|The glass pyramid at the Louvre|
The last time I was in the City of Lights was when the glass pyramid was being built at the Louvre in the mid 1980s.
It was definitely time for an update.
|Venus de Milo|
That meant we spent about half an hour in the revered museum -- where we of course saw the Mona Lisa, the headless Winged Victory of Samothrace and perhaps the large paintings by Eugene Delacoix, such as Liberty Leading the People and Theodore Gericault's Raft of Medusa.
So this time I had no specific deadlines and hoped that I could see as much as possible without my eyes blurring over and overall I think I did a pretty good job.
However the layout of the Louvre can be confusing and at times I felt like I was in a maze and could not get out; sometimes back tracking was the only way to do this as some gallery sections were closed.
I arrived relatively early and since I came from the metro, I was able to buy an admission ticket from downstairs and walk in right away. So to beat the crowds outside -- well sort off -- I headed off to see La Jaconda or Mona Lisa.
The signs pointing to Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece were very clear and within minutes I was in the room with many other people crowding around this small painting behind bullet-proof glass.
|Detail of Josephine and Napoleon with their Chaumet crowns|
On the same first floor, I also managed to see The Winged Victor of Samothrace again as well as Delacroix and Gericault's works as well as the massive painting called The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I by Jean-Louis David.
It's a dramatic and highly detailed work, portraying Napoleon starting a new kind of royalty. In it, the crowns were created especially for the French power couple by the French jewellery house Chaumet. That commission led the company to become the official jeweller to Napoleon and needless to say Chaumet continues to market its connection with the diminutive leader to this day. Pedigree is a selling point.
|19th century Congolese sculpture of a bull|
I also saw the new wing dedicated to the arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. My favourite piece was that of bull from the 19th century from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The simple lines and the beautiful wood makes it so simple, refreshing and modern.
And I was also pleased to see some pieces from Canada, including a pillar made of cedar from the Kwakiatul nation and a mask of a bird from the Tsimshian.
Up on the second floor there were many Dutch paintings, such as The Virgin of Chancellor Rolin by Jan van Eyck, but also an interesting comparison of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres' works.
|CY Twombly's The Ceiling adds modernity to antiquities|
Some artists really do recycle their ideas.
It was interesting going up to Napoleon III's apartments up a flight of wooden stairs into a series of rooms oozing with opulence that was completely over the top. There were enormous chandeliers dripping with crystal pieces, lavish velvet couches furniture, doors lined with gold, and rich thick silk brocade curtains.
However amongst all this ostentatious furniture were curious pieces mixed in, such as Deux Bacchantes (Clockwise) in one of the hallways. It looked like two silver nymphs dancing together, but their faces and figures are warped as if they were stretched and twisted.
|Two literally twisted figures by Wim Delvoye|
And then I noticed some other things that stood out.
One of them is a fantastic ceiling in one of the Greek antiquities room painted by CY Twombly who died last year. Called The Ceiling, it features a number of yellow and almost black spheres floating around a blue sky, with some ancient Greek writing. The work was painted on canvas and then mounted on the ceiling, perhaps one of his last few works as it was completed in 2009.
And then I found this painting very amusing. Done by Jean-Simeon Chardin in 1779, it shows a monkey dressed up holding a brush and sitting by a canvas with brush in hand. This one called The Monkey Painter perhaps made fun of other artists who paint their own self portraits in a similar setting.
|The Monkey Painter by Jean-Simeon Chardin|