Thursday, June 13, 2013

Paris museums 2 -- Louvre

So here we are at the Louvre, getting a bit antsy, and we still haven't seen anything.  We decided to skip the Mona Lisa and head for the Vermeers and Rembrandts, which were at the far end of the other building, away from the "Must See" six pack.

We thought this remote area would be less crowded.  And in fact it was -- that wing was closed, which we discovered only after hiking through dozens of galleries.  Even the museum attendants didn't seem to know why it was closed or for how long.

I did see some things I liked on the way.  Check out this lovely painting from 15th Century Provence.

Notice how the priests are speaking, while the breath of the Holy Spirit passes between Jesus and the Father.

I've always liked the tradition of painting church interiors, done most frequently in the low countries.  Here are two by the same guy (although his name is spelled differently on the two signs), perhaps of the same church?

Hendrik van Steenwijck, Church Interior with a Sacristan, 1608

Hendrick van Steenwyck; Church Interior, Night; c. 1610-20

I feel immense guilt over my reaction to the Louvre.  I know it's the greatest museum in the world, but it stops at 1848, just about when I think art starts getting interesting.  Perhaps because I never had a basic art history course, I don't have much appreciation for the subtleties of when perspective was invented or how the Renaissance harkened back to classical art.  And I really don't like huge crowds.

So I decided to ditch the Louvre and head for the Pompidou.  My next trip to Paris, if I am so lucky, will be in the winter and maybe I'll give the old masters another try in less frantic conditions, with a better guidebook.  But not this time.


  1. i did the louvre two times on different trips.... i don't have to go back ever again. i went to paris with my mother and dropped her off at the louvre and went shopping. LOL. i do like the d'orsay much better just because i like the time period it covers much better. and yes, the museums are much better after tourist season. the last time i was in paris was in november and it was WAY more manageable.

    1. I loved the d'Orsay too but they prohibit photography so I don't know whether I'll write about it in the blog. Nothing quite so dull as talking about art without showing pictures.

  2. At least they are open. When we went, we got to see the Louvre and little else. All other museums were closed due to strikes that week. No Cluny, no Pompidou (though we were staying nearby) and no d'Orsay. I was HUGELY disappointed. Definitely a good excuse to go again.

  3. When I was at the d'Orsay a few years ago photos were allowed. Actually I was surprised about the lack of security and that they allowed photography.

  4. There are so many smaller museums in Paris, all with things worth seeing - surprising things - for example, Proust's bedroom at the City Museum, incredible oriental art at the Guimet. I stumbled on an exhibition of Alechinsky (who he?) at the Maritime Museum quite a few years ago... And those smaller museums often have a good cafe (ceiling paintings in the tearoom at Jaqumart-Andre). Though possibly in tourist season, everything is crowded?