Chelsea Flower Show
Paris and London
2003

Louvre, Place Vendome, Place de la Concorde...

 

Friday morning I set off to visit the Louvre. I had been last year, but this year spent more time there and had certain items I wanted to see and photograph. The Louvre is a treasure trove of exquisite sculpture, artwork and antiquities and you really must pick an area that you really want to see, then see it first and go on to others. This year I wanted to see …

The Victore de Samothrace, 190 BC, artist unknown – a stately staircase leads you to this most beautiful statue. This together with the Mona Lisa is perhaps the most important works at the Louvre. With her wings spread, tunic flattened by the spray, you can almost hear the wind blowing at the tunic. It used to sit on a rocky terrace overhanging the Aegean sea.

 


The Joconda, portrait of Mona Lisa, 1503-1507, Leonardo da Vinci. The artist spent many years painting this portrait, reworking it endlessly to achieve the degree of perfection he wanted. He was never parted from it and took it with him on all his travels…but who was she? Some say she was Lisa Gherardini, daughter of a rich family of merchants who married Francesco del Giocondon in 1495. When da Vinci painted this portrait, she was in mourning for her baby daughter. To lift her spirits da Vinci brought in musicians and clowns. Their antics brought a slight smile to her lips, a smile of ‘undefinable sadness and great gentleness’ and that is what you see today.

This painting must be seen in person to be appreciated. I have taken her picture on a slight angle so the glare does not hit the glass case that she is in.

Aphrodite called the Venus of Milo, 100 BC. The goddess of love.

The three pictures with the arched ceiling and checkered floor are the most beautiful room in all the Louvre, known as the Salle des Caryatides. It was designed for King Henri II, 1547-1559.

There are many other pictures here that I have taken at the Louvre, I am just mentioning ones that stood out for me, and if I mentioned them all, you would be reading forever!

Two beautiful paintings of Napoleon, including his coronation. The artist, Jacques Louis David took three years to paint this. I left the people there so you could see just how large this painting is.

The two photographs of the chandeliers are from the Grand Salon and were part of Napoleon III’s apartments.
 

We are now outside and I am looking at the Place Vendome, a beautiful square with its column standing 145 feet high in honour of Napoleon I. Around its shaft is a spiral series of bas-reliefs cast from the 1200 canons captured at Austerlitz. Place Vendome also lists very important residences. Chopin died in number 12 in 1849, the future wife of Napoleon III also loved there and of course The Hotel Ritz is at number 15 (four white awnings). I gathered up my nerve and went inside this hotel, only to be stopped and asked if I could be helped. I told him I just wanted to walk down the hallway a bit and see the beautiful courtyard where tea is served amidst a harp playing, and he said that was quite all right and also gave me a brochure on the hotel – the prices are staggering, and justifiably so. Apparently it is not owned by Mr. Fayad any more.

I thought you might get a kick out of seeing what their city street cleaners looked like…even have matching sweepers!

Place de la Concorde, originally dedicated to Louis XV. This also became the site of the guillotine, under whose blade many great figures lost their heads – King Louis XVI and his queen Marie Antoinette being two of them. The Egyptian obelisk from the temple of Luxor stands in the center of the square.
 



 

 

 

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