The Louvre: Famous, Favorites and Funny

Do you remember the Hans Christian Anderson tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes?” If not, here is the condensed story from Wikipedia:

A vain Emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two weavers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothes themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the weavers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor suspects the assertion is true, but continues the procession.

I can’t imagine coming to Paris and not visiting at least a few of the museums. On this trip, we plan to visit: The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée d’Art Moderne, The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (The Science Museum).

But we’re not art or history experts by any means.

When we visited The Louvre in 2001, I was 29 and wide-eyed. It was my first time in Europe and I really wanted to see the ‘important’ paintings and sculptures. But it’s fairly subjective, don’t you think?

This time I enjoyed The Louvre so much more. I’d like to think that I’m still wide-eyed in wonder, but I’m comfortable enough to be honest about what resonates with me and what doesn’t. I wanted to see the famous paintings and sculptures. But I also wanted to wander and naturally notice paintings and sculptures that really appealed to me.

Let’s start with the funny:

I’m not sure why these identical gentleman are so captivated by their nethers, but it made me smile:

or this fellow, what is this pose? Perhaps, “oooh lala…”

or this, I think that Solomon was right, there really is nothing new under the sun. I’m waiting for him to wink and say, “Hey…”

But then I discovered new favorites, for many reasons: a look that struck me, or a face that reminded me of someone I know and love. Like this for example, that reminded me of my nephew Everest:

Or these ladies who captivated me with their sultry or pouty looks, or even their alarm.

Some paintings are so large that it’s easy to let all of the details blur. I enjoyed spending time with a few of them, really focussing on the individual elements that made the sum greater than the whole.


a book burning…

The Louvre is filled with religious art and much of it isn’t particularly appealing to me. Though I appreciate the skill and dedication it took to create the paintings and sculptures, I find many of them syrupy and melodramatic. But I was touched by this painting of Christ on the cross with a woman grieving, kneeling near his feet.

Then there are these, personal favorites…

And these, some of the most famous….

And, of course, Leonardo di Vinci’s Mona Lisa – a painting with a storied past – it has survived much conjecture on identity and even gender, has been sliced and doused with acid by vandals and, my personal favorite, was stolen for two years by a museum employee who simply slipped the painting under his coat and walked out.






16 responses to “The Louvre: Famous, Favorites and Funny”

  1. Mon Petit Four (@byMonPetitFour) Avatar
    Mon Petit Four (@byMonPetitFour)

    Ohh the Louvre is such fun! I’m not art or history buff either, but I don’t think you have to be one to appreciate the wealth of art and history that is housed in that museum. I love all your picks here….the one where you said the guy is probably thinking “oh la la” totally made me laugh! It’s crazy to see those kind of paintings among the more serious works…makes you giggle! Also, I always have fond memories of the one with the naked woman looking over her shoulder as she lies on the chaise. My uncle has a copy of that painting hanging in his restaurant since forever, and I always associate it with fond memories at his restaurant. Can’t wait to read more of your Paris posts…I feel like I get to be with you there <3

    1. Marissa Avatar

      Wow, I wasn’t familiar with that painting, so sweet that you know it. I’d love it if you were here! xo

  2. KevinIsCooking Avatar

    Thanks for letting me live vicariously again on your trip here. It was a pleasant break from work!
    Ah the Louvre, where there is the Egypt exhibit. As a complete and utter Egyptophile, it’s extensive and so beautiful.
    While I love losing hours wandering each of these – The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, the hidden gem we literally stumbled across one visit is the Orangerie Museum new the Louvre. Monet’s water lilies murals are there and the expanse and majestic beauty of them really amazed me. I had NO idea the size they actually are, huge. Unlike the Mona Lisa, which when we first entered the room (first I might add as we RAN all the way as soon as it opened to peek at her alone before the crowds descended) is as small as a postage stamp!
    That museum is also where I fell in love with the artist Amedeo Modigliani. Amazing portraits, although I tend to go more in towards quirky then the traditional in art.
    Thanks for the break and the photos, looking forward to more posts!

    1. Marissa Avatar

      Thank you so much for this, Kevin! We took your advice and loved the Orangerie Museum.

  3. Tom_Colo Avatar

    Nothing like a day expanding your artistic horizons…. I can tell by your shots 🙂 Now Lets Eat!

    Looking forward to the classic pic of you and K sitting outside a bistro, a bottle wine, and a French onion soup to die for in front of you.

    You will know you have found the right place when they serve the wine in a small water glass.

    Keep the pics and stories coming!

    1. Marissa Avatar

      Aww, yes. Wine in what Americans would use for juice always feels authentically French. And amen to eating! 🙂 I’ve been in our little kitchen cooking all day…recipes coming soon.

  4. Dorothy Dunton Avatar
    Dorothy Dunton

    Hi Marissa! All I can say is amazing! And these posts let us be there with you – thank you! Monet has always been a favorite of mine – they are so calming and tranquil. 🙂

    1. Marissa Avatar

      What a nice compliment, Dorothy. Thank you. And I agree about Monet. His paintings are so peaceful. xo

  5. MiraL (@miralsl) Avatar
    MiraL (@miralsl)

    So glad you shared this story Marissa! I’ve been there a few years back and loved it! You got some amazing pictures! Can’t wait to read more posts like this 🙂

    1. Marissa Avatar

      Thank you, Mira!

  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella Avatar
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    We went to The Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and were surprised at how small it was! Hehe I enjoyed your tour Marissa 😉

    1. Marissa Avatar

      Thanks, Lorraine. And I completely agree – I couldn’t believe how small it was!

  7. Helen @ Scrummy Lane Avatar
    Helen @ Scrummy Lane

    This is a hilarious run-down of all the amazing art you’ve seen, Marissa! I love your comment about seeing people you know in some of them … hahahaha! In fact, I have a photo of a friend standing next to a photo in the Louvre that looks just like him!
    Seems like you’re having a really good time. If you get chance, go to a restaurant in the Latin Quarter called ‘Le jardin d’Ivy’. Loved the food and host … and good value for Paris, too!

    1. Marissa Avatar

      That’s hilarious! Yesterday I saw a painting that looks just like Susan Sarandon! Thanks for the restaurant recommendation, we’ll definitely check it out. xo

  8. Ann Barnes Avatar
    Ann Barnes

    I too was moved by the painting of Christ on the cross with the weeping woman. I took a photo of this about twenty years ago in the Louvre and am hoping you can tell me who the artist is. I have spent hours trying to remember. I thought it was by El Greco but can’t seem to find anything about this painting. I am hoping you can enlighten me.

    1. Marissa Avatar

      Hello, Ann. 🙂 I had to look it up myself – here it is: The Crucifixion, 1758. Pierre-Paul Prud’hon. The Louvre, Paris

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