YOPO: You only Paris once, or as in my case dear reader: twice, something of which you will presently be made acutely aware. Wednesday at 12:30h, the Marchutz students accompanied by the art history class (to make about 29 students total) got on the bus to get to the train, and before we knew it we were there. All in all, we only had one luggage casualty. We stayed in a hotel that the school uses every year, and they’re strict about 3 things in particular: no drinking alcohol in the rooms (ha!), no making noise after 10pm (again, ha!), and the doors lock at 1am. That last rule was a problem for a few people who had a little too much fun. During one of the nights I befriended some Germans who are apparently free from the alcohol rule, since unlike us, they actually know how to be quiet.
Wednesday night we went out and explored the city. There was a man playing guitar on one of the bridges that crosses the Seine (right near Notre Dame), and I enjoyed it so I gave him 10 cents. I separated myself from the group momentarily in order to sketch the water, but was soon interrupted by a guy who starting talking to me, telling me about his trips to the US, and how travel has gotten much more expensive since the 70’s.
The adventure truly began on Thursday, which we spent in the Louvre (The phrase “I’m in Louvre with you” got old pretty quickly). Our instruction was to “put on our blindfolds” and follow our professors to the first painting of the day, rapidly. Once we arrived we were given a measly 30 minutes to look around. So we walked around and looked at Renaissance paintings, including the Mona Lisa. Then we all gathered in front of Georgione’s Le Concert Champions (now attributed to Titian), from 1509, where we would remain for the next 2 and a half hours. As one of the art professors had told us in the pep-talk from the previous night: “We have time and we will take our time.” So we examined the painting, thinking about the form and how it brought some meaning to life. We didn’t even discuss every detail. Delacroix quotes were sprinkled throughout, since, well, my professor likes Delacroix. “Remember what Delacroix said…” was usually followed by a new quote, such as “naturalism is a dead end in art”. This is the one I remember, at any rate.
After our unreasonably-priced lunch (shrimp with noodles in my case) we split into two groups, each led by one of the professors, and we looked at 2 paintings. We used all the time we had until museum employees politely made us leave. My group started with a 4-walled room, and upon each wall was a painting by Poussin, each depicting a season and a biblical scene. The one we looked at was L’Automne, also called La Gorge de Raisin (Grape Gourge). So once again we spent hours looking and talking; about how the mountain is a symbol between Heaven and Earth, the use of perspective to draw the viewer’s eye toward the mountain, the characteristics of the 5 human figures, et cetera.
Last (and in my opinion, least) was The Countess del Carpio, Marquesa de la Solana, by Goya. Apparently this woman wanted a portrait done of her because she knew she was going to die soon. I didn’t write anything down about this painting, so I don’t really remember anything else about it. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must have been to pose the way she is shown standing, seeing as I haven’t made high heels a fashion priority (and if you have to ask, no, men don’t wear high heels even in France. Sadly, I cannot say the same of Barcelona).
I went to bed early that day.
*Please note that the above pictures are pasted from the internet and thus do not really look like the real thing. As my art history professor once said: “Do you want to experience your first kiss out on the porch on a midsummer night after the prom? or do you want to read about it?” I didn’t take pictures of the paintings themselves because that would be rather silly…