Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Paris - Musee de Louvre

Date of visit: 17th April 2014

Take note to have the same pose. Everybody should have this kind of moment

First and foremost, musee de Louvre is a must visit place when in Paris. It is a home of Monalisa, the world most famous painting, painted by Leonardo da Vincci, in Florence, Italy 500 years ago. A visit to Louvre would not be completed without paying a visit to Monalisa. The ambiguity of Monalisa's expression, which is frequently described as enigmatic, the monumentality of the composition, the subtle modeling of forms and the atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the continuing fascination and study of Leonardo's work. Before I share further background story of her, let's just first appreciate the building on the external part first and how to get there, what is this place for, most importantly what to expect when you reach there.

The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument. It is a central landmark of Paris, France, located on the right bank of the Seine river in the first district. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres. The Louvre is the world's most visited museum, and received more than 9.7 million visitors in 2012. How to reach there? It is very simple depending on mode of your preferred transportation. In our case, we were more than comfortable of utilizing our 2 days Paris Pass, taking a metro Line 1 which stop at Palais Royal - Musee du Louvre. It's as easy as ABC. The metro shall stop right at the huge mall with directional signage to assist you where to start your queue at. We arrived quite early that day, hence the queue lines were so short, better than what we expected. There's few entrances available, so, do not worry so much as 1 cannot get lost when you have reach this place.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace itself, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are still visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace, you may check the history from this website Louvre History. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Academie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces.

A huge Palace Louvre
Let's get back to Monalisa which is housed inside the museum, becoming the main attraction among the visitors. The Mona Lisa is actually a half-length portrait of a woman by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, which has been acclaimed as "the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world". The painting, thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel, and is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506, although Leonardo may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic, on permanent display at the Louvre museum in Paris since 217 years ago (from 1797).

The painting's fame was emphasized when it was stolen on 21 August 1911. It was 2 years later when the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia had stolen it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed Leonardo's painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum. 6 copies of the painting were created and sold in US during that time, but the original remained in Europe and after having kept the Mona Lisa in his apartment for 2 years, Peruggia grew impatient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and served 6 months in jail for the crime.

511 year old painting, placed under  bulletproof glass shielded from any attacks

I grew very fond with the artist, Leonardo da Vinci, mainly due to his intelligence. He was an Italian polymath, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of "unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination". According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and "his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote". Marco Rosci states that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time. Alas, reading the last piece about him from the book, “The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior” by Paul Strathern saddened me most. Hence, I rest my case when it came to him. The book circles about the Intersecting lives of Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the world they shaped during renaissance time.

Painting section - on the wall, on the ceilings, everywhere

Louvre museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum renamed the "Musee Napoleon". After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the 2nd French Empire where the museum gained 20,000 pieces. It has grown steadily through donations and gifts since the 3rd Republic. As of 2008, the collection is divided among 8 curatorial departments:-
1) Egyptian Antiquities, 
2) Near Eastern Antiquities, 
3) Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, 
4) Islamic Art, 
5) Sculpture,
6) Decorative Arts,
7) Paintings and
8) Prints and Drawings. 

The sculpture section comprises work created before 1850 that does not belong in the Etruscan, Greek, and Roman department. The Louvre has been a repository of sculpted material since its time as a palace; however, only ancient architecture was displayed until 1824, except for Michelangelo's Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave. Initially the collection included only 100 pieces, the rest of the royal sculpture collection being at Versailles. The collection's overview of French sculpture contains Romanesque works such as the 11th century Daniel in the Lions' Den and the 12th century Virgin of Auvergne. In the 16th century, Renaissance influence caused French sculpture to become more restrained.

The collection in “Near Eastern antiquities”, the 2nd newest section, dates from 1881 and presents an overview of early Near Eastern civilization and "first settlements", before the arrival of Islam really surprise me. It is divided into 3 geographic areas: the Levant, Mesopotamia (Syria, Iraq), and Persia (Iran). The collection's development corresponds to archaeological work such as Paul-Emile Botta's 1843 expedition to Khorsabad and the discovery of Sargon II's palace. These finds formed the basis of the Assyrian museum, the precursor to today's department. The museum contains exhibits from Sumer and the city of Akkad, with monuments such as the Prince of Lagash's Stele of the Vultures from 2,450 BC and the stele erected by Naram-Sin, King of Akkad, to celebrate a victory over barbarians in the Zagros Mountains. The Persian portion of Louvre contains work from the archaic period, like the Funerary Head and the Persian Archers of Darius I. This section also contains rare objects from Persepolis which were also lent to British Museum for its Ancient Persia exhibition in 2005.

I would like to end this entry by stating few facts about Paris that I get various website that you may find useful when visiting the city of lights. There are no less than 173 museums, 37 bridges, 31 monuments, 3 opera houses, 171 churches and temples, 208 theatres and cabarets, 20 covered passageways, 84 cinemas, 14 cemeteries, 108 Wallace fountains, 463 parks and gardens. A total of 276 monuments, hotels, churches, fountains, bridges and canals light up in Paris every night. You may get the best out of this beauty treatment for these magnificent structures with a magical tour of Paris starting with the Eiffel Tower, undisputed queen of the illuminations. Remaining photos are the last selected photos out of many that becoming my favorite from the Louvre.

This 1 brought tears to my eyes, how cruel is the war to the childrens

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