La Joconde is an old acquaintance of mine. We met in 1962 when I visited for the first time Le Louvre.
There was no pyramid; the facades of the Louvre were of a dirty grey color as most of the buildings of Paris. No queue at the entrance of the museum. We were only a few visitors in front of Mona Lisa!
There were even no pickpockets in those blessed years of the golden sixties!
Since then I have been several times to the Louvre passing by the Mona Lisa -La Joconde.
From an academic point of view there is no doubt for me that this portrait is excellent. The enigmatic-ironic smile of the model certainly contributed to its glory.
But … if on my first visit in 1962 I felt curiosity "so that's Mona Lisa", I never felt on my many visits that emotion, attraction, complicity which I often felt with other portraits and I have seen many portraits of women painted in the 15th and 16th century when lived Leonardo da Vinci.
For example these ladies I met at the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, "Gemäldegalerie - Extraordinary paintings.". I had a real "coup de coeur" for these women painted by Van der Weyden, Petrus Christus and Botticelli in the 15th c.
Or this lady by Robert Campin (1435) at the National Gallery, London. "Sainsbury wing"
A paradoxical example of portraits for which I felt more interest than Mona Lisa was from da Vinci himself "The Lady with an Ermine" (Krakow museum)!
These ladies gone since centuries made me think of "La Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis" (Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past) a poem from François Villon (1461)
Dictes moy ou n'en quel pays
Est Flora le belle Romaine
Qui beaulté ot trop plus qu'humaine.
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?
Tell me where, in which country
Is Flora, the beautiful Roman;
Who had a beauty too much more than human?
Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!?
Since September 3, 2013 the Winged Victory of Samothrace is undergoing a conservation treatment.
My photo on 25/08/2013 is therefore one of the last made of the Victoire de Samothrace, one of the highlights of Le Louvre. The project is expected to take about 18 months to complete and will involve a certain reorganization. The Victory will be unavailable for viewing till summer 2014.
The purpose of the conservation project is to clean the monument, which is made of different kinds of marble. Once the statue has been removed from its boat-shaped base, the 23 blocks that form the boat and pedestal will be dismantled for cleaning."
If the monument should be back next summer the Daru staircase which provides the perfect setting for the Winged Victory of Samothrace and usually very crowded with visitors heading for the Joconde-Mona Lisa, will have its walls, floors, vaulted ceilings and railings refurbished. The cleaning of the staircase should be complete for the spring 2015.
Special exhibition: THE SPRINGTIME OF THE RENAISSANCE.
Since end September there is a special exhibition "The Springtime of the Renaissance - Sculpture and the Arts in Florence, 1400-1460" going on till January 6, 2014 in the Hall Napoléon under the Pyramid. There are about 140 works, many from the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence and other Italian museums.
A lot of people want to see the top ten pieces at the Louvre. The most famous is, of course, DaVinci's Mona Lisa, which is a portrait of the wife of Francesco del Giacondo, presumably painted between 1503 and 1506. The painting was acquired by King Francis I of France and now belongs to the French Republic.
I got to the Louvre very early and eventually I got to see the Mona Lisa. Back then, there were fewer security measures, you could basically go right up to the painting and take a picture with the Mona Lisa. I did it and the girl that took my picture with Mona did it too, nobody said anything. Today, you are not allowed to get quite as close and the painting itself is protected by glass so that some nutcase won't try to take a knife to it. Security is relatively low key. (Photo 2 shows you the Mona Lisa as displayed in Oct. 2013)
You imagine the Mona Lisa is a huge painting, it is not! It's famous, sure, and its a great painting, no doubt about it. Perhaps no painting in the history of humanity has had so much commentary and analysis made about it. Who the person in the painting actually was, was it perhaps the artists portrayal of himself etc etc.
In honesty, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa after seeing her live. Great painting-absolutely. A bit smaller and darker than I had thought it might be. In a museum of so many great paintings, this one seemed well....a bit ordinary, really.
NEVER GO TO LE LOUVRE WITHOUT BUYING YOUR TICKET IN ADVANCE. You will be lining up, sometimes a several hundred meter long line and maybe in the rain like you will see from my photos on a Sunday of end August at the Pyramid.
But where to buy your tickets in advance?
On the contrary of the Musée d'Orsay you CAN NOT PRINT AT HOME THE TICKETS BOUGHT ONLINE on the:
TicketWeb (permanent collections), Canada and US addresses only.
FNAC (permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, auditorium events, lectures and symposia, workshops).
Ticketnet (tickets for the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions).
Note that these tickets must be picked up at the stores listed on each website or send by post to your address (with surcharge for the post). They can not be picked up at the Louvre museum.
I use to buy them at the FNAC shops; there are many in Paris. You pay 13,60 € instead of the official 12,00 € price at the Louvre. The difference is well worth not waiting in the line.
But note that with this advance bought ticket you can only enter by the special fast line at the Pyramide; you can not enter by the underground Carousel entry reserved for groups I understood.
So if it is raining don't forget your umbrella because you have to walk to the Pyramide and stand a few minutes in a short file because the "brilliant" architect who created the Pyramid has only foreseen two small doors to enter and two small escalators to go down to the main hall (where are several ticket counters and machines for those who stood in the long line outside).
To make things worse for individual visitors even with advance bought tickets or Paris Museum Pass I heard that the entry Passage Richelieu was closed and the Porte des Lions is now also often closed.
N.B. Maybe I'm wrong to write such warning tips to avoid the lining?
If every tourist going to the Louvre reads VT and buys tickets in advance the long line will be the priority line on the left at the Pyramid! But I have seen from experience that few visitors read VT; my first tip on VT about avoiding lines is from 2006 with photos of people standing in the rain and in 2013 the tourists are still lining up!
Van Eyck & Vermeer.
Two of the best painters of their time can be admired on level 2 from the Richelieu wing (room 38), which is far away from La Joconde in the opposite wing Denon with its crowds.
Everybody knows Vermeer from the Dutch 17th c. "Gouden Eeuw" (Golden Age) school. The Louvre has "La Dentellière - The Lace maker" and the "Astronomer".
"The Astronomer" and "The Geographer" (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt) are the only paintings by Vermeer showing a male person, probably the same man in the same interior.
On my first visits here in the 1990s there were nearly no visitors in this section of the Richelieu wing. Now there are some but no crowd like in front of the Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. See Rijksmuseum Gouden Eeuw and Rijksmuseum.
But let go back by two centuries to the years 1400 with what we call in Belgium the "Flemish Primitives" with a future icon of Le Louvre: "La Vierge du Chancelier Rolin" by Jan van Eyck in 1435 (room 5).
I say a future icon of Le Louvre because this painting is now already marked as one of the highlights on the museum map; guides with school groups make a long stop here and the French TV showed a 20 minutes document about all aspects - symbolism, techniques, perspective - of this highlight of the Flemish primitives. Van Eyck was one of the first artists to use oil paint.
Nicolas Rolin (1376?–1462), who was chancellor to Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, is kneeling before the Virgin and Child. The Virgin is seated on a marble throne wearing a full, embroidered cloak adorned with precious stones.
Here I must say that the red color of her cloak seemed somewhat dull and brownish as compared to photos on the website of Le Louvre, who show a brilliant red which is not what one sees on the wall of the museum. I fear that the glass protecting the painting is the reason of these dull colors (the same happens with La Joconde looking greenish). In a second photo I saturated somewhat the red color.
The idealized landscape in the back is imaginary, full of architectural symbols.
Despite numerous attempts, it is impossible to identify the cities on both sides of the river with towns in Flanders. These are symbolic images of the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem, traditionally placed on the left and right, separated by the river of life.
I observed that the texts on the explanatory panels for all the works of art in wing Richelieu have been extended and are well documented. (They are only in French but visitors can use audio guides and I don't remember having seen explanations in another language than English in the museums of the UK).
If you would like to know more about this highlight of Le Louvre go the website http://musee.louvre.fr/oal/viergerolin/indexFR.html (in French).
It's one of the largest and most revered in the world.
It sprawls across the site of a former medieval fortress whose ancient foundations still exist.
It has over 35,000 fascinating sculptures, paintings, prints and decorative objects spanning multiple millennia.
You would put 12 miles on your sensible walking shoes trying to see all of it.
Between jet lag and a serious fit of the tizzies over seeing the Mother of Paris Art Museums, we were up at 3:30 our first morning and wandering deserted streets looking for coffee. We finally found a McCafé over on Rue de Rivoli that opened early and so fortified with latte and pastry, we were ready to conquer the vast and hallowed halls of Palais du Louvre.
Much has been written about best ways to get yourself inside without hours of standing about, and the rules have changed since our last visit but suffice it to say that you'll spend less time standing about in ticket lines if you have an advance ticket, Paris Pass or Paris Museum Pass in your hand. Individual entrances are assigned to ticket/passholders and those without; see this page for what those are:
The website is your best source of current information, and it is a wealth of it: interactive floor plans; virtual tours; visitor amenities; rules and regulations; etc. Do spend some time browsing the contents before your visit as it'll help you hit the ground running!
In a nutshell:
• Open every day from 9:00 - 6:00 except Tuesdays and some holidays. See website for current ticket prices, EEA free admission, etc. Children under age 18 are free.
• Open until 9:45 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays. This is a great way to spend an evening when other museums are closed! I will mention that some of the windowed galleries are very dimly lit so their paintings will be difficult to see after dark.
• Your ticket/museum pass allows you to leave/re-enter the museum during the day. A Paris Museum Pass allows you as many visits as the duration days of your pass.
• Photography and video recording are allowed but no flash
• Multimedia guides are available for rent in 6 different languages, and multiple profiles (adult, child, hearing-impared, etc.)
• There are free maps of all three wings at the visitor's entrance hall. If there is a very popular piece you want to see - such as the Mona Lisa - I would suggest knowing the location before you go and making a beeline to it when the doors open. The floor plans on the website will help you locate the most visited pieces or genres of art: click "floor plans" under "Plan your visit."
• The background and architecture of this former palace is as impressive as the collections so a read of its history is highly recommended: http://www.louvre.fr/en/history-louvre
The Louvre, being such a huge museum, is divided up into three “wings”:
• The big hollow square at the back, meaning the East, is called the Sully Wing, named after Maximilien de Béthune, the first Duke of Sully (1560–1641), who was the Finance Minister and chief advisor to King Henry IV.
• The north wing, which runs for several blocks along the Rue de Rivoli, is called the Richelieu Wing after Cardinal Richelieu (Armand Jean du Plessis, 1585–1642), who was not only a Cardinal but also the Chief Minister of King Louis XIII, the son of Henry IV.
• The south wing, which stretches along the right bank of the Seine, is called the Denon Wing after Dominique Vivant, Baron Denon (1747–1825), an archeologist, diplomat, author and artist who was appointed by Napoléon as the first director of the Louvre Museum in 1802. The Denon Wing is the most popular of the three (and hence the most crowded), because the Mona Lisa is on display there, also the Crowning of Napoleon and other well-known works.
In 2013 I had the great pleasure of spending a day at the Louvre in the company of VT member breughel (Eddy), who is our resident expert on paintings and tapestries. We decided in advance to concentrate on the Richelieu Wing, where I hadn’t been for six years, because he wanted to show me some of his favorite paintings there and because I wanted to see the large collection of medieval and renaissance tapestries under his guidance.
My first photo on this tip is a portrait of Saint Madeleine (aka Mary Magdalene) by the Flemish painter Quentin Metsys (1466-1530). This is a fairly recent acquisition, having been bought by the Louvre in 2006 for a reported five million Euros. It is on display in room 9 on the second floor of the Richelieu Wing, along with three other paintings by the same artist.
Second photo: This is another painting by Quentin Metsys, called The Moneylender and His Wife. Here we have a contrast between the greedy money-lender, who is weighing pearls, jewels, and pieces of gold, and his pious wife, who is being distracted from the religious book she is reading. The Louvre’s website says that this painting “is an allegorical and moral work, condemning avarice and exalting honesty,” and that it was once owned by the painter Peter Paul Rubens.
A point to note is that the moneylender’s wife is reading a religious book, but it is not the Bible. Reading the Bible was a capital offense in Catholic Flanders in the sixteenth century, because it was considered a subversive act, something only Protestants would do. In 1543, thirteen years after the death of Quentin Metsys, his sister Catherine and her husband were both put to death for reading the Bible – his head was chopped off and she was allegedly buried alive in the square in front of the church.
Third photo: Another painting in the same room is this one of Saint Jerome in the desert by Joachim Patinir (1480-1524). Patinir was a student and friend of Quentin Metsys; when Patinir died in 1524, Metsys became the guardian of his children.
Fourth photo: Next door in room 10 is this famous French painting from the Fontainebleau school of the late 16th century. It is presumed to be a portrait of Gabrielle d'Estrées, the chief mistress of Henry IV, and her sister, the Duchess of Villars. According to the Louvre’s website, the “ostentatious gesture” of the Duchess pinching her sister’s nipple “may be an allusion to Gabrielle's pregnancy and the birth in 1594 of César de Vendôme, the illegitimate son of Henry IV.”
Fifth photo: Here Eddy (VT member breughel) is taking pictures of two famous paintings by Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675). On the left is The Lacemaker from 1669-1671, and on the right is The Astronomer from 1668. These paintings are on display in room 38 on the second floor of the Richelieu Wing.
Next review from September 2013: Tapestries at the Louvre
Three of the major museums in Paris have divided up the History of Art among themselves. The Louvre, being the largest, is responsible for Art from the earliest times up to 1847. The Musée d'Orsay takes over for the remarkable sixty-six years from 1848 to 1914, and the Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Pompidou shows works from 1914 to the present -- though this is not a hard and fast rule, and there is inevitably some overlapping.
I can think of one other city that has a similar division of epochs among its major museums, namely Munich, which has the Alte Pinakothek for European paintings from the 14th to 18th centuries, the Neue Pinakothek for the 19th century and the Pinakothek der Moderne for 20th and 21st century art.
There are 35,000 works of art on display in the Louvre, so it's sort of like the internet -- you can't possibly see them all, so you have to navigate to see what you want, or take potluck. And don't let yourself be overwhelmed by the sheer masses of fantastic artworks! My first photo is from room 39 on the second floor of the Richelieu wing, showing Dutch masterpieces from the second half of the 17th century.
Second photo: To enter the Louvre, most people wait in a long line at the Pyramid in the central courtyard, but it goes faster if you buy a Museum Pass or simply an advance admission ticket, both of which are available at the fnac stores or at the Civette du Carrousel in the Carrousel du Louvre. These allow you to enter the museum more quickly through the priority entrance, which is now also at the Pyramid (as of 2013), not in the Passage Richelieu where it used to be. When planning your visit, please remember that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.
Third photo: Le Pont du Rialto (Rialto Bridge in Venice) by Antonio Canal, aka CANALETTO (1697- 1768), in hall C on the second floor of the Sully wing.
Fourth photo: La nuit ; un port de mer au clair de lune (The night ; a seaport by moonlight), painted in 1771 by Joseph Vernet (1714-1789). On display in room 52 on the second floor of the Sully wing.
Fifth photo: The Galerie d'Apollon (Gallery of Apollo) has recently been restored after three years of work funded by a corporate sponsor. It is in hall 66 on the first floor of the Denon wing.
Rubens and Marie de' Medici in the Louvre
Ladies of the Louvre
The medieval Louvre
Egyptian antiquities at the Louvre
Egyptian gods and temples in the Louvre
The royal tomb
The Seated Scribe
Musée Charles X
Carrousel du Louvre
Louvre: Hall Napoléon
Long lines at the Louvre (in the rain)
People under the Pyramid at the Louvre
Tapestries at the Louvre
Claude Lorrain at the Louvre
The Richelieu Wing of the Louvre
On the first floor of the Richelieu Wing of the Louvre there are several large rooms devoted to sixteenth-century Renaissance tapestries. I recently had the privilege of going through these rooms with VT member breughel (Eddy), who is a connoisseur not only of paintings but also of tapestries, especially those from his home country of Belgium.
I was especially interested in seeing these historic tapestries because a few weeks earlier I had toured the Gobelin manufactory in Paris and seen how tapestries are made by traditional weaving methods – a very slow and laborious process!
One of the large galleries in the Louvre, room 19, displays all twelve tapestries of the series “The Hunts of Maximilian”. Since there is one tapestry for each month of the year, we can infer that the hunting season was open all year round in those days – at least for Maximilian I, who was the emperor and could hunt whenever and wherever he pleased.
In addition to hunting, Maximilian I was also a big fan of jousting. In German he was known as der letzte Ritter (the last knight), because he kept on jousting in tournaments even after this sort of combat had become obsolete on the battlefield.
When he wasn’t hunting or jousting, Maximilian I also fought several wars to expand his empire, but in fact the largest expansions of his empire came through the marriages that he arranged for himself, his son and his grandson.
All these hunting scenes take place in the outskirts of Brussels or the nearby Sonian Forest. Eddy told me that some of the buildings in the background still exist in Brussels today. He also pointed out the symbol in the lower left hand corner of some of the tapestries:
This means that the tapestry was woven in “Brussels in Brabant”.
The designs (known as ‘cartoons’) for these tapestries were made by a painter named Bernard van Orley. Apparently the tapestries were commissioned by Maximilian’s grandson, Emperor Charles V, or by someone at his court. Sixty weavers worked for two years to produce the twelve tapestries.
The one in my first photo is from the month of March, which as Eddy explained was at that time the first month of the year.
To learn more about medieval and renaissance tapestries, please have a look at the many reviews on this subject by VirtualTourist member breughel, who has described tapestries on display in Paris, Krakow, Toulouse, Beaune and Brussels, among other places.
Fifth photo: This is an entirely different tapestry from room 10 on the first floor of the Richelieu Wing. It shows three phases of working with wool. The girl on the left is holding a sheep that she is going to shear. The young man in the middle is winding the wool into a ball and the girl on the left is weaving on a small portable loom.
This was known as a "Noble Pastorale" tapestry because is shows young lords and ladies playing at being shepherds. This was evidently a popular pastime for young aristocrats and is also reflected in numerous operas including Mozart’s La finta giardiniera ("The Pretend Garden-Girl") and Il rè pastore (“The Shepherd King”).
This style of tapestries is also called mille-fleurs meaning a thousand flowers, because of the many flowers in the background.
Next review from September 2013: Claude Lorrain at the Louvre
Later in the afternoon Eddy suggested that we look for the paintings of Claude Lorrain, which he hadn’t seen for a long time. I thought this was a great idea, since I had missed the big exhibition called "Claude Lorrain – The Enchanted Landscape” at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt in 2012.
With the help of a very nice museum guard who went out of his way to take us there, we finally found the paintings of Claude Lorrain in room 15 on the second floor of the Richelieu wing in the Louvre.
It turns out that the painter’s real name was Claude Gellée, but he was known as Claude Lorrain because he came from the Lorraine region in what is now northeastern France. (My theory is that he didn’t like the name Gellée because it sounded too much like jelly, but that’s just a guess, okay?)
The painting in my first photo is called Seaport with the Landing of Cleopatra in Tarsus. It was painted by Claude Lorrain in 1642-43 and is based on a real event that happened in 41 B.C. when Cleopatra went to the Turkish town of Tarsus to meet Mark Antony, whom she was determined to seduce for political reasons. She was so successful at this that they later lived together for several years and had two children together.
Cleopatra’s voyage to Tarsus was three years after the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. (Cleopatra was in Rome at the time) and seven years after Caesar’s arrival in Egypt in 48 B.C. The events of 48 B.C. were re-told in Händel’s great opera Julius Caesar in Egypt, which I have seen at the Garnier Opera in Paris and several times at the Frankfurt Opera, with Brenda Rae as Cleopatra.
(I must admit that I was never much interested in Cleopatra until I saw this opera, but now I feel as though I ‘know’ her.)
In Claude Lorrain’s painting, Cleopatra and Mark Antony and all the other people are quite small in comparison to the large ships and buildings – perhaps a hint that we should not take these Very Important People quite as seriously as they took themselves. Eleven years later, in 30 B.C., Cleopatra and Mark Antony were both dead.
Second photo: This painting by Claude Lorrain from the year 1646 is identified in English as Seaport, Effect of Mist (The Embarkation of Ulysses, or of Aeneas, Iulus, and Achates?). The artist only noted that he had painted it “for Paris”, but he didn’t say for whom. In any case, the painting was acquired by the King Louis XIV in 1695.
Third photo: A view of Rome called Seaport with the Campidoglio, painted by Claude Lorrain in 1636.
Fourth photo: Ulysses Returning Chryseis to Her Father, painted by Claude Lorrain sometime around 1644. This was based on an incident that supposedly took place during the Trojan War in the 13th or 12th century BC, as described in Homer’s Iliad. Actually Agamemnon should have returned Chryseis himself, since he was the one who had abducted her in the first place, but he was so upset about losing Chryseis that he sent Ulysses (Odysseus) to do it for him.
Chryseis was presumably a very attractive young lady, but it’s hard to tell from the painting since she and the others are all so small. In fact I have yet to figure out which of the people is Chryseis, which is her father and which is Odysseus. As Eddy pointed out, the remarkable thing about this painting is the sunlight. The setting sun is hidden behind the large sailing ship (larger than any the Greeks are likely to have actually had during the Trojan War) and only one ray of sunlight is reflected on the water of the harbor reaching all the way to the shore.
Fifth photo: This one is described as The Port of Genoa, View from the Sea. It was painted by Claude Lorrain between 1627 and 1629. The museum’s website says that this view “is notable for its topographical accuracy. The artist may have drawn on an engraving to help with the composition, but he certainly saw the city in 1627 while he was returning to France by sea.”
Next review from September 2013: Long lines at the Louvre (in the rain)
The space under the Pyramid is the central entrance hall of the Louvre, where people without tickets can line up to buy them and where all visitors can have access to the three huge wings of the Louvre, called the Sully, Denon and Richelieu Wings, as well as access to the temporary exhibitions in the underground Hall Napoléon.
After seeing all these people under the Pyramid, I went home and looked up some statistics about how many people visit the Louvre each year. For the year 2010, the official figure given by the French Ministry of Culture was 8,346,421, which makes the Louvre by far the most visited museum in the world. Fortunately it is also one of the largest, so in most parts of the museum (unless you insist on seeing the Mona Lisa or some such) you generally do not feel uncomfortably crowded.
The museum is only closed on Tuesdays and on January 1, May 1 and December 25, which means that in 2010 it was open on 310 days (because the three holidays did not happen to fall on Tuesdays that year). Dividing 8,346,421 by 310, we can work out that on an average day there are 26,924 people in the museum.
One reason for building the Pyramid in the first place was that the museum’s traditional entrances could not handle the large numbers of people that were already coming at the time. But museum attendance has more than doubled since the Pyramid was inaugurated in 1989, so now it, too, is inadequate for the task.
Next review from September 2013: The life of rail
The Museum, is one of the most important museums in the world, is located in the first district, in central Paris.
This museum is very famous to everyone who came to visit Paris, the large glass and metal pyramid is added to one of the beauty outside the museum in Louvre. Winter or summer the long row for ticketing is line-up
The most recent change to the Louvre was the addition of modern glass pyramid that serves as an entrance to the museum. The pyramid was built in 1989 by the renowned American architect IM Pei
The modern design was initially received with mixed feelings because of the stark contrast with the classical facades that surround the glass pyramid but is now impossible to imagine the Louvre complex. Thanks to the pyramid, there is now a large, central entrance from which the whole museum is easily accessible without having to be. Accustomed to the existing heritage
It's the Louvre. If you're in Paris, it's a must!
So many people go there to see La Jaconde (the Mona Lisa) that it's pretty much a bucket list cliche. While it is a great painting, it also wasn't very famous until it was stolen in 1911, and wasn't really revered as a 'masterpiece' until after it was returned. It is, of course, worth seeing if you go to the Louvre, but is covered by glass and somewhat dark, so it's difficult to get a good picture.
My favorite parts of the Louvre were the sculptures--the ancient Greek and Roman ones, as well as the Renaissance-era ones that look like Greek and Roman sculptures (but with more limbs intact :) ). Stop by "Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss", the "Rebellious Slave" and the "Dying Slave" by Michelangelo, the Venus de Milo, and you won't be able to miss the Winged Victory of Samothrace as you ascend the main staircase.
And now--some advice on navigating the Louvre. It's so large that the only way you can really do it in a day is to make a list of the things you want to see and work your way to those ones, while spotting a few other gems along the way. Be sure to look at your map closely--after wandering down the long hall of paintings, none of which were very interesting to us, we wanted to go back to the bottom floor and meander back through the sculptures to meet up with our group. Instead, we ended up trapped in the "Miscellaneous" Louvre section (actually called something like "Arts of Africa, Asia, and the Americas"), which is not a terribly impressive collection, and of which there is no way out, except to go back up and walk through the hall of paintings which we had already seen. Lesson learned: make sure all the places you want to go actually connect on the map. It might be a good idea to sit down with the map they give you for a few minutes and plan out your route. It's also a convenient map because many of the masterpieces are labeled on it--everything on our must-see list was marked, which made navigating pretty easy, besides the part where we got trapped in the non-European art collection. Also remember that your Louvre ticket will let you in and out for that day, so you can always take a break and go back. And if you want to avoid the throng of tourists at the Pyramid entrance, enter through the Carousel entrance for a much shorter wait.
You definitely cannot miss this while you're in Paris!
Last week (9/08/2013) in the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata in Florence the team of historian Silvano Vinceti opened the family tomb of Francesco del Giocondo, whose wife Lisa Gherardini might have been the model for Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting the Mona Lisa.
Scientists hope to trace the family DNA - the two sons of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo are buried in this tomb - and compare them with those of three women buried in the St. Ursula convent not far away. The remains of one of the three, including a skull, could be those of Lisa Gherardini.
If a correspondence is established between the DNA a facial reconstruction could be made starting from that skull and compare it with the Joconde of the Louvre to find out if the model for the Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci was really Lisa Gherardini or not.
Maybe that Mona Lisa was just a representation from the imagination of the painter?
Congratulations; you followed my tip "Mona Lisa in the crowd" and thanks to your height over 1.90 m, weight of 100 kg and your practice of rugby or football you were able to approach "La Joconde" the goal of your quest for the "Holy Grail".
After the immobility of Mona Lisa you might like to discover the movement of the 19th century with the Romantic school as expressed by Théodore Géricault and his famous large painting (5 x 7 m.) "Le Radeau de la Méduse" (wing Denon, room 77).
The terrible story of the wreck of the French frigate "La Méduse" is a real one (1816) and Géricault put a lot of realism in his painting.
From the 150 man on the raft only five survived and it was said that there was cannibalism!
No doubt that Géricault expressed a paradox: how to make a strong painting of a hideous motive, how to reconcile the art and the reality? He refused the constraints of the classic standards and looked for a more free way of painting. He used morbid, macabre colours, illustrating the death. Unfortunately, for the conservation of this painting, Géricault used dark pigments based on bitumen which don't dry well and, by passing through the paint layers, cause cracks and a general darkening effect.
The horror of this subject fascinated and divided critics when it was shown at the Salon of 1819 as well as it does now in contrast with the placid Mona Lisa.
For the full story of the "Méduse" I recommend (in French):
Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: from 9 to 18 h.
Wednesday, Friday: from 9 to 22 h.
Closed on Tuesday.
Entrances to the museum:
- Pyramid and Galerie du Carrousel entrances: from 9 to 22 h.
- Passage Richelieu entrance: from 9 to 18 h.
- Porte des Lions entrance: from 9 to 17.30 h., except Wednesday & Friday.
Price tickets for the Permanent Collections (01/07/2013)
€12 - full-day access to the Louvre, except for temporary exhibitions (13 €) in the Hall Napoléon
Free less than 18 yr.
Free 18 - 25 yr from the EU.