Saturday, October 27, 2012

Paris - Day Two

Links to all posts in this series:
Paris - Day One
Paris - Day Two
Paris - Day Three, Part One
Paris - Day Three, Part Two
Paris - Day Four
Paris - Day Five, Part One
Paris - Day Five, Part Two

Most of our second day in Paris was spent touring the Louvre. This museum certainly deserves its reputation. It's huge and filled to the brim with amazing art and artifacts from around the world.

I'll open with some exterior views. This is a view of the famous pyramid from the balcony on which we ate lunch.

This is an arch that stands on the grounds leading to the sculpture garden. We walked through the garden, but didn't really get to look at the many sculptures scattered throughout that space. Basically, the several times we walked through the garden we were on our way to someplace else (for example, the Eiffel Tower).

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat. This is a look from inside the pyramid to the grounds outside. So, it's sort of an interior-exterior shot (if there is such a thing).

Now that we've gotten inside, I'll start with some of the many sculptures we saw. I guess, strictly speaking, these next few are busts rather than full-body sculptures. I especially like the way the third one was set beside two mirrors, which allows a viewer to see the bust from three different angles at once.

This is one of many Madonna and Child sculptures we saw in the Louvre and other museums around town.

And this is one of several pietas we saw. It's not quite as moving, in my opinion, as Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica, but it's worth noting.

These next two are Michelangelo's Slaves. The first is known as the Rebellious Slave, the second as the Dying Slave. When viewed in person, one can really pay attention to the distinct body postures in each.

The following are a few Classical sculptures.

This is Winged Victory, which dates to the second century BC. It's not intact, but it's pretty impressive nonetheless.

These are from the museum's extensive Egyptian and Mesopotamian collections. Unfortunately, Dave and I didn't have time to see very much of that collection. Maybe on our next visit...

Now, I'll move on to some paintings. Again, we saw just a minuscule portion of the artwork on display. Obviously, only a barbarian would fail to see the Mona Lisa while visiting the Louvre. I've heard/read accounts of people being disappointed that this painting is smaller than they expected it to be. It doesn't dominate a wall or a room, but it's really not a bad size for a portrait.

The dog lover in me couldn't resist this one:

This is one of my favorites. I love the affectionate expressions on the mother and child's faces.

This is St. Sebastian, an early Christian martyr who apparently was a favorite subject for many artists. Needless to say, we saw quite a few St. Sebastians on our trip.

 This is Veronese's Wedding at Cana, the largest painting in the Louvre; it fills a large wall.

The musician in me couldn't resist this one:

Nor could I resist this one depicting an opera house's interior.

I like this one because it's intended to be a behind-the-scenes look at the Louvre.

I have to include at least one painting of Napoleon. His presence looms large throughout the Louvre and Paris.

You may remember this from your history textbooks, Liberty Leading the People. This is another very large painting.

This is another large canvas that was created as political propoganda. It depicts Napoleon paying a sympathetic visit to lepers, and even being so kindhearted as to reach out and touch one of them. This was meant to counteract accusations that he was ruthless.

We eventually got hungry and intended to go to a food court for lunch. As we wandered down a museum hallway, however, we came across a small cafe with a balcony overlooking the courtyard. Needless to say, that's where we chose to dine.

The museum houses the French Crown Jewels, of which this is just one example; the modest room in which it lives is shown below.

The museum also holds many fine pieces of china and other handcraft-type items:

In addition to the formal artwork on display, the walls, ceilings, pillars, stairways and other mundane objects are often as artistic as the featured displays.

Although it may not seem like it, there were several buildings into which we never set foot. We spent another half day at the Louvre, but you'll see more about that in a later post. For now, we've come to the end of our second day in Paris. We decided we had to enjoy at least one meal in a proper Paris cafe. This is Dave sitting at our table after we had finished our meal and were just enjoying lounging outdoors on a gloriously mild evening.

After a short walk back to our hotel, we turned in for the night and, not surprisingly, slept soundly as we dreamed of the highlights of our third day's itinerary: Notre Dame, the Cluny Museum and the Pantheon. Come back later for a post (or two) about those sites.

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