The Louvre: Home to Mona Lisa

October 9, 2012

Day 24

 

You will not believe how many people lined up early to go to the Louvre. I also swear that majority of the tourists lining up for tickets are Chinese tour groups. 

 

That's okay. We did our part and we were able to get tickets. At the centre lobby, you can see famous architect, Leoh Ming Pei's, upside-down pyramid - La Pyramide Inversee. For those who watched the Da Vinci Code, apparently this is the location of the Holy grail.

 The Louvre is not all about Mona Lisa. There are many other famous modern art paintings that deserve our attention. However, as a commoner to art, I too shall witness the elegance of this famous painting.

 

 To be honest, what I witnessed wasn't the elegance of the painting. Besides of the surprising fact that the Mona Lisa painting is actually quite small, I was more surprised to see the number of people surrounding this painting. It was a disaster. Taking pictures of the painting without anyone else was deemed an impossible task. People were also very rude and pushed each other just to see a glimpse of the painting. 

 

I never had the chance to truly admire the painting because the surrounding people killed the mood!

 Instead, I was more impressed by this painting - The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese.

 I shall show you some of the more famous and iconic art. For those who study art, I'm sure you have seen some of the artwork featured in your art textbooks.

 

Winged Victory of Samothrace.

 The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault.

 Roger Delivrant Angelique by Jean-Auguste-Dominique-Ingres.

 Vegatble heads by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. I definitely remember seeing these paintings in Toronto.

 A creepy picture at the Louvre.

 Venus de Milo - one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture.

 The Lacemaker by Vermeer.

 

Speaking of Johannes Vermeer, here is a very interesting story. Vermeer is a Dutch painter with little acknowledgement in his lifetime. Most of his works feature domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. In his lifetime, he didn't produce many paintings, therefore no one truly knew about his existence.

 

Now fast forward 300 years later, another Dutch painter known as Han Van Meegeren was an average painter. He was very skillful at copying other painters' style, but his own painting never picked up steam. By taking advantage of his skills, he began to forge paintings of little known painters, because people would not be able to recognize them. He chose Vermeer and began to practise and master Vermeer's style of art. He was so successful that he began producing "Vermeer's paintings" and sold to antique buyers for high price, claiming that these were one of a kind. Since Vermeer's painting was not well-known, no one could really validate its authenticity. It was estimated that Meegern made thirty million dollars in today's money just by forging Vermeer's painting. 

 

Anyway, this scheme got out of hand when wealthy Dutchmen tried to sell "Vermeer's paintings" to the Nazi Party during World War II in order to bribe the officials. When the war was over, the Dutch government arrested these wealthy Dutchmen and Meegern for selling Dutch cultural property to the Nazis. This would be an act of treason, and the punishment for it was death. Fearful of his death, Meegeren confessed in the courts that he forged all the paintings. Obviously, no one believed him. In order to prove to the court, he immediately produced a painting in front of the judges in a highly publicized trial. After that, the judges and experts believed him and he was only convicted with fraud charges and sentenced to prison for only one year.

 

Nowadays, people couldn't really tell if existing Vermeer's paintings were really Meegeren's or Vermeers.  

 The Astronomer by Vermeer.

After our visit to the Louvre, we went to visit two of Paris' iconic landmarks: The Arc du Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 25

 

We spent most of the day touring a nearby palace called the Palace of Versailles, as some of you may know, this is where the Treaty of Versailles is signed.

 

This was also the home of Louis XIV, where construction took place because he was jealous of one of the governor's home. This was also the place where hydraulic technology is utilized in order to sync the water fountains.

 

This is a very impressive Palace and probably even better than the two that I have seen. This is also where the movie "Marie Antoinette" is filmed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Who is Henry Shew?

Henry is an avid traveler and a tax consultant by profession.

 

Walk In My Shew is started to document the travel stories and culture experienced in different countries.

 

Contact me: walkinmyshew@gmail.com

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