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August 24, 2009


On my one and only visit to the Louvre, I too found it overwhelming in size and scope. Much prefer smaller museums. We did get close to the Mona Lisa though getting jostled by the excited throngs was very off-putting. One is surprised by how small the painting is.

I hope you have a few more posts up your sleeve related to the trip. Our readers (and your co-bloggers) on A.B. do not know that you spent some time in your childhood in Paris and attended elementary school there. What I would like very much to hear is a personal account of how you felt about being back in the city as an adult and what childhood memories of your previous stay came into play.

All huge museums are aggregations of small museums. That's my motto. Sujatha's meanderings suggest a perfect way to view any museum, in bite-size pieces, one at a time as the spirit moves you. During a recent trip to DC, I ambled through the National Portrait Gallery and the adjacent Museum of American Art, admiring the busts of brooding doofuses who forged an empire or whatever, just a floor or two away from some compellingly funky contemporary stuff. It was a delightful couple of casual hours. At the Louvre, however, I'd avoid Leonardo--so overrated as an artist, such a tiresome icon of pointless innovation--and head for the Raphael.

Bite-size pieces work well, but are best for the locals, not for the world-trotters who have a dozen other monuments to visit before they fly off into the sunset. I tend to do the sectional views most frequently at the Carnegie museums of Pittsburgh.

Though I must warn you, in the Louvre, it is probably easier to get to the Leonardos than the Raphaels. Expect to be swept towards the Mona Lisa by the human tsunami, whether you wish it or not!

The Mona Lisa is disappointingly small, but The Wedding Feast at Cana is the largest painting in the Louvre and surely one of the most vivid (some wag called positioning it opposite the ML a 'triumph of curatorship' in his blog. I'm sure that it was only half in jest.)
Childhood memories are strangely focussed and specific things, as I realized when I visited an old apartment complex that we had lived in. There were some things that were crystal clear in my memories, and others which were completely wiped out.
My husband was getting quite annoyed with me on the metro : "Surely you must remember this station..."
"Nope, it's a total blank". As it turned out, we were travelling primarily on line 1, while the one I used as a kid was line 10.:)

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