Monday, January 12, 2009

I spent most of today at the Louvre, the first of what I assume will be many visits. I had visited on several previous occasions, none of late, but somehow the old museum seemed fresher than ever. Brighter, less crowded, nicer wooden floors, prettier wall colors . . just a fresh coat of paint across the board. Best way to enter is off Rue de Rivoli, where you can take an escalator to an underground mall proffering all things Louvre. You can also get a ticket from a credit card machine for immediate access.
This accomplishes two things: No waiting in line and you are not jolted by the Pei pyramid of glass which, to my eye, is oddly incongruous in such a palatial setting. Happily there were very few patrons about, which meant I had practically the run of the galleries of the 17th Dutch artists, which I visited first. Vermeer’s The Lacemaker is, like all Vermeer works, exquisite. So delicate and precious. His play with light is so masterful that it can just stop you in your tracks staring at the small oil. But the Louvre had only the one Vermeer on display, one more that most every other museum around to be sure, but a bit of a surprise to me. I luxuriated with the Dutch for a couple of hours, then exited, and headed up toward the Paris Opera for lunch. At some point it struck me—goodness I did not even think about the Mona Lisa. So I bounded back, past the Winged Victory and into the display room where I joined others, but not a huge crowd, for a look at the most famous painting in the world, hermetically sealed. I have to say that just down the hall are three Caravaggios which, for my money, are every bit as dazzling and really more to my liking. Part of the pleasure of enjoying art is the fun of quibbling about which of these masters is the best. ’Tis in the eye of the beholder, right? I stopped at a market on my walk home, picked up some food for a late supper, and settled in and prepared some mighty fine coq au vin. Read a bit, prepared the blog and lay my head down.

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