Posts Tagged ‘Louvre’

8:46 am

Louvre, Revisited

I went back to the Louvre last week, specifically to the see the Praxiteles exposition.

Praxiteles was a Greek sculptor from the 4th century BC. Virtually none of his work is known to have survived intact. Most of the bronze work was melted down, and the little that survives is corroded and fragmentary, while the work in marble has at the very least been chipped if not broken. As a result, most of what is known about Praxiteles’s sculptures comes from written accounts.

So, how do you put together an exposition for an artist who has no surviving, complete work?

  1. You display the fragmentary work, and
  2. You display the copies and pastiches of his work

So, there are multiple variations on, for example, the Aphrodite of Cnidus: Praxiteles is credited with being the first to sculpt female nudes. There are also variations on Apollo Sauroktonos (Apollo the Lizard Slayer: how’s that for an appellation to strike terror in the hearts of your enemies?) and the Leaning Satyr. In addition, the exhibit included several statues of a woman who may or may not have been Phryne, who may or may not have been Praxiteles’s lover.

I was a little disappointed by the exposition: the multiple variations on just a few prototypical pieces were redundant.

I also wandered around the rest of the Louvre, since I hadn’t seen everything my first visit (and still haven’t with this second visit). As usual, I mostly focused on sculpture. The last time there, I had missed Canova’s Cupid and Psyche:

I think I found my lion friend in the same room:

He’s particularly engaging in closeup, although the picture doesn’t do him justice:

I spent a couple of hours wandering around the Decorative Arts, which I very much enjoyed. I don’t know how I missed it before. And I visited the Islamic Art collection, which is the newest and not yet complete addition to the Louvre’s permanent collections. There were some lovely pieces, but it doesn’t really come together well yet.

Tourist season has not begun in full force yet, but even on a weekday afternoon, the crowds are starting to mount up:

The public buildings in Paris, such as churches and palaces, never cease to amaze me. I have enormous difficulty wrapping my brain around constructing places on such a grand scale. The only thing comparable we have in the States are shopping malls. And will people still be going to, say, the Mall of America in a few hundred years? (Oh, Lordy: I hope not!)

1:46 pm


Well, there’s no point in living in Paris if you’re not going to go see the sights. So, last week, I went out to visit the Louvre. On my way there, I made a detour to see Sainte-Chapelle, which I had never seen before.

The palais de la Cité, where the chapel is located, is now the home for the Paris law courts, so you have to go through security, complete with x-raying bags, to get in to the chapel. They’re doing some renovation, so the exterior is swathed with scaffolding, and the lower chapel is cluttered with tools and drop clothes and the like. (As an aside, I really think they should discount admission when work is going on.) Even without the clutter, the lower chapel, while nice enough, was nothing all that impressive.

The upper chapel, on the other hand, was utterly exquisite. The upper walls are nearly entirely paneled in stained glass in vibrant reds and blues. On a sunny day, it must be dazzling. As it is, I was enthralled.

Rose Window, upper chapel at Sainte-Chapelle

My next stop was the Louvre. (The last time I had been was before I.M. Pei’s pyramids had been completed.) The immensity of the Louvre still takes my breath away. Try as I might, I simply can not imagine people actually living there: everything is on simply too grand a scale.

I wandered about for a couple of hours, and probably covered less than a quarter of the total museum. But then, I’m not much of a fan of painting, and I was mostly interested in the sculptures and antiquities. Especially my favorite: the Winged Victory:

Winged Victory

There is, by the by, a Starbucks in the Louvre. This is just so wrong. Come to think of it, I can’t recall having seen any other Starbucks in Paris (not yet anyway).

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