The Louvre: three works

Visitors to Paris usually make sure that they see Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum.  With the museum, you quickly realise that you can’t take in everything in a short time.  People zoom in on the Mona Lisa, perhaps the Venus de Milo and a few other things.  We can begin expressing our admiration for what we see, but we won’t reach the end of doing that, not in one lifetime.

The first thing that struck me about the Mona Lisa was the size.  In the thousands of copies that one sees, the image in our mind seems to grow larger.  For brief seconds, I went up to it, seeing the filigree cracks in the paint before I was firmly told to stand back by a guard.  She is still there, after 500 years, intriguing and fascinating her viewers.  I looked at the river stream behind her and no, I couldn’t see whether it was flowing upwards.  And is that woman smiling?  She could be, but then again …

The Winged Victory of Samothrace must hold the most striking place in the museum.  It is at least 2200 years old and near or far from it, I think to myself, Were their sculptors better than ours?

The figure seems to be poised to leave the earth, to rise from curve of the planet.  And what makes it enigmatic is that it has no head.  Even if the original sculptor had not intended it that way, I (we?) receive it with profound paradox.

The Raft of Medusa, painted by Théodore Géricault in 1818-19, was prompted by the real-life event of the raft used in 1816 to save the crew of a sunken French frigate.  The few survivors had horrendous tales to tell.  The painting proved controversial, but its worth was soon recognized, its influence burgeoning.

Five metres by seven metres, this huge painting was a break-away from the ethos of the calm rationality of 18th-century painting, The figures in the painting are mostly life-sized.  I was moved by the twisted torment of bodies which seem to surge up, from the dead and dying, toward the weak, the brave survivor, waving his desperate hankerchief at the distant ship.


Three works … beyond them treasures one can’t imagine.  In one place!  May none of us commit the sin of boredom.

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

October, 2017



Wikpedia: Mona Lisa,Winged Victory and Raft of Medusa



Mona Lisa – Wikipedia

Winged Victory – justfunfacts. .com

Raft of Medusa –








One Response to The Louvre: three works

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