Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bonus Louvre photos

Punters queueing to get into the Louvre on a cold and wet Parisian Sunday. The glass pyramids were constructed in 1989 from a design by a Vietnamese architect, IM Pei. Just inside is an airport-style bag scanner, and a large elevator leading down into the main entrance hall. The old building in the background is one of the three wings of the museum - the Denon - which enclose the pyramid inside an ornate and statued courtyard.

Grant and Lan struggle to take in the opulent scale of the Galerie Médicis - a single room containing over twenty mammoth canvases by Rubens. Each commissioned by Queen Marie de Médicis, they picture her being blessed by angels, moving armies of men to tears with her beauty, and receiving showers of gold from the heavens. She ruled France from 1605 to 1617, and was the mother of Louis XIII - who eventually overthrew the Italian nobles that were 'advising' her. She was twice sent into exile, and twice escaped, leading a revolt against her son before dying in Germany. I'm surprised Rubens stopped at two dozen.

An overhead view of a selection of marble statues - the Louvre has one of the largest collections of Roman and Greek statues in the world. It's a pity many people rush past them on the way to the famous individual paintings, but they are rather samey. When you've seen one stone Italian nakedly pointing at something, you've seen them all.

I had no idea the Louvre had stuff like this in it too - an incredibly detailed bone knife from one of the early Middle-Eastern civilisations. The handle is carved into a hippo tooth, which must have taken some extracting. The depictions are some kind of story, possibly involving Hippo dentistry.

Photo time in the Egyptian Gallery. There are roomfuls of mummies and sarcophaguses (sarcophagi?) in the Museum, some of which must weigh an incredible amount. The first time I ever went to Edinburgh was on a school trip to see a Pharoah exhibition, when I was about ten. You couldn't take pictures inside, so we stood in the street taking photos of the guidebook. Because of the old disc camera I had, the lens and viewfinder were inches apart, and I ended up with blurry photos of the pavement.

Japanese tourists rush past the Venus de Milo, trying to not get in the way of the picture. I've seen Michaelangelo's David in Florence, and the Venus de Milo is probably the other truly famous marble statue people eulogise over. It's impressive, too. She does have a rather blank expression on her face though, as if she's wondering where she put her arms.