French embassy sheds light on Islamic Art


The first Islamic artworks entered the Louvre when the museum was founded in 1793, and the first Islamic galleries date from 1893

Abid Raza

LAHORE: In a bid to show France’s positive and soft image for Islam, the French embassy in Pakistan Thursday brings the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre Museum into the light.
Taking to Twitter consisting many pictures of the Islamic art displayed at the Louvre Museum, the embassy wrote at its official handle: “Since 2012 & a presidential decree, the Flag of France Louvre Museum has an independent Department of Islamic Art. The collection spans 3 continents. The treasures displayed are an invitation into the fascinating world of the Islamic creativity & excellence.”
The embassy also tagged Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood and Foreign Office Pakistan, a private television channel reported.
The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France, and is best known for being the home of the Mona Lisa.
Together with the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre Museum is home to the largest collection of Islamic works of art in the world. The recent developments completed in 2012 included the arrangement of spaces, where more than 3,000 pieces documenting Islamic art from Spain to India are on display.

The first Islamic artworks entered the Louvre when the museum was founded in 1793, and the first Islamic galleries date from 1893. Back then, the preferred term was ‘the Muslim arts’ – a reference not to religious art, but to the predominance of Islam in the Middle East and Africa. The collection expanded considerably in the 19th and 20th centuries, when Paris was at the forefront of Orientalism.
The Louvre’s Islamic artworks were initially presented in the Department of Decorative Arts before joining the Department of Eastern Antiquities, but after the creation by presidential decree of an independent Department of Islamic Art, they were moved to their present, purpose-designed structure in 2012.

The glass and metal structure was designed by architects Rudy Ricciotti and Mario Bellini and architect and exhibition designer Renaud Piérard. It stands in the Cour Visconti, formerly an open-air courtyard. Under the golden veil, the collection is spread over two levels with different lighting effects.
The upper level unfolds under this extraordinary roof of undulating metal resembling a floating veil, a sand dune, an Islamic latticework window…whatever your imagination suggests! Surrounded by glass walls, the artworks are bathed in natural light, but the metal structure protects them from the sun’s rays.

The treasures on the lower level, on the other hand, are displayed in dim, mysterious lighting that creates an atmosphere worthy of Aladdin’s cave! A thousand and one dazzling colors and the gleam of gold and silver transport us eastwards – to Córdoba, Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, Aleppo, Mosul, Istanbul, Isfahan or Agra in India.