How the Collection was Formed

TheVenus de Mil, in a box,
at the moment of the restoration in 1871

The origin of the collections in this department dates back to those of François Ier and Henri IV, to which were added those of Richelieu and Mazarin in the XVIIth Century. Special collections, the property of émigrés which were seized under the Revolution, make up a museum of antiques which was planned in 1795 and opened in 1800 when the works requisitioned by Bonaparte during his campaigns in Italy arrived at the Louvre.

When Napoleon fell, most of the antiques which came in during the period of the Revolution and the Empire found their way back to Italy, with the exception of those which were then bought from their owners. Various donations (the Venus de Milo in 1821) and purchases of collections (Tochon in 1820, Chevalier Durand in 1825 and 1836) were supplemented during the reign of Charles X by the results of digs and scientific explorations. Worthy of particular mention are the arrival at the Louvre of the collection of the Marquis de Campana in 1862 and the dispatch by Champoiseau in 1863 of the Winged Victory of Samothrace which, twenty years later, was positioned where it still stands today, at the top of the Daru staircase. The terracotta vases and statuettes make up an exceptional ensemble which ranks amongst the finest in the world.

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