June 3, 2015
It’s no secret that I don’t like crowds. Really don’t like crowds. I mean, slighly agoraphobic, out of breath, my brain starts scream, I hate crowds. But I really wanted to see the Louvre and the “Big Three” – Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and the Venus de Milo. After visiting the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe earlier in the day I went back to the apartment and waited until evening to make my move because on Wednesday and Friday evenings the Louve is open until 945pm.
I also planned on using one of the “secret entrances” to the Louvre to skip the long security lines at I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid. If you go to 99 Rue Rivoli, head through the glass doors of the “Carrousel du Louvre” and take the escalator down you’ll find yourself in an underground shopping mall, but don’t panic. Follow the signs for the Louvre, breeze through the non-existent line at security and then all you have to do is buy a ticket and you’re in!
With a mission in mind I headed straight for Mona Lisa as I was expecting her to be the most difficult to see. It’s quite a hike through the Denon wing, but well marked with signs and you can always follow the crowd.
And then there she was. A small crowd around her, but nothing panic inducing. A lot of people say they are disappointed when they finally see her in person, but I didn’t really get that. It’s a small painting, not very vibrant but she just has that indescribable something that have made people need to have her. She’s so calm, so composed and her eyes tell nothing.
She’s 8ft tall, marble and missing a head but she’s absolutely breathtaking. Thought to have been created around 200–190 BC the statue was to not only honor the goddess, Nike, but to honor a victorious sea battle. Though her arms have never been recovered it’s thought her right arm was raised to her mouth to deliver the shout of “Victory” and I would love to be able to see the expression on her face.
Down a little way is the Venus de Milo, created sometime between 130 and 100 BC. The statue is believed to depict Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty and as with the Winged Victory her arms have been lost to time though some believed she may have been holding an apple in one hand, similar to this statue that was just a little ways down.
Last, but not least, I wanted to share my favourite painting I saw while at the Louvre. It was tucked in a small dead end room, but made me do a double take when I first walked by.It is Magdalena Bay by Auguste François Biard, painted in 1840. Possibly inspired by his own experience in a scientific expedition to the Arctic, the painting depicts the aurora borealis from a bay on the Arctic island of Spitzbergen. In the foreground are five figures, presumably explorers, who are either dying or dead. I love it. And the Louvre.