January 18, 2013

A quick tour through the Louvre

A visit to the Louvre?
Where to start?

Oriel jumps to the rescue. Oriel is the founder of Paris Walks. Since 1994 she brings past and contemporary Paris to life with her expertise on art, architecture, religion and history - always accompanied by a pinch of British sense of humour. Clear, explicit, descriptive and concise explainations are her forte.

She took an International group of 15 mums with 11 nationalities between them - yes, that would be us - on a tour to discover the French and Flemish art at the Louvre. We learnt about the territories of Burgundy and Flanders and how in the 14th century the "International gothic style" describes a style of painting, sculpture and decorative art that extended across western Europe. I loved that rendition!

Oriel pointed out the differences of French realism vs the idealised Italian art. THAT made me giggle!

She explained the progress from tempera to the beginning of oil painting techniques. We awed at all the symbolic meanings in every detail of the pieces of art. A river stands for life, a magpie for death, a peacock for immortality, churches for religious life and salvation, a dog for good judgement and a globe for the power over the universe.

We admired a painting from the 1450s depicting the Louvre in the background and studied the fashion of the day in shoes, patterns, materials and colours depicted.

Did you know that black was the elegant dressing colour for royalty and aristocracy in the 16th century?

We moved on to the 17th century still life paintings which again were full of symbolism. Apparently pieces of art were subject for reflection, meditation and discussion, for example the brevity of life. A mirror stands for sight, vanity and fragility of life, caranations stand for smell and symbolize incarnation, cards imply touch, food equals taste, sound is represented by musical instrument and is an euphorism for love making and evoke a woman's virtues. Simple subjects and monumental figures were the tendency with strong contast of dark and light.

In just over two hours we took a closer look at some twenty paintings all of them were poetic, striking and beautiful thanks to Oriel's captivating explanations and her stimulating interpretation.


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