Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Paris Day Five: The Louvre and Orsay Museums

We crammed a lot into our last day in Paris. First, we hit the Louvre and Orsay museums. FYI: there are some photos of a topless female statue.

"The Musee du Louvre, containing one of the most important art collections in the world, has a history extending back to medieval times. First constructed as a fortress in 1190 by King Philippe-Auguste to protect Pairs against Viking raids, it lost its imposing keep in the reign of Francois I, who replaced it with a Renaissance-style building. Thereafter, four centuries of French kings and emperors improved and enlarged it... With five floors and over 100 rooms, this museum offers an eclectic display of ornamental art and design from the Middle Ages to the present." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris, pages 122 and 130.)
The Arc de Triomphe du Carousel "...was built to celebrate Napoleon's victories in 1805." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris, page 123.)
The pyramid (designed by I M Pei, a Chinese-American) was added in 1989 and is now the main entrance to the Louvre.
This is looking up from inside the entrance.
As you probably know, the two most famous pieces of art in the Louvre are Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. I photographed both, but flashes were prohibited and the museum was very crowded, so it was nearly impossible to take good photos. If you haven't seen either piece, just google their names and you'll find a treasure trove of photographs.

"Leonardo da Vinci painted this small portrait of a Florentine noblewoman, known as La Gioconda, in about 1504. It was soon regarded as the prototype of the Renaissance portrait. The sitter's engaging smile has prompted endless commentary ever since. The painting has its own wall in the Salle des Etats (Denon Wing)." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris, page 125.) I was surprised at the small dimensions and simple presentation of this painting. I guess that after hearing and reading about this painting for my entire life, I expected it to be larger and displayed in a more grandiose fashion.
Here's an interesting side note: "Leonardo, artist, engineer, and scientist, was born in 1452 and became a leading figure in the Italian Renaissance. Francois I met Leonardo in 1515 and invited him to live and work in France. The painter brought the Mona Lisa with him. Already in poor health, he died three years later in the arms of the king." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris, page 127.)
I'm sure that you recognize the Venus de Milo. "Found in 1820 on the island of Milos in Greece, this ideal of feminine beauty was made in the Hellenistic Age at the end of the 2nd century BC." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Paris, page 124.)
Here are some of my favorite pieces. 
Emma, of course, loved this lion.
Then she decided to be a statue, ha ha!
This is the same arch you saw at the top of this post.
We spent the entire morning at the Louvre but only saw a very small portion of it. I could literally spend a week in there. I love to stop and read every sign for every piece of art. The fact that the signs are written in French meant I couldn't read anything. Hopefully, I will understand enough French by next summer to read the signs.

I shot these as we strolled through the adjacent park. I loved the carousel!
We crossed over the Seine
and walked to the Musee d'Orsay, a much smaller museum.
Photos were forbidden in Musee d'Orsay except for in this window inside the clock tower. The view was spectacular! If you look closely, you can see the carousel that is outside the Louvre.
Here are my peeps waiting along the Seine to catch a Batobus.
Here are two of my favorite peeps, Brennan and Emma.
Not much blah, blah, blahing today, huh? Lucky you! I'll be back tomorrow with my final post about our trip. After that, it'll be back to real life stuff.

Hope you enjoyed the long weekend!

1 comment:

Christy Lynn said...

You saw the Athena statue who let her little sister do her lipstick, lol! We spent most of our time at the Louvre in the Greco-Roman statuary rather than the paintings (other than Ms. Lisa) so you saw a lot of paintings we didn't see. I think I'm the only person who ever saw the Mona Lisa and said it was bigger than I expected...I read all over about how small it is and blah blah blah so hey, when we got there and it was bigger than a postage stamp I was like, hey it's bigger than I thought it would be! :)

We didn't go to the Musee d'Orsay at all; I think we took it a little easier in Paris than you guys did :) We spent a lot of time lounging in parks!

In the Louvre, did you go down to the area where you can see the foundations of the 15th century palace? I was excited I retained enough French to read the sign that archaeologists were happy when they excavated around the foundations where the old moat was. People used to throw their trash into the moat and now it's a treasure trove of everyday items from the 1400s. Guess if it's old enough, it goes from being trash to being treasure!