Friday, February 10, 2012

Grand Tour, Part 4: The Art of Paris

We’re here in Paris! We are staying in a sumptuous hotel close to the opera-house, which I am told has the greatest splendor of set decorations of any theatre in Europe. Streets seem a bit more narrow than we’re used to and a lot dirtier. But the architecture is even more sweeping, a grand scale envisioned by Napoleon. Many of his plans remain unfinished, such as the Arc de l’Etoile and the Fountain of the Elephant. But our dear Mrs. Starke calls the Louvre, which houses the Musee Royal, one of the most perfect specimens of modern architecture. Many of its treasures were plundered in the wars, but plenty remain for us to appreciate!

Let’s go there first this morning. It is open Tuesday through Sunday, and foreigners like us are allowed entrance free from 10am to 4pm so long as we show our passports. We wander through the marble-tiled ground floor, where from the vestibule through the various rooms we find statues from Rome and other parts of Italy crowded side by side. As you know, in her guidebook Mrs. Starke puts exclamation points beside the most meritorious things to view. It seems that covers everything in the Louvre! One item with three exclamation points is a the statue of Silenus with the infant Bacchus (much like this one), which was discovered in the 16th century in the gardens of Sallust.

Thoroughly sated, we climb the stairs for Gallery of Apollo to see the paintings. The Gallery has nine parts, the first three devoted to French masters, the second three to German, Flemish, and Dutch artists; and the last three to Italian artists. Here again, paintings are crammed cheek to jowl, stacked frame to gilded frame from the high ceiling down nearly to the floor. Mrs. Starke recommends the Dropsical Woman by Geritt Dou in the Dutch section and Antiope Asleep by Antonio Allegri da Correggio in the Italian section (both two exclamation points!) as well as several works by Raphael. Also upstairs is the Exhibition Rooms of Living Artists, with more gorgeous works.

I think we could all spend all day here, but there are so many more things to see! One of the areas Mrs. Starke advises us to appreciate is the Boulevards, a set of drives and walks that encircles Paris, bordered by trees and gardens and filled with shops. Then, there is the tempting Bibliotheque du Roi, a library with more than 800,000 printed volumes, 80,000 manuscripts, and 5,500 volumes of prints. And that’s just one of several libraries open to the public in Paris. Oh, be still my beating heart!

Please look around and enjoy yourselves! Before we leave France, we must visit Versailles! In the meantime, do come back next week, when Nineteenteen celebrates Valentine’s day and the launch of the first book in the Everard Legacy miniseries: The Rogue’s Reform!


Gillian Layne said...

What a fun post. When I hear the Louvre mentioned, it makes me smile. My daughter went to Paris last summer with her French class, and says it's the nicest place she's ever napped in. They hadn't slept in almost two days when they visited, and evidently she and her friend just couldn't keep their eyes open any longer.

I just think she wants an excuse to return. :)

I am so excited the Rogue's Reform is out!

Regina Scott said...

Thanks, Gillian! I can empathize with your daughter. My last trip to England, we arrived in the morning there and decided to tour the Wallace Collection. I was standing there, listening to the docent, when a guard rushed forward and ordered me to take my hands off the furniture. I had nearly fallen asleep standing up and had instinctively reached out and touched a centuries old table to keep from falling over. Hope that gives me an excuse to return too!