Thursday, February 10

The Louvre

We give the Grand Dame a full day. I am pained to acknowledge that despite my visits to Paris I have not been to the Louvre once though within walking distance of my hotel. In fact the last time I was here, I believe, 1989 when my family on a lay-over en route to Africa. I was so jet-lagged I could not see straight let alone contemplate the enormity of the museum - 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres.

My photo taken from the Egyptian collection on the fourth floor. In 1983, French President François Mitterrand proposed the Grand Louvre plan to renovate the building and relocate the Finance Ministry, allowing displays throughout the building. Architect I. M. Pei proposed the glass pyramid which stands over the new main entrance of the main court, the Cour Napoléon. The pyramid and its underground lobby inaugurated October 15, 1988. The second phase of the Grand Louvre plan, La Pyramide Inversée, was completed in 1993.

Sonnet and I focus on the Vermiers - two of his 26 existing paintings here - and the Italian Renaissance with extra attention to El Greco, Bertolucci, and da Vinci. I see the Mona Lisa which is now in a protective bullet proof casing and a guard rail of ten feet. The first time I saw her, in 1984, she was unprotected. During World War II, the painting was removed from the Louvre and taken safely, first to Château d'Amboise, then to the Loc-Dieu Abbey and Château de Chambord, then finally to the Ingres Museum in Montauban. And now there she is, 500 years after Leonardo painted her, looking at us strangely and us none the wiser.