Last revised: May 26, 2013                                                                                     

  Our 2nd day in Paris continues as we visit one of the most
 famous Art Museums in the world: 
The Louvre`. Paris was
 alive with advertising for 'The Davinci Code', on the Metro,
 billboards, kiosks and of course the Louvre` was high on all
 lists of places to spend a day or two.

     Musée du Louvre`     

The Masterpiece:  That Mysterious Smile! 
Leonardo used a hazy technique called sfumato, blurring the edges of Mona's mysterious smile. You can never quite see
the corners of her mouth. Is she happy? Sad? Tender? Or is it a cynical supermodel's smirk? Looking past the smile and
the eyes you see a surprisingly massive and statue-like body, a perfectly balanced pyramid turned at an angle so that we
can see its mass. Her arm is resting lightly on the chair's armrest like she is sitting in a window looking out at us.  Overall
the mood is one of balance and serenity, but there's also an element of mystery. Her smile and long-distance beauty are
subtle and elusive, tempting but always just out of reach.   --
Rick Steves' "Mona Winks"

Leonardo da Vinci's favorite painting, the 'Mona Lisa'.
It is also known as 'La Gioconda' ("La Joconde"), a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a
wealthy Florentine merchant.  "La Gioconda" is known as a contraction of the  Italian for "my lady Lisa".

Musée du Louvre was built as a fortress by King Philippe-Auguste in 1190. Charles V (1364-80) was the first king to make it his home. In the 16th century François I replaced it with a Renaissance-style palace and founded the royal art collection with 12 paintings looted from Italy. Revolutionaries opened the collection to the public in 1793. Napoleon renovated the Louvre as a museum. In the 1980's French President François Mitterrand launched the project known as the "Grand Louvre" to renovate and extend the existing museum space. American architect I.M. Pei designed a new entrance in the central Cour Napoléon. The stunning glass Pyramid,  gives access to the main museum areas and was constructed to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution.

The Pyramide -- Museum entrance

The metal and glass pyramid enables views of the surrounding buildings, and
allows light down into the underground visitors' reception area.

The Pyramide is 70 ft. high on a base of over 100 ft. square. It is made of 793 glass diamonds and triangles fitted together with pinpoint accuracy and mounted on an aluminum framework supported by 93.5 tons of girders and stainless steel joints. The new kind of glass is both lightweight and strong, transparent but with minimum reflectivity.

Louvre` 2nd level - Outdoor Cafe overlooking courtyard.

After about an hour of the Louvre`, we had lunch at their 2nd level cafe!

        Napoleon III's Apartments        

Napoleon III's Apartments was a particularly interesting area of the Louvre`, which was used for sumptuous state
receptions. Occupied by the Ministry of Finance from 1871 until as recently as 1989, this wing was finally opened to the
public in 1993. ("Can you imagine living in these surroundings?")  The paintings, the stucco, the gilded furniture with its
silk coverings, and the marble and bronze of the fireplaces constitute one of the greatest achievements of the Napoleon
III style.

Napoleon III's Apartment


"...not tonight, thanks, we already have other dinner plans..."

Napoleon III's Apartment

Napoleon III's Apartment

They said I couldn't buy this chair...

This table and chairs weren't for sale either...

This is what Karen wanted to bring home...

No, she's not on her cell phone calling the bank... She's using the Museum's Audio
Guide to learn more about Napoleon's Apartment. Various museum selections have
numbers associated, and you dial in the number to hear descriptions and information.


Last revised: May 26, 2013

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