It’s astounding, baffling, how one can see an image millions of times but not truly absorb it.
The Mona Lisa. I know you can picture it clearly in your mind, but it is so much more than an iconic painting. It is daVinci’s masterpiece (if a bit smaller than you’ve likely imagined). It is correct in every way—smooth brush strokes hardly visible to one standing a few feet away from it.
A picture can speak a thousand words, or so they say, but why won’t anyone tell us what her smile means? She must be awfully patient to sit there for however long, holding that smile.
Da Vinci created the painting over 500 years ago in Florence, Italy. It remains priceless and, despite a few tiny chips in the paint, perfect.
The Venus de Milo. Armless, pupil-less, precise in detail. The sculpture dates back to around 120 BC, first discovered by a peasant in the 1820s within the ruins of an ancient city. There’s a bit of speculation about who truly constructed her, but it’s been such a long while, how can we be sure she didn’t walk into town one day, all sleek white marble proclaiming “I’m here!” Truth be told, she’s lasted a long time, and a lot has happened since then. I know you’ve seen it before, but there’s something about seeing an art piece so three-dimensional and grand, so old and new-looking, that it makes you wonder: “Am I here right now?”
While these are the main attractions of the Louvre, I’d also like to take the time to appreciate some of the less-famous (but still incredible) pieces of art. When we visited the museum, we walked in and out of rooms lined with medieval paintings. I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I would have liked, but here’s an example of one I found particularly striking, with its colors and detail.
The ceilings of the Louvre, (as well as its not-quite-as-famous paintings) are especially underrated. As you go through the museum, you’ll find the ceilings get more and more spectacular. More often than not, they have a domed shape with painted images and shining gold sculptures that can truly only be appreciated from many feet below. (I didn’t get a picture of these either. Just take my word for it.)
All in all, the Louvre, in and of itself, is its own living, thriving art piece. Today, its halls are filled with tourists, all excited to see the centuries-old paintings it has to offer. Once upon a time, it functioned as a fortress under Phillip II, and today it still stands, bringing thousands of people joy and emotion each day. I encourage you to pay the Louvre a visit if you find yourself in the Paris area. But make sure to take your time.
Art is best enjoyed slowly.