We visited The Louvre in May 2003

The Louvre is famous for the glass pyramid entrance  

Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco Giocondo

The history of the Mona Lisa is shrouded in mystery. Among the aspects which remain unclear are the exact identity of the sitter, who commissioned the portrait, how long Leonardo worked on the painting, how long he kept it, and how it came to be in the French royal collection.
The portrait may have been painted to mark one of two events - either when Francesco del Giocondo and his wife bought their own house in 1503, or when their second son, Andrea, was born in December 1502 after the death of a daughter in 1499. The delicate dark veil that covers Mona Lisa's hair is sometimes considered a mourning veil. In fact, such veils were commonly worn as a mark of virtue. Her clothing is unremarkable. Neither the yellow sleeves of her gown, nor her pleated gown, nor the scarf delicately draped round her shoulders are signs of aristocratic status.

We got to the Mona Lisa without crowds..............  
There’s nothing more frustrating than studying Greek art, given that the originals are so few and far between and are never seen in their original state. Could you imagine this statue with arms, and adorned with jewelry and color? The Venus de Milo, or Aphrodite of Melos (named after the Greek island on which it was discovered in 1820), is one of these magnificent originals. Her naked torso enabled her to be identified as Aphrodite, the Roman Venus, goddess of love and beauty, born out of the foam of the sea. And with her, Greek art gave birth to all Western art’s female nudes. Certain stylistic details indicate a dating of around 100 BC. Her elongated silhouette, position in space, and very sensual, realistic nudity link this work to the Hellenistic period (323–31 BC), the last great era in Greek history. Her neutral, impassive face, however, forms a stark contrast, rather like a mask that has been added on. Timeless and emotionless, it is comprised of a play on proportions: it is three times as long as the nose, which is a continuation of the forehead in this “Greek profile” — which the Greeks, of course, did not actually have! What the sculptor was seeking to depict was divine beauty, that of Plato’s ideals, not worldly reality. This image “that expresses beauty in a language which is always our own” (Alain Pasquier) provides a fine answer to the eternal quest for Beauty; in short, it is a timeless masterpiece.
Venus de Milo  


Winged Victory of Samothrace

The winged goddess of Victory standing on the prow of a ship overlooked the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on the island of Samothrace. This monument was probably an ex-voto offered by the people of Rhodes in commemoration of a naval victory in the early second century BC. The theatrical stance, vigorous movement, and billowing drapery of this Hellenistic sculpture are combined with references to the Classical period-prefiguring the baroque aestheticism of the Pergamene sculptors.


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