We continue our day in Paris after a great lunch just across the Seine overlooking Notre Dame. We were now ready for our dose of art at the Louvre.
The Louvre is a Palace which has been converted into a Museum and houses one of the largest collection of art in the world. Seeing all of the Louvre would take at least 3 full days and you would still have missed something. That’s how large the collection is!!Obviously we didn’t have that much time and I had marked out a few key pieces of art that I had heard so much about that I definitely wanted to see. Anything we saw on the way to seeing those was an added bonus!
We reached the Louvre and just followed the crowd to reach the security check and entrance points. The museum pass allows you to skip ticket buying lines but obviously not the security lines which are long themselves. We entered the vast underground lobby and the entrance to the three huge wings ( Denon, Richelieu and Sully) were in front of us.
We were concentrating on the Denon wing as it has the most famous Greek, Italian Renaissance art and time permitting select articles from the other wings. The first artwork on the hitlist was the “Venus de Milo”, a statue of the Goddess Aphrodite from 100 BC. We found it with the help of the amazing free map that the museum provides and the helpful museum staff. I’m not going to attempt describing the art and let the photos do their work.
After checking that off we went to the statue which I have liked for no reason other than it looks so regal. I had seen it on the staircase while searching for Venus de Milo and was eager to inspect it from close quarters. “The Winged victory of Samothrace”, which is a headless statue of victory striding forward. It once stood on a hilltop commemorating a naval victory. It is my favourite statue in the museum.
After gawking at the Goddess of victory and almost forgetting to take photos. Thankfully I remembered before we got too far, apologised to the lady and took her photos!! Next we passed through a gallery full of statues Greek Gods and it just feels grand. The statue of “Athena” lords over a corridor full of marble statues of structurally perfect statues that make you envious of their physique.
Even the ceilings and walls at the Louvre are a piece of art. The gold painted detailed ceiling work is almost as good as the famed ones at Versailles and deserve some attention on their own. In some rooms it’s difficult to decide to keep your attention on the ceiling and walls or the art in it.
Next on the list was the Italian renaissance era paintings ( Yes, Yes including the Mona Lisa!) . The collection is too vast to describe in a post of a 1000 words but it deserves a full day and I have promised myself that I would return and spend a day here if I’m back in Paris. The highlight of the collection for me is the “Marriage at Cana” by Paolo Veronese which shows the scene at the wedding where Jesus turned water to wine. The details and expressions in this super sized canvas is exquisite.
Just opposite the Wedding at Cana is a crowd of unruly people jostling to get a view of the underwhelming Mona Lisa. It took me a while to get through the bodies and get a peek of the smiling lady. But I was there and not doing that would be sacrilege!!
After the paintings by the Italian masters are galleries dedicated to French paintings. The grand “Coronation of Napoleon” and a haunting canvas showing survivors of a shipwreck on a raft called “The Raft of Medusa” are the ones which stay with you long after you have left the Louvre.
We left the wing through a gallery of which Michaelangelo’s Slaves statues are the centre piece. The statues and their efforts to get out of bondage look almost real. It is a fitting end to this wing of superlative art.
Most tour companies end their Louvre tour here but I wanted to see the Winged Bulls of Khorsabad. Excavated from the palace of Sargon II in ancient present day Iraq ( Mosul) and transported all the way to France to their resting place in the Louvre. This region today is a total no go for tourists and I wonder whether they would have lasted there under the present art destroying IS.
The whole room which shows entire walls of the buried and forgotten palace is just grand. How they transported the whole thing here is a mystery.
After seeing some other pieces of Egyptian and other Oriental art we were tired as hell and sat in the grand lobby just below one of the glass pyramids just to rest our legs. The lobby itself has many pieces of so called lesser art but it looks very pretty.
After a few minutes of resting our legs we left the Louvre and exited to the courtyard to take photos of the exterior and the famous glass pyramids. It had been an exhausting but enriching afternoon at one of the best museums in the world.
We walked across the road into the Tuileries garden & satiated our hunger on some delicious crepes and coffee at a stall in the Garden. Next for the day was a walk across the Tuileries garden and further on to the glamourous Champ Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. But that is topic for another post.
Hope you enjoyed this post about the Louvre. I know art isn’t everyones cup of tea, and hope I didn’t put you off art for good. If you go into the Louvre trying to see everything in 3-4 hours you will see nothing and hate the Louvre. Concentrate on what you want to see and spend time with the art and it will stay with you forever.
Till next time.