Day Three: The Louvre
And now, finally the big one, the visit I wanted, no needed to see above all.
According to our guide, the museum is so large that in order to see ever painting for ten seconds (only the paintings on displays, not including the displays, artifacts, or sculptures by the way.) it would take you four straight days. I had three hours. I needed a plan.
A game plan, right! Bottom floor first, zoom to see Michelangelo's Captive Slave and to see Eros and Psyche. I had a map, I was well armed, and I knew what I was doing. I stepped inside and....okay, how do I get in again?
It was a bit confusing on how to even enter the museum. You see, there are multiple entrances. I went in the Richelieu one and became, promptly, lost. Ah crab apples. Yep. Once I finally figured out how to get inside the place, I began the quest of the century. Take in as much as possible while hitting the major highlights. I could do this!
And I became lost again, somewhere around the Grecian sculptures. Whoops. Did I mention my lack of a sense of direction entirely? Because it was not paying off here.
However, I am not a man, and I can ask for directions! Which I promptly did. I managed to see it all, starting with the important Ramses II sculpture in the Ancient Egyptian permanent collection.
If you don't know, Ancient Egypt holds a special place in my heart. By this I mean I went on an ancient Egypt bender in middle school and so know enough about it that I do love it so. So getting to see the artwork and the hieroglyphics from that time period was pretty much a dream come true. I was all kinds of in awe over pretty much everything in it. The ancient Egyptians apparently had this thing with the colors Red and blue. by blue I meant neon blue by the way.
I managed to stumble into the Hallo of Apollo which houses the French crown jewels. The are just oh so tacky. Well, three crowns, a sword, and several broaches are here and they are just not as tasteful as the british crown jewels currently are.
More beautiful and interesting are the portraits that line the hall. These aren't painting up there by the way. In this relatively dim all the portraits that line every the place are made of elaborate tapestries. From the ground you can just see the weave. It's all so absolutely beautiful. It's all men of course, all around the sameish time period and all very serious and solemn. Still.
From here I got very thoroughly lost again, until I managed to figure out where I was. I now had a new orientation. The Winged Victory of Samothrace, a headless armless statute of a woman with wings on the prow of a boat. He hand, by the way, it kept in a display case nearby. Much like my father's hand, only one finger remains on it. It's even the same finger, I think. Hard to tell with a complete lack of reference points on the very old hand.
I was looking for the Code of Hammurabi. This historic column contains the first know legal system including the penalties, and is absolutely famous. It didn't have nearly enough gawkers at it, and I nearly passed it up. That's how you find famous things in the Louvre by the way. You look for the crowd.
I did manage to find it though, and took several pictures. From there, I found my way back to the Winged Victory (a centalish location by the way) and went on to see the great, the magnificent, the not so very large and oh so very super crowded Mona Lisa. Using my mighty powers of shortness, I managed to get in deep the crowd, so I only had one layer of people between me and my quarry.
I, however, had a rotating view screen on my camcorder, and all I had to do was hold it up high and suddenly, I could see once more! Let there be sight! It's always amazing to see famous paintings up close. However, on my winding route to try and find Michelangelo's Captive Slave (which, despite being first, proved hardest to find) I found a painting on loan from London.
Because it was a temporary exhibit, we weren't able to take pictures, however I do believe I shall remember L'execution de Lady Jane Grey for a very long time. The lighting there highlighted the pure white of Lady Grey perfectly, her attendant faint nearby as, blindfolded, the Lady accepted her grim fate.
This is a beautiful painting, and I admit I stopped to admire it as I could. It left me near breathless. Ah, if only I had been allowed to take a picture of this beauty. Still, after pausing to swoon over the painting (I completely forgot to get the artist's name, so enamored was I of the painting itself) I had to regretfully move on. There is more to the Louvre than just one painting after all.
I did find the Venus de Milo, which, if you don't know, if the armless statue of a chick that finds its way into everything from cartoons to pop culture. There was also this giant statue of Ares with one arm lifts up, and the other palm side up, outstretched as if in offering. Considering this if the Greek god of war, I advise you not to take the hand.
Then I found myself suddenly in the Ancient Egyptian exhibit, which made me all too happy. They had a Sphinx, and of course hieroglyphics were everywhere, and of course there was the Ramses II statue of which I had to take a picture. I can't forget the stone of hieroglyphics half drawn, half chiseled that I imagine must have been a work in progress forever frozen in such a state, and a burial mask. There was a sheet of papyrus, and musical instruments (some of which looked familiar), a makeup case, with containers, all long empty. So many artifacts.
I can't help but wonder, thousands of years from now, will there be museums dedicated to the artifacts of our civilization (which, we must be honest, will no last forever). Will there be old print books on display, crumbling aged wedding dressed, photographs and paintings of modern art? Will shirts from Walmart be on display, and there be an entire exhibit dedicated to, of all things, the Simpsons in their multimedia prevalence? Will our curtains hang in a future museum, or piece of out buildings, models of famous buildings, be on display?
I don't know. We're hardly an interesting exhibit, at this first decade of the millennium. Perhaps our second decade will be more interesting. Then again, they could always place things from the sixties next to things from the nineties as an example of our culture. Imagine a hippie VW bus placed next to the Android statue.
Ah, but back to the now, and not to the future. The Louvre.
Apparently, the ancient Egyptians had some sort of zodiac as well, and there was this zodiac wheel, no joke, on the ceiling. It was hard to manage a picture of this at all!
I will say, that from their exhibit of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, blues, green, and reds were definitely preferred colors. Teals were there a lot as well, on statues, bowls and the like.
As I continued on, I must remind myself to look up. Why? Well, if you look up, you can see a painting of France and Egypt's relationship, which is, of course, a good one historically. I say this because there was a very clear painting on the ceiling of the Louvre (at one time a palace, which must be remembered) of an Egyptian ruler, the spirit of France, and several angels. Only the ruler was a female, and not very Cleopatra-ish, so I am assuming that this is the spirit of Egypt.
It was rather on the ceiling, so hardly had a plaque explaining which is what. Suddenly, after exiting this very Egyptian themed room, I find myself in a room of Grecian artifacts, such as jewelry and the like, then back to a central location, where, no joke, I got to see a restoration area for many of the artifacts, though it was not currently in use. I still took pictures.
Now I didn't take my Mona Lisa pictures very well the first time through. It was hard to press in. But when I found myself back in that area, I decided to take my time through this long hall of paintings, examining many of them with the occasional statue to look at. This time through, I managed to get decent pictures, and it was much nicer. I was, at this point, more interested in other painting though, such as a giant one that depicted the fall of Lucifer, and several of the Madonna and child,and the St. Stephen.
There was also this set of portraits of two women who looked almost exactly alike. They were apparently mother and daughter, as a nearby tour guide explained, and the differences were clear in age by the amount of skin showing. That is to say, Mother had the skin of her arms showing while Daughter wore long gloves to hide this.
I suppose I should mention something I found odd. In the Palace of Versailles there were large paintings adorning the walls. In the Louvre, there were, no joke, the exact same paintings, on a slightly different scale, with every detail the same. It wasn't even a mockery. Both were about the coronation of Napoleon, apparently, but both involved him crowning a woman, who I will assume if his wife. This isn't the only duplicate.
However, I ust move on from this conundrum to another curiosity. A painting of Selene and Endymion. This was, by the way, the Roman moon goddess and a shepherd boy so handsome she believed herself in love with him. He was put into an eternal sleep however, and it's a rather sad tale in all.
As I continued my whirlwind self guided (lost again) tour I was forced to pause in utter confusion at the sight of a man's head on a platter. Like one you'd display a cake on, and no that isn't a joke. I suppose there's a reason for the idiom "head on a platter" after all. Paintings. Who knew.
I don't think I want to know the story for that one.
Of course, there was also a painting of David and Goliath which took me a moment to recognize. Then, finally, I found my way to what was supposed to be the first stop, Michelangelo's Captive slave!
Okay, dude. You don't look like a captive slave to me, unless it's a captive slave to love. Seriously Michelangelo. That expression, and it looks like he's removing his shirt. There had to be context I do not know here. There just has to be.
Well, I was in the Greek sculptures area again (there's like three of those by the way. At least) admiring the artwork of talented men and probably talented women, when I say something that I had to get a close up of. But I couldn't get close enough, due to a tour group surrounding it, so meanders around, taking pictures until I could.
There's one of a guy who's slayed a dragon. Now these are Greek sculptures, so it isn't Saint George. Any ideas? There's also one of a veiled woman, and one of a woman facing away on her side. I should like to note, no matter where you take this woman's picture, she's not looking at you. That took talent.
Then, three or four statues later, I was able to get close enough to actually see the expressions. This was the famous Eros and Psyche statue, and the expression on both was positively enamored. It was also one I had seen before, and for a moment, just a moment, I saw not Eros and Psyche, but my sister and brother in law. That was how they looked at each other when no one was looking.
I was astounded. Huh. So that's what love looks like. It's always good to know. If anyone asks me, I can now tell them. But enough sap (again).
Onto more statues! These are made of multiple types of marble, and apparently I missed a famous one in this exhibit, somewhere, but that's fine by me. I saw a wonderful statue out of myth, and the back of a giant statue in storage, standing upright in a box. Apparently, there was no other way to store it. As the thing was at least two stories high, I can understand.
From there, I managed into the Hall of Apollo again, thoroughly lost, and trying to find my way out to look at the glass pyramids of the Louvre. Perhaps someone with my lack of sense of direction shouldn't explore museums the size three stacked football fields unaccompanied. Then, lo and behold, an exit! I looked around outside, snapped a few shots, nibbled my lunch, before heading back inside and to the bus. My trip to the Louvre was over. But oh, it was so very worth it, every single step and second.
One Final Byte: I will go to Paris again for this.