Suitcase and World: The Louvre.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Louvre.

Capturing a photo of one of the Louvre's most famous residents.

   rom Rue Cler, we headed over to the Louvre, one of the greatest art museums in the world!  If you come to Paris and you don't go to the Louvre, you've missed out!

Z led us to the entrance via the Carrousel de Louvre, an underground shopping mall filled with some very nice looking shops.   We arrived under the glass pyramid.  Thanks to our City Pass, we didn't have to wait in line to get entry tickets but we did stop at the Information Center to get a map.

The Louvre is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection.  In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture and they remained there for 100 years.  It wasn't until the French Revolution that the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings.

The Louvre is divided into three wings: Richelieu, Sully and Denon.  It also include the Hall Napolean.  If you've ever been here, you know it's massive and it is not humanly possible to see the entire collection in a day.  I don't know that it's even possible to see the entire collection in a week!  Even though it's a large space, the museum is so popular, that it's perennially crowded with tourists.

Our museum pass let us in - there was no line waiting to enter the galleries.  The attendant stamped the back of the pass with today's date.

Of course, Z has never been here before and like so many Louvre *virgins*, his plan was to see the whole place and when I told him that was impossible to do in the time we were here, he looked at me in disbelief.  I told him to trust me and then suggested that we focus on seeing the highlights.  I rattled off two to start with - the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory.

Z went right into navigation mode.  From the entrance, we passed through the galleries of Greek art, pausing just for a few minutes to look at a few of the marble statues and bas relief works.


The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace, is a 2nd century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike.

I told Z that the Winged Victory stands at the top of a grand staircase.  To be more precise, she stands atop the staircase that connects the Sully and Denon wings. It's been almost 20 years since I was last here but some things you don't forget.

The Winged Victory, which consists of a statue of a winged female figure, the goddess Nike.  The base is in the shape of the prow of a ship. The whole sculpture measurs 5.57 meters (18 feet  in height.  The sculpture is considered a unique masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture.  I told Z that when the sculpture was originally carved, it had a head and arms but those sculpture parts are easily damaged so more often than not, ancient Greek statues are missing a head and arms.  What I admire about this statue is the ability of the sculptor to render the movement of the delicate fabric in marble.  You can also see how the Greeks appreciate what I would say is a very sexy woman's body.

Gotta pose for your aunt :-)

One of my favorite parts about walking through the Louvre is seeing the ornately decorated rooms - a reminder of its years as a royal palace.  Thankfully, the academies that occupied it for 100 years did not deface or remove any of the interior decoration.

The Mona Lisa was waiting for us in a gallery in the  Denon Wing.  I'm sure that the paintings in the hallway were worth viewing but we were on the mission to see THE lady of the house.

As I had expected, there was a throng of people surrounding the wall on which the painting by Leonardo da Vinci hangs.   She is priceless so there are plenty of museum attendants making sure that no one crosses the rope barrier.

The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci from 1503-1517.  I don't know what took him so long.  I think what surprised me the most when I first saw the painting was just how small it is - it only measures 2 foot 6 inches tall x 1 foot  9 inches wide. 

After the Mona Lisa, I led Z decide where to take us to next.  I continued to ooh and ahh over the magnificence of the building itself which is a masterpiece of art unto itself.  I can only imagine how long it must have taken artists to complete the works in some of these rooms!

Egyptian Antiquities, housed in Sully Wing, was the next stop on our walk.  The Louvre has the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities outside of the Cairo Museum.  I have been to the Cairo Museum and I have to say that the items in the Louvre are much better displayed.  It's what you can do when the museum has the funds!

The Collection of Objets d'Art de Louis XIV & Louis XVI is displayed in Sully Wing.  I think the curators just left the objects in the rooms as they might have originally been placed.  You feel like you are walking through rooms in the former palace.

The collection consists of everything from wood paneling and painted decorative elements to tapestries, fine furniture, decorative bronzework, marble items, gold- and silverware, jewelry, scientific instruments, European faience and porcelain.  I was surprised when Z made a turn into a dimly lit gallery where tiny jeweled boxes, snuff containers, watches, urns, pitchers, plates, bowls, goblets, etc, were on display.  Apparently, he wanted to see bejeweled things.  I have to admit, they were really beautiful pieces and if there is anything that would represent royal wealth, something like these luxurious objects would!

We continued to walk through galleries.  They soon became one big blur.

Carved ivory piece back when elephants were plentiful and people didn't give it thought to not kill the animal just for its tusks.

We exited one of the galleries to emerge into a sculpture garden of which there are apparently several in the Louvre.  I think this is the one in the Denon Wing.  It's a lovely space with natural sunlight filtering down from the massive skylight above.

 "Hercules fighting Acheloos transformed into a snake" by François Joseph Bosio (1824). 
Bosio also that created the quadriga that tops the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Paris.

The Near Eastern Antiquities collection, in the Richelieu Wing, stood somewhere between the sculpture garden and where Z was trying to lead us.  Apparently, he was lost and instead of asking any one of the attendants for directions, he insisted on continuing to walk.  For a few minutes, I lost sight of him so I decided it best that I just stay put and admire the lamassu.  Lamassu are an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human's head, a body of an ox or a lion, and bird's wings. They were typically placed as guardians at certain gates or doorways of the city and the palace

This is one of my favorite images. You can never be too young to start learning how to appreciate art.  I admire this mother's efforts.

Salle des Caryatides.

Venus de Milo stands tall in the  Sully Wing.  After getting lost and then finding the way, Z led us to her.  The crowd around her was not as big as that hovering in front of the Mona Lisa but nonetheless, she is one of the grand dames of the Louvre's collection.  She was discovered on the Greek island of Melos (also known as Milos) in 1820 and added to the collection sometime before 1824.  Ancient Greeks knew how to admire a well toned (see her abs?) and curvy female body.  She is one sexy woman!

Gallery housing the museum's Italian sculpture collection.

The Slaves are a pair of marble statues that stand in the Michelango Gallery in the Denon Wing.  Michelangelo carved the statues as his first version for the tomb of Pope Julius II starting.  However, upon the Pope's death, the project was abandoned due to financial reasons and so the statues were left unfinished, emerging from the rough-hewn stone.  Despite being unfinished, the two great marbles were already admired. Michelangelo donated them to the Florentine exile Roberto Strozzi, who presented them to the French king.

The two chained slaves express entirely different emotions. The one known as the Dying Slave is very young and handsome, and apparently in a deep (perhaps eternal) sleep. The other, called the Rebellious Slave, is a coarser figure whose whole body seems engaged in a violent struggle.

The Rebellious Slave is a 2.15 meter (7 feet) high marble statue by Michelangelo, dated to 1513.

The Dying Slave ca. 1513-1516 stands 2.15 meters (7 feet) in height, and is held at the Louvre, Paris.

After seeing the two sculptures by Michelangelo, we were both ready to leave.  Truthfully, I can only last  a couple hours or so.....even in a museum that is as magnificent as the Louvre.  I reach sensory overload and after that, nothing registers in my brain.

We made our way back to the entrance and from there to the Carrousel de Louvre.

We emerged near the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.  Turning around, we headed towards a park that is very familiar to me.

Tuileries Garden  was created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace (which no longer exist) in 1564, it was eventually opened to the public in 1667, and became a public park after the French Revolution.

Just a few souvenir vendors.  I'm so surprised there are not more.

Lovely spot to take a breather.  He's looking a bit dazed.  Too much art??

Pavillon de Flore, a wing of the Louvre Palace and now a wing of the museum.

For centuries, Parisians have flocked to the Tuileries Garden to do whatever they are allowed to do in this greenspace.  The last time I was here, it was the height of summer.  I don't think there was a free chair to be had and barely any space left to sit on the grass!

Z and I found ourselves a couple of lounge chairs and relaxed.  By now, it was almost 7:30p and I was ready to call it a day.  Z still had energy in him and wanted to go to another museum.  A quick check on Google showed that the Centre Georges Pompidou, a modern art museum was open til 10p.  We decided to split up and meet back up in the apartment.

I took the Metro back to our neighborhood and stopped in the supermarket to pick up some items for dinner.  We had some rotisserie chicken left over from yesterday afternoon and I supplemented it with rice and some other ingredients.  I figured I could whip up a fried rice dish for Z.  I had no idea what time he planned to be back in the apartment but I knew he would be hungry.  Lucky he has an aunt that can whip up a tasty dish from leftovers!

I got into our apartment building okay but for the life of me, I could not unlock the damn lock on the door to our apartment. I tried, and tried and tried.  How hard can it be to unlock a door?  You can only turn the key in one of two directions!  It took me so many tries that the motion sensor detected light in the hallway went out - the detector is a couple floors down.  It was too dark to go back down.  Thankfully, I have a light on my cellphone.  Unfortunately, that left me one handed to turn the lock and door knob.  I was so frustrated but thankfully, (and I have no idea how I did it),  I finally unlocked the door.

I was in the kitchen when around 9:40p, I heard my cellphone sound out an alert.  It wasn't a ringtone that I recognized.  It turned out to be from WhatsApp.  Z was waiting outside the apartment.  Before we left Tuileries, he had told me that he had the key code to get in the front door but apparently,  it didn't work.  So, the poor kid had to wander about for a bit, trying to find a free WiFi hotspot.  Eventually, he went inside the Indian restaurant, across the street, and told him he was locked out of his apartment building and needed to use WiFi to reach the person (i.e., me) who would let him in.  Apparently, the man he spoke to would not tell him the WiFi password but did enter it in on Z's iPhone.  So, Z first messaged me in Facebook and when I didn't respond, used WhatsApp.  Ironically, he and I had just installed the app on our phones a day or so before we left the US.  Anyway, it all worked out but he said that from that point forth, we would never be separated.

After Z polished off the rice, we treated ourselves to the cake that we had bought in Dalloyau two days ago.  Delicious!!  We had to end the night on good note!

Good night from Paris!