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Paris Trip – Day 5

Bonjour! Today was spent at the Louvre. It’s an absolutely gigantic museum, so I’ll tell you now that I only scratched the surface. If I have time this trip, I hope to go back again before I leave. This time I focused primarily on 16th and 17th century paintings (and any nearby stuff that looked cool). As usual, beware of boobies. Let’s get started!

There is a subway stop right underneath the Louvre, which is perfect when the weather is predicted to be rainy (which it was). It’s also a cool way to see the Louvre for the first time as you surface from underground to see the grandeur of the main entryway underneath the pyramid. My dad snapped a picture of me while we were riding the subway. I guess the guy in the background was moving pretty fast. He looks like a ghost. Riding the Metro to the Louvre
Satellite view of the Louvre - stolen from Google Here is a satellite view of the Louvre that I stole from Google Maps. If you zoom in, you’ll see that the tiny little specs are people. The place is HUGE. Let’s run some numbers:

  • The grounds of the Louvre comprise over 3 MILLION square feet.
  • The interior display space inside the Louvre is over 650,000 square feet.
  • The Louvre has over 427,654 individual pieces of art in its permanent collection.

So there’s really no way anyone could hope to see all of it in a day (or even a week). I suppose you could jog through the whole thing, but you won’t be able to actually APPRECIATE the art. Some of the paintings are so fantastic, they demand that you just stare at them for minutes on end.

Ah… the glass pyramids. There are actually several of them. Three upright ones dot the main entrance (the largest being the entrance itself). The second picture is under the main pyramid in the grand entryway to the Louvre. There is also one upside-down pyramid that hangs down inside by a shopping mall. The shopping mall is underground between the metro/train stops and the entrance to the Louvre. You actually have to stand in line by the upside-down pyramid to go through the metal detectors and into the main entryway (there’s a metal detector just inside the above-ground entrance as well). If you’ve read the DaVinci Code, then you know that the ground underneath the upside-down pyramid is the supposed resting place of Mary Magdalene. If you haven’t read the DaVinci code, then whoops… I just spoiled it. Anyway, it looks and sounds much cooler in the book and movie, but really… she’s buried under a shopping mall right next to a Virgin Megastore. The upside-down pyramid The main entryway underneath the pyramid Exterior shot of the glass pyramid
One of the many huge hallways in the Louvre One of the interior statue gardens in the Louvre These next two pictures serve to illustrate how large the Louvre is. The first image is of a hallway in the Italian paintings section. If you were to turn around from the picture, the hallway stretches just as far in the other direction. The second picture is of one of the several interior sculpture gardens. If you look at the satellite image, the Italian paintings hallway is the hallway furthest south. The sculpture gardens are in the middle northern section. The large angled roofs in the northern part are actually the glass ceilings over the sculpture gardens (you’ll notice that the gardens in the southern section aren’t covered – yet).

And now for movie time! I took a couple of quick shots, one of the outside and one inside the main entryway. Remember that this is just the entryway. As you watch the second half, notice that there are stairways leading up out of each side of the main square. This is how you get into the museum proper. Three of the branches take you into different portions of the museum (north, east, and south on the satellite map) and the west exit takes you to the shopping mall and metro/trains. Hopefully this will help to illustrate how large the museum really is. It’s like Disneyland indoors (the crowds are about as big too).

Ok, here are my favorites from the section of the Louvre that I visited. I mostly stuck with the Italian/French/Dutch/German paintings. Most were on the first floor in the south (Denon), and the rest were on the second floor in the north (Richelieu).

Dircé - Lorenzo Bartoloni Dircé – Lorenzo Bartoloni
When we entered the Louvre I said to my parents, “show me your favorite parts”. They immediately took me to the old Italian sculpture section. There were Michelangelo works, and the famous Psyche and Cupid, etc. So I was quite impressed (as I’m sure they expected me to be). I looked around the room for something “different” or maybe something that just appealed to me for no reason other than I liked to look at it. This is the one I settled on. I’m beginning to think that I only like art if it features naked women. But on the other hand, is that so wrong?
Le Jeune martyre - Paul Delaroche Le Jeune martyre – Paul Delaroche
Google Delaroche, you’ll see that, historically speaking, he was firing on all cylinders. This image pulled me to it like a magnet. Maybe it’s my fond memories of FFVII. Or maybe it’s just the exquisite artwork. Click on it and take a closer look.
La Chaste Suzanne - Chasseriau La Chaste Suzanne – Chasseriau
Unfortunately, I only snapped one picture of this artwork and it just didn’t turn out well. But I was so enamored with her beauty that I had to post it anyway. Hopefully, you can see the same beauty that I did through the blurry image. But hey, that’s just more motive for you to get your own ticket to Paris and lay your eyes on it in person, eh? Honestly, there’s nothing quite like leaning forward and smelling the oils on an ancient painting and eyeballing the brush strokes up close. These pictures are an enticement. To grok the full experience of Paris, you really truly must be here yourself. Consider it a call to Mecca.
Victory of Samothrace Posing by Victory of Samothrace Victory of Samothrace
This statue was found as a part of an excavation in Greece. As was the custom for the time, the Greek method of statue construction (along with all other forms of large construction) involved quarrying smaller pieces of stone and fitting them together. The Victory (named for the Greek godess Nike) was also composed of many separate parts. The legs, torso, arms, wings, and head were all separate pieces. Unfortunately, all the excavators found were the legs, torso, and pieces of the wings. The wings you see now were glued together from many fragments (along with makeshift pieces to fill the gaps). It dates back as far as 250BC and is admired because of its great attention to form and pose. It was originally designed to be displayed at the head of a mighty Grecian ship. Victory (or Nike) was just landing upon the ship’s prow to celebrate its great success in battle. Parts of the “ship” were also found and are displayed with the statue (although it rests on a cement platform to give it more drama). In the Louvre, the statue is displayed at the head of the staircase heading into the East (Sully) section of the museum and creates quite a breathtaking sight as you come upon it.
Saint Joseph Charpentier - Georges de La Tour Saint Joseph Charpentier – Georges de La Tour
There is a group of Georges de La Tour paintings all sitting next to one another in the museum. The most recognizable constant between them is the use of candles and lighting. This piece is, by far, the most impressive. It is a depiction of Joseph ministering (in carpentry) to a young Jesus who holds a candle to light his work. What stunned me was the way the candlelight is filtering through the hands of the young boy. It was so lifelike I couldn’t believe it. To give you an idea of how stunned I was, there were multiple artistic images of naked women in provocative poses all around this piece and I STILL gravitated towards it. I didn’t realize it was religious at first, but it doesn’t matter. The detail is stunning, regardless of the subject.
Jupiter et Antiope - Hendrick Goltzius Jupiter et Antiope – Hendrick Goltzius
I took one look at this painting and though, “Holy crap, is that woman squirting milk?” Yes she was, so I HAD to snap a pic. Too bad it was way up high or I would’ve gotten a better shot of… “the squirt”.
Intérieur d’eglise. Effet de nuit - Hendrick II van Steenwyk Intérieur d’eglise. Effet de nuit – Hendrick II van Steenwyk
That’s not a photo… it’s a painting. It’s from the 1600’s no less. Remarkable isn’t it?
Neveu de Salomon van Ruysdael - Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael Neveu de Salomon van Ruysdael – Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael
This is another example of a remarkably realistic looking painting (it was done in 1682). I don’t care much for the subject matter (dead animals? – popular Dutch subject it seems), but the accuracy of the detail warranted my attention.
The Life of Marie de’ Medici - Peter Paul Rubens The Life of Marie de’ Medici – Peter Paul Rubens
Ok, so by the time I stumbled upon this room, the loudspeakers were announcing the “get the hell out” messages (the Louvre was closing). So I meant to just zip through this room on the way towards the exit. However, I was floored by the series of 24 paintings that depicted an older graying woman in various states of undress in highly dramatized scenes along with various Greek gods and goddesses (and plenty of naked women). I thought, “what the hell is this all about?” It turns out that it was an overly dramatized telling of the life and times of Catherine de Medici. She commissioned these paintings to tell her life story. I snapped a picture and promised myself I would do more research on this when I got home. I did, and the results were fascinating. For the full story and more pictures, click the link. www.students.sbc.edu/vandergriff04
One of the great things about the Louvre is that it doesn’t just hold great works of art, it IS a great work of art. Many of the rooms are ornately decorated and feature fantastic ceiling frescoes. The building was originally a palace, so it makes sense. Here is one of the ones I thought was cool (naked chicks perhaps? – nah….). An example of the ceiling frescos in the Louvre

My parents have been to the Louvre many times before (they are “friends” of the Louvre – aka “members”) so they only stayed with me for the first hour and a half then left me on my own to explore more. I stayed until close and then found my way back to the apartment (via the subway) on my own. It’s funny how you take for granted having a regular “tour guide” until they’re no longer there. I did alright though and made my way home safe and sound.

We had a wonderful dinner at home which consisted of green-pepper marinaded steak, made-from-scratch mashed potatoes, and broccoli. It was so good I had to ask for the recipe so I can make it at home. What’s interesting about French steak is that the French butcher their cows completely differently than Americans do, so none of the cuts are the same and thus don’t have the same names. But it sure tastes yummy…

Well that’s all I have for today (as if I didn’t have much…). Tune in tomorrow where we head out of Paris for the first time and visit the charming village of Chartres and the impressive Notre Dame de Chartres church (which actually predates the Notre Dame in Paris). Au revoir!

3 Responses to “Paris Trip – Day 5”

  1. on 26 Sep 2007 at 11:18 pm Sarah

    I’m so jealous…The art that you’ve seen the last few days are by far the most extrordinary (sp?) things I’ve seen…Even though they are just pics and not the real thing..I’ve would’ve been that one “tourist” that stood there in awe with my jaw open just staring for hours…Glad to have read your blogs thus far..and also glad to see you’re having a great time…

  2. on 27 Sep 2007 at 9:27 am Brittnai

    OMG the louvre! Did you see Sophie Neveu or Robert Langdon? Surely they took you down below that big upside down glass pyramid and showed you the tomb of Mary Magdaline? Seriously though, I’m addicted to your blogs. I’m jealous of your adventures, but glad you’re having a good time.

  3. on 27 Sep 2007 at 4:11 pm Jessica

    All the art I’ve seen throughout your blog of Paris, France is truely remarkable. My favorite picture of art would have to be the Le Jeune martyre. So glad you are keeping on top of the bloging of Paris. Keep up the fantastic work. I would also like to have that recipe, please.

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