters' feelings.

 

How to get to the next stop:
From the pyramid, follow the signs to Richelieu. When your ticket has been checked, turn right. Walk up the steps and take the escalator to the second floor. Turn right and walk toward the French painting section. Go to Room 5.

L'Adoration de L'Enfant ; au revers, figure de saint évêque
L'Adoration de L'Enfant ; au revers, figure de saint évêque

© Musée du Louvre/A. Dequier - M. Bard

01The Adoration

Look at the painting. Now turn round and describe from memory how the people are placed.
The composition - the staging of the various parts of the painting - is simple and symmetrical here. Mary and Joseph are kneeling to either side of Jesus and are looking at him.
The motionless figures are shown close-to - they are in the foreground. Can you make out the donkey and the ox in the gloom?

How to get to the next stop:

Keep walking to the left until you reach Room 9.

The Adoration of the Shepherds
The Adoration of the Shepherds

© Musée du Louvre/A. Dequier - M. Bard

02The Adoration of the Shepherds, Jean de Gourmont

The composition of this painting is very different from the last one. There are many figures, and they are all moving. They are in a theatrical setting, and this time they are a long way away. Look at the angels flying through the air. Look for the donkey and the ox, in the background. If you stepped into the painting to pat them, would you have to walk for a long time before reaching them? This illusion of depth in a painting is called perspective.

How to get to the next stop:

Turn right and keep walking until you reach Room 16. Then turn left, go up the steps to Room 19 and carry on until you come to Room 28.

The Adoration of the Shepherds
The Adoration of the Shepherds

© Musée du Louvre/A. Dequier - M. Bard

03The Adoration of the Shepherds, Georges de La Tour

Here the figures take up the entire picture.
The circular composition around Jesus invites you to take the place of a sixth figure. The candle, which Joseph is sheltering with his left hand, is like a spotlight trained on Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, leaving the other three figures and the lamb in semi-darkness.
Look at the picture with your eyes half shut. What is the dominant range of colors?
Do you see how it warms up the scene?

How to get to the next stop:
Go down the stairs to Room 31. Then take the staircase on the right to Room 32 and go up to Room 33.

L'Adoration des mages
L'Adoration des mages

© 1991 RMN / Gérard Blot

04The Adoration of the Magi

Jesus in no longer at the center of the picture here. The crowd of people who have come to adore him is spread out along a diagonal line from his feet. In the front row you will recognize the three kings in their sumptuous costumes. Find the star that has led them to the Christ Child.
Look carefully at their faces: all eyes are turned in the same direction, except for those of three people. Find them. Who do you think the man at the upper right is pointing at and why?

How to get to the next stop:
Walk up the stairs on the left and go into Room 34

L'adoration des bergers
L'adoration des bergers

© Musée du Louvre/A. Dequier - M. Bard

05The Adoration of the Shepherds, Charles Le Brun

Many figures are crowding around Mary and Jesus. The setting, the lighting, the way the people fill the picture space, their postures, their costumes - all these things remind us of a play.
Look at the different sources of light.
Where does the light shining on Jesus come from?
Look at the roof line - it divides the painting into two parts, separating the angels' world from that of the shepherds.

How to get to the next stop:
Go back to Room 31, walk though Rooms 30, 27, 26, 19 and 17, then go into Room 5 opposite. Keep going straight on to the escalators. Go down to the first floor. Opposite the Richelieu café, go into the first room, then turn right toward the display case in the middle of the wall on the left.

Icône reliquaire de la Nativité
Icône reliquaire de la Nativité

© R.M.N./D. Arnaudet

06Christmas Show

On this carved ivory icon, the strong lines of the hills divide the picture into three parts. Two events in the life of Jesus are shown: his birth and his baptism. Look at each character in turn. They are all honoring the Christ Child by some attitude or gesture.
The frame of the icon is a real 'treasure chest', containing relics, or fragments of a saint's body.

How to get to the next stop:
Go through the next rooms and stop on the left when you come out of Room 4..

Adoration des Mages
Adoration des Mages

© R.M.N./D. Arnaudet

07The Adoration of the Magi

This stained-glass window is made of pieces of colored glass held together by strips of lead. The light shining through it brings out the colors.
The vertical bars divide the window into three parts, but they make up a single scene.
Find Mary and Jesus. This time, nobody is looking at the Christ Child.
What are they looking at?
Find the star again.
Do you remember what it means?

How to get to the next stop:
This is the end of your tour. To leave, turn round and follow the pyramid signs.