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Aleksandra Bzdzikot

PAINTING & ILLUSTRATION

 

23.03.2018

The Louvre off the beaten track - what to see beside the Mona Lisa?

Every day thousands of tourists  travel to Paris to see Mona Lisa at the Louvre among many other works of art.

In the beginning of March I made myself a birthday present and went to Paris for the weekend. Purpose? Art, naturally.

 

This was my first time at the Louvre and I knew that I needed a plan to organise the sightseeing and to know what artworks I want to see there.

The Louvre occupies three wings of a former royal palace. If you stretch out these wings into a straight line, the Louvre would run a whopping 14 kilometres!

It is so big. 80% of the visitors just come to take a photo of the Mona Lisa and then leave. But there is so much more to see.

 

 

 

If you don't want to wander aimlessly throught the maize of galleries at the Louvre you need a good plan. Frankly speaking, I didn't expect the Louvre to be so huge. I knew it's big but its dimensions and the number of artworks went far beyond my expectations. What do you need to know before visiting the Louvre? Let me share with you five practical tips that I checked on myself.

 

1. PRACTICAL TIPS

 

1. Buy a ticket in advance  - you can do it online and this will save you long waiting in a line to enter the museum.

2. Try to avoid going there on Saturdays and Sundays. On the weekend there is a biggest number of people and tourists visiting the museum. I went there on a Friday evening, from 6 pm until 9 pm. Still, there were crowds, but I believe not so big as on a Saturday.

3. Have a decent meal and a good coffee before :-) Be prepared to spend there at least 3 hours, which actually, pass by very quickly.

4. Put on comfy shoes. Forget about high heels. Walking around for at least three hours is quite a challenge, so better be comfortable.

5. As soon as you enter the museum take a map with the plan of the floors - it will make strolling around the museum much easier, as you will more or less know where are the artworks that you want to see.

 

 

2. WHAT TO SEE BESIDE THE MONA LISA?

 

The Louvre houses much more than just the Mona Lisa. When I was making my plans for Paris I knew that while visiting this museum I would go either for seeing the Mona Lisa or for seeing artworks from my 'bucket list'. I chose option number two. Yes, I know that for some of you being in the Louvre and not seeing the Mona Lisa by Leonardo is something odd and extraordinary. This was definitely not my last time in Paris, so I could say that I saved the Mona Lisa for later.

 

In the museum not only you can see paintings, but also vast selection of ancient sculptures and the decor of the royal chambers.

What was my selection for this memorable visit?

 

If you love and appreciate paintings you are in paradise. I decided to focus on a couple of paintings from my bucket list. They are less known than the usual masterpieces of the Louvre advertised on the internet and the articles on "Top 10 paintings you need to see at the Louvre".

So, here we go:

 

1. JOHANNES VERMEER VAN DELFT

 

 

Johannes Vermeer van Delft "The lacemaker"

 

Johannes Vermeer van Delft is the author of such artworks as "The girl with a pearl earring", "The astronomer" or the above "Lacemaker".

This artwork dates back to 1670 and portrayes a young lacemaker, peacefully focused on her work. The delicacy and intimacy of this painting is breathtaking. However, I was surprised to see that this painting is so small.

 

2. JEAN COUSIN LE PERE

 

Jean Cousin le Pere "Eva Prima Pandora"

 

This painting likens Eve, who, according to the Bible commited original sin, which is suggested by an apple branch on her right hand, to Pandora. Jean Cousin le Pere portrays Eve as the first Pandora, who according to the Greek mythology was a curious woman and opened the vase belonging to the Titan Epimetheus, thereby releasing evil into the world. I love the way Eve was portrayed at rest, with natural curves of the body and delicate features of the face. An interesting point to this painting is the landscape of a city in the background.

 

3. HIERONYMUS BOSCH

 

Hieronymus Bosch "The ship of fools"

 

This oil on panel dated at 1505-1510 is one of the most famous paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. I very much wanted to see Bosch in Madrid at Museo del Prado, but the long queue, lack of time and freezing weather prevented me from seeing his "Garden of earthly delights".

"The ship of fools" is a satire on human society. A motley crew surrenders to drunkenness and gluttony as their boat drifts.  I think Bosch was one of the first to portray a puking guy, which is visible to the right of the painting :-)

 

 

4. QUENTIN METSYS

 

Another unique painting  - "The moneylender and his wife" by Quentin Metsys. This painting shows the double portrait of a jeweller weighing gold and his wife, distracted from her pious reading and looking toward him. This is a genre scene as well as an allegory of the vanity of all earthy possessions. As the saying goes: "Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas".

 

 

An interesting fact - this Flemish painting was once owned by Rubens. What's even more interesting is the mirror at the bottom of the painting. The trick with putting a mirror with a reflection of a person in it serves as a new, additional opening, a new layer to the painting. The mirror uncovers a new world, which is behind the frames of the painting. This trick you can also find in a famous painting "The Arnolfini portrait" by Jan Van Eyck.

 

 

5. SALOMONE DE BRAY

 

The last painting on my bucket list was "The young woman combing her hair" by a Dutch painter Salomone de Bray. When I saw this lovely painting I was struck by the pose and the details of the hair. the light on the paintings makes this scene intimate and brings forth the beauty of a naked blonde woman. This painting is very similar in terms of the play of light and shadow to paintings of Rembrandt.

I found this piece unique and simply beautiful.

 

 

 

My first time at the Louvre was amazing, but also a bit tiring. My brain and my soul have seen so much beauty and inspiration there. I will definitely go again to see another portion of such splendid works, including the Mona Lisa, of course.

Paris is a breathtaking city with rich cultural options. Go there not only to try a freshly baked croissant but also to take a look and marvel at the artworks at the Louvre.

 

I hope you found this article stimulating.

Thanks for stopping by and do not hesitate to post a comment.

 

Aleksandra


Comments

27.03.2018 10:43:53

Przepiękny ! Nie miałam jeszcze okazji być! A w Paryżu byłam tylko jakoś się nie złożyło ... Pozdrawiam Weronika www.simplybeautiful.pl

24.03.2018 10:18:50

Dear Aleksandra, thanks a lot for the recommendations. I'm going to Paris in 2 weeks and will be happy to see some of the paintings described by you. All the best, Karl


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