Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published August 22nd 2021
Bring the Paris Louvre to your lounge room
I don't imagine I will ever actually visit the Louvre in Paris, not only because I don't have any plans to travel to France, but also because of the restrictions of the worldwide COVID pandemic. If there is one thing the pandemic has done for us, it is to open up the Louvre for viewing in our own home.
You can take a free virtual tour around this famous art gallery and museum and view the works of some of the greatest artists the world has ever seen. The artworks themselves are exquisite, but to me, the building, its grandeur and size are equally fascinating.
Anne Vallayer-Coster - Attribute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture - Image Anne Vallayer-Coster, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
These are self-paced tours. You can linger on the artwork for as long as your heart desires; there is no crowd to push you on. At the time of writing, there are four virtual tours available, all of differing exhibitions in the Petite Galerie.
1. The Advent of the Artist. This exhibition spans the time between the anonymous craftsmen to the Renaissance artists. I could not help but dwell on Rembrandt's 1660 Portrait of the Artist in the Auto-Portraits room. His mastery of light takes my breath away. Amongst the others, I can pick no further favourite from these enduring portraits that have stood witness to centuries. I leave you to choose for yourselves, but I will pause to give mention to Albrecht Dürer's Portrait of the Artist Holding a Thistle.
Albrecht Durer - Portrait of the Artist Holding a Thistle - Image Albrecht Dürer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
In the Signatures room, Anne Vallayer-Costa's 1769 painting, Attributes of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture is perhaps the most captivating still life I have ever seen; themed clutter arranged and depicted to perfection. Then from the tight view of the still life to the splendid grandeur of Guiseppe Castiglione's View of the Grand Salon Carré in the Louvre. I am no art critic; I look at these from an ordinary person's view, and I am lost for words.
The beauty of Roman sculptures takes us back two millennia with Venus, Goddess of Love and her Son Cupid, which is thought to have been done by the 4th century BC sculptor, Praxiteles.
2. Power Plays. This exhibition focuses on the connection between art and political power across time. El Greco's 1592-95 painting, Saint Louis, shows us Louis IX, King of France, in armour and a crown, draped in robes and holding the fluer de lys.
El Greco - Saint Louis King of France with a Page - Image El Greco, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
In a glass case, the 1804 Crown of Charlemagne, made by Martin Guillaume Biennais for the coronation of Napoleon, displays the opulence that went hand in hand with power. Here too, further testimony to Napoleon's grandiosity, hangs the exquisite 1805 painting, Napoleon 1 in Coronation Costume, from the studio of François Gérard.
François Gérard - Napoleon I - Image Workshop of François Gérard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Dating to 1553, the Altarpiece of the Crucifixion by Léonard Limosin from the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, a masterpiece of enamel compositions set into painted panels on copper, astounds with its bright colours. Their vibrancy is still apparent nearly 500 years after they were made.
See paintings displaying depicting historic kings draped in the trappings of wealth, sculptures large and small, swords, busts, documents and more.
Altarpiece Crucifixion Limousin Louvre - Image Léonard Limousin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
3. The Body in Movement. This exhibition explores dance and the artistic depiction of movement. Sculptures abound, many in bronze, like Dance Genius No. 2 by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1866-69) and Rodin's 1912 Nijinsky.
A work from the early 1900s futurist movement beckons. Felix Del Marle's 1913, The Skater, is a study in charcoal on paper. The form of the skater appears to become the movement; to me, it appears both simple and complex.
I dwelled for a time at Rubens 1635-38 painting, The Village Fete, a large work of 1.49 x 2.61 metres and one full of detail. There are no less than 50 people in this scene. I counted at least that many. I imagine a person could stand in front of this painting for hours just trying to take in what each of these people is doing. I challenge you to try.
Peter Paul Rubens - The Village Fete - Image Peter Paul Rubens, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
4. Founding Myths–From Hercules to Darth Vader. This exhibition looked at how artists - illustrators, sculptors, painters, puppeteers, filmmakers, and musicians–have used myths as inspiration for their works. Colour makes a statement in this gallery with works displayed on dark blue walls beneath yellow ceilings. The information here is, helpfully, presented in both French and English, but in contrast to the other virtual tours, is a commentary on the room themes rather than specific artworks.