Monday, 27 August 2012

Day 19 - Musee du Louvre

One of these is the most beautiful
woman in the history of art.
Sometimes its just best to be a bystander.

Today, Sue went to the Louvre. I walked her there and on the way we picked up our combined Paris Pass, Museum Pass and Transport Pass. We managed to test the transport ticket on a bus to the Louvre and on the Metro on the way home.

To arrive at the Louvre was enough to fulfil most of Sue's most vivid dreams. Originally a palace for the Kings of France, it was one of the buildings taken over by the people when heads rolled after le Revolution but Napoleon III still had rooms when he was rebuilding Paris. Sue arrived through the northern section of the building, walking beneath a giant arch, blinded by the sun reflected into the passage. As she came into the direct sunlight, a giant glass pyramid was beaming reflected light into the shadows on the northern side of a massive square, surrounded on three sides by magnificent buildings which had been built as a 12th century fortress. In 1682, Louis XIV left it and Paris, preferring to live at Versailles with she of the pastry quips, before eventually getting a close look at the workings of Dr Guillotine's most famous invention.

It is said to be the repository of more than one hundred thousand exhibits and to view each for 30 seconds would take you 136 years ... so Sue had to be picky. Sue opted for a Masterpieces Tour, a 90 minutes guided tour of the best of the best and one which was organised as a tour through time. Starting with Mesopotamia (known as Iraq today) and some giant stone statues, through the religious art of the Renaissance and to the originators of oil paints ... well Sue found her head in a spin.

She learned that painting used to be done with egg and pigments and had to be done quickly because the egg went off rapidly and the invention of oil paints gave artists more time to make changes, so portraiture became more popular. She also learned that much of the art produced was for powerful people such as royalty, emperors and  the church and little or none was done for the people.

Coronation of Napoleon
One fascinating canvas was the giant "Coronation of Napoleon", by the little bipolar's personal painter, Jacques-Louis David. It's an interesting canvas that avoided the fact Napoleon crowned himself and shows the Emperor in the process of crowning Josephine. The Pope and others look on, as do two of Napoleon's brothers (he had four but two weren't invited). Also looking on is his mother, despite the fact she didn't attend because she had the pig. The artist even painted himself and his wife into the painting!

The crowning glory of Sue's visit should have been da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" but it was really just about being in the same room as the girl with the ironic smile. Even though Sue had front row seats, we were no closer than ten metres and it was behind security glass so it was just a matter of saying you've seen it. Aphrodite with no arms and only slightly more clothes, otherwise known as the Venus de Milo, certainly did affect Sue. Knowing that an ancient Greek had cut this from marble was certainly special.

Its not the pheasant plucker
Believe it or not, the crowning glory for the dairy farmer's daughter was still waiting for her in the Greek ceramics section. For nearly three quarters of an hour, she gasped and gaped and ran to me with news of the six rooms of ceramic exhibits. I enjoyed it immensely, as each room had a floor air conditioning vent which I stood over.

Sue eventually retired from du Louvre after six hours of frenzy and exultation and walked up to the Metro station and took me home because I had been a good boy.

The Metro is impressive. Easy to use, fast and efficient, there is no comparison with metropolitan rail systems in Australia. On the trains themselves, a lighting indicator shows you the line you are on and the progress along the track. Each train is smaller than Australian trains because more of them run.

Sue had a splendid day and tomorrow, she'll have another.

Eiffel Tower and the elevator to the top!

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