Saturday, May 4, 2013

Back at the Louvre

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, after touring many of the great art collections of Europe, I have to give the Louvre the nod as the largest and overall most impressive collection I’ve seen.  Others sometimes speak more to my heart, but the Louvre is simply overwhelming. 

On the walk to it, I took a different path than usual and strolled by this lovely church, whose name I never caught.

Click on any image to see a larger version.

On the lawn across the street from the pyramid, people enjoyed the day that was, despite being completely overcast, balmy and lovely.

The first sight of Winged Victory of Samothrace always touches me. 

Up close, despite the missing bits and the restoration, she is truly magnificent, lovely from every angle and, for me, more moving than most sculpture. 

What remains of her right hand sits in a nearby case, an oddly touching fragment reaching forever for nothing.

If you’ve read my Florence entries, you know how much I love certain Italian painters.  One of my favorites is Botticelli.  I don’t recall seeing frescoes from him, but I in the Louvre I was lucky enough to get to study two of them.  Both are clearly incompletely but nonetheless beautiful. 

The Louvre will take on anyone in any area.  You want a ceiling fight?  The Louvre is ready.

Gorgeous work by Lippi was readily available. 

Want some more Botticelli?  Take three. 

Okay, make it four.

By the way, the Louvre permits non-flash photography, so I wasn’t breaking any rules this time.

One side of one floor of one of the four major wings is the Grand Gallery.  I took this shot from one end to give you a sense of the scale of just this one gallery.

As near as I could tell, they don’t know who painted this one, but it interested me.

How Bartolomeo got away with painting this odd tableau I do not know, but I very much liked it.

Veronese was definitely in the house!

If I hadn’t seen his largest painting—and the world’s largest oil painting—in Venice, this would have been the biggest Veronese work I’d ever seen.

I know next to nothing about Paris Bordone, but after seeing this beautiful portrait, I want to see more of his work. 

Titian had a presence.

As did the amazing Raphael. 

Andrea di Bartolo filled a few walls.  I quite liked this one.

And then there were the Da Vinci paintings.  Yes, I again saw the Mona Lisa, though only through a giant scrum of people kept at bay by a wood partition, four guards, and two layers of glass.  Yes, the Mona Lisa is all you’ve heard and more.  So, though, are the other works of his on display. 

Any time you start to think you’re smart and feel like you might be getting too big for your britches, no matter you are, think about Da Vinci, and get humble.  I sure do. 

My new buddy, Arcimboldo (go back to the Vienna entries to see more of his work), had two pieces here, including this entry in his Seasons series, Autumn. 

As big as many of the paintings in the Grand Gallery were, the Louvre has a whole section of a wing dedicated to “large-format” paintings.  Among them was this wonderful Delacroix. 

Ingres’ Odalisque deserves all the praise it’s received, more lovely in person than in any book. 

I like David’s work, but a lot of it feels static and posed.  For no good reason, this one did not strike me that way, and I very much liked it. 

Hours after entering it, I left the Louvre, my brain and heart full from so much great art.  After two long visits to it, I hadn’t seen even a quarter of it.  Another reason to go back to Paris!

I wish I were wealthy enough to be able to take all my friends to the Louvre and these other great galleries.  Seeing the art in person is a completely different experience from studying it in a book. 

Outside, a gorgeous spring garden provided a great way for me to re-enter the world. 

The back of Notre Dame in the fading light of a gray day. 

The day ending, on the bridge to Notre Dame from Ile Saint-Louis, a strange man chanted and invoked odd magicks in the service of odd art from recycled materials—and in the hopes of gathering a few coins from passersby.

Ah, Paris, I will miss you!

Now, I’m in Miami International Airport waiting for the flight to RDU.  It’s also good to be back in the U.S. 

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