Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Paris' Best #1: The Louvre (Richelieu)

 As will soon be evident from the number of photos I took, the Richelieu is probably my favorite area of the Louvre. This is because it contains a massive collection of French sculpture that I find extremely beautiful. And my favorite sculpture in the Louvre is Captifs by Martin van den Bogaert, aka Martin Desjardins (1637-1694).
 Apparently I am not the only one fascinated with Captifs, as it holds a prominent position for display. Here is a photo that shows you the relative scale of the piece.
 It took Martin 3 years to create this piece (1682-85). Four Captive Nations, as it is also known, represents early victories of the armies of Louis XIV over Spain, the Roman Empire, Brandenburg and Holland.
 It was originally gilt bronze and ornamented Martin's equestrian statue of Louis XIV at the Place des Victories in Paris. The equestrian statue was melted down during the Revolution, but these fantastic pieces have survived and moved to the Louvre, their gilding long since worn away. There is a marble workshop copy of the equestrian statue in the Orangerie at Versailles.
 While in most cases I would find the expressions shown to be overly dramatic, in this case they really work. The perfection of the proportions and even the weathering of the surface really make this the perfect piece to me.
 I did think to snap a photo of Captif's plaque. Here it is, so you can see what a typical artwork description looks like at the Louvre. Not easy to read if you can't read French.
 There are many extremely nice pieces of French sculpture at the Louvre, most of it in much better condition than the Greek, Roman and Egyptian sculptures. Makes sense, I guess, since the French pieces are normally hundreds if not thousands of years newer. This one is of Mercury.
 This is a bust of Georges Cuvier (1769-1832), born Georges Leopold Chretien Frederic Dagobert Cuvier, who was a major figure in science in Paris, instrumental in comparing living animals and fossils. He is known for establishing that extinction is a fact. This bust was created by Pierre-Jean David, aka David d'Angers. These Frenchmen and their aliases! You can call me Al.
 I probably snapped photos of 30 to 40% of the sculptures in this area, but will only show you a handful here. There is so much of everything that it overwhelmed me, really
 We also visited the French Sculpture section on the last trip but I liked it so much we went through it again this trip. My patient wife viewed most of it with me, then found a comfortable bench and let me get my fill of the area.
 This intriguing statue is called the Tomb of Philippe Pot. Not much is known about it except that it depicts eight nobles carrying a flagstone upon which is laid the body of Philippe Pot.
 Philippe was appointed governor of Burgundy by Louis XI. Here is another shot of it, showing the relative scale. It appears the creator of the piece wanted viewers to feel that they were participating in the procession - and it does that very successfully.
 Finally, here is an area of Richelieu that we did not visit last time: the Napoleon III Apartments. These photos do not come anywhere close to showing the full richness and beauty of these rooms - you are going to have to see it in person to get the full effect. But hopefully these photos will convince you to put this area high on your list of must-sees when you visit the Louvre.
 The crystal on this dressing table is eye-popping in person. This is another piece that is obviously a favorite, as it has been given it's own room. It is startling to walk around a corner and see this magnificent piece center stage, all alone, in a fair sized room.
 When the new Louvre was opened by Napoleon III, it had many elegant reception halls. The halls at Palais des Tuileries are long gone, but these rooms at the Ministry of State, created in 1861, have survived. The decor of gold, marble, bronze, silk and velvet are a feast for the eyes. Again, you must see it in person to get the full effect
 No flash photography was allowed in this room, so my old Olympus C-5060 could not handle it...the photo came out very poor. I borrowed this photo from elsewhere.
 This photo gives a true feel for the depth of color on the wall. However, it appears to be having a little trouble with the couches as I remember them being more red than purple. Maybe my memory is bad, I'm not sure.
 In any case, here is a smattering of other sculptures in Richelieu. If you are a sculpture nut like me, please peruse to your heart's content. If you're not, then breeze on by. Enjoy.

Photos in this post: Olympus C-5060

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