When we spend the week-end in Paris, sometimes we go to the Opera on Sunday afternoon. Otherwise, we take long walks around because Paris is made of so many different small areas that there is always something new to discover.
We may also decide to go to a temporary art exhibit, so many of them that it’s hard to choose.
But today, we made up our mind that we had to go to the Louvre. It had been ages... and since in less than one year, we had been twice to Madrid to go to the Prado and Reina Sofia, we felt a little bit silly not to care this much about the Louvre!
So the Louvre it was... There were many things I wanted to see again but since the Louvre has expanded so much, we guessed it would take a few Sundays to go from one center of interest to the other one and then go through the entire museum.
We were so right. Especially since the Louvre was overcrowded. Good thing because while you could hear many foreign languages spoken, there were a lot of «natives» there, with children and babies... Which means that art is no longer elitist. Or maybe, a Sunday trip to the Louvre has become really trendy! Who knows!
No phones ringing for a change but a lot of children running around. A lot of people taking pictures using a flash, (an awful thing to do to paintings) Maybe I sound a little bit harsh on that subject especially since there are worse things (I got really mad at a woman who was patting a Persian stele) which explains why every five minutes or so an alarm sets off! But you get used to it!
There are small posters in every room: no flash, no touching, no phones, no eating (?)... but they are not very obvious.
O.k. I’ll stop being negative. The Louvre is a very amazing place especially when you think it represents only a very small part of France’s art treasures, even in Paris.
I wanted to see their Spanish painting collection... Alas, the Louvre is very, very poor in this field... What did I expect after going so many times to the Prado? When in France... Well, there were a couple of very wonderful El Greco... Other than that... Oh my god, I am becoming a real snob!
By the way, for those of you who will go one day to the Louvre, there are two amazing Boticelli frescoes that people usually miss. They’ve been at the same place for at least 50 years... I remember looking at them when I was a kid, wishing to turn out like one of those beautiful maiden... Well it didn’t happen but that’s ok.
So you go up to The Samothrace Victory. You can’t miss it... It still hasn’t got her arms nor her head back but that’s allright. She’s quite impressive this way. Watch out, you may get tramped to death there... Same thing, if you try to get to see Mona Lisa... Museums can be dangerous at times.
Ok, sorry, I probably got you lost there. So you’re right in front of this formidable winged disabled victory emblem. Right there, you turn right and please, please, look out on your left, because they are hiding in a recess, there they are... My Boticelli girls! One of them is getting married but they are such a symbol of feminity, beauty and grace!
Today, after I tore myself away from them or was torn away by my better half (oh yes?), my beloved husband suggested we’d «go down to Egypt». (Sounds like Moses, doesn’t it?)
It was quite suitable since it didn’t involve getting on a plane... Instead, we walked and walked... went past zillions of greek and roman statues... and got down or up to the Egyptian department.
I still remember the night we had been invited to the reopening of this wing a long time ago. We have gone back there many times since. I’ve always loved the Egyptian history and legends and gods and Pharaohs.
I still dream about going to the Pyramids but I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed because you see, I like very much those small lifelike statues caught in their daily life, so human, so close to me, talking to me throughout so many centuries. The real heart and life of those huge and appalling tombs.
And I’m fascinated by the attractiveness of the bas-reliefs, the sarcophaguses (I would have written «sarcophagi»), the jewelry. It is a world so filled with beauty that somehow you tend to forget the humble and hard-working slaves who gave their lives for this beauty. Except that they are still here, so handsome, fresh out from the graves.
I remember reading recently an article by Zahi Hawass who is the head of Egyptian Antiquities in Egypt. He sounded quite upset about France (and other European countries) robbing Egyptian antiquities for centuries... Maybe we didn’t exactly rob them, maybe at the time, it was simply a matter of «protecting» them in a colonial way... But I have to admit that our Egyptian exhibits are huge, incredibly huge (and they are probably only a small part of a much bigger collection down in the museum reserves).
Of course, they are perfectly preserved, perfectly exhibited. But it is so true they belong to Egypt and the World cultural heritage. They definitely do not belong to our history. Even if Champollion discovered how to translate and read hieroglyphs which opened the way to comprehending fully the Egyptian civilization.
(By the way, besides small museums all over France, our national Archeology museum is in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, very close to Paris, in one of the royal palaces from medieval times till the XVIIth century. Interesting, of course. But not as fascinating as the Egyptian artefacts, at least for me.)
Well, we were very happy about our day. (Going from one Egyptian room to another one - downstairs and upstairs and downstairs and upstairs kept us busy all afternoon long.)
What a chance to spend part of the day enjoying fully a trip through Egyptian history, culture and civilization, then getting back to our son’s appartment after buying a few excellent cakes, settling down on the sofa with a glass of mango juice and sighing with pure happiness... with our cat purring his heart out, close to us.
I know I’ll sound awful and I’m very sorry, Dr. Zahi Hawass: Thank you so much to all of you, archeologists and grave robbers and art dealers and crazy collectors and generous patrons of the arts and most of all to the Egyptian people. We spent a fabulous afternoon in ancient Egypt today.
°Of course, all the pictures are copyrighted and none of them was taken using a flash!
*Good Night, and Good Luck*