That Mona Lisa Smile and Stendhal Syndrome

That Mona Lisa Smile and Stendhal Syndrome

 

A few weeks ago I got to finally visit the Louvre in Paris. A word of warning: this is the second biggest museum in the world. Even knowing this didn’t not prepare me for the sheer scale of the place. It is ENORMOUS. Unbelievably big. I’ve walked round the outside of it several times but it never sank in how huge it is. With this in mind, we planned to go to one exhibit first and see how much time we had after that. I’m glad we made this decision because by the time we’d corralled the group and walked what felt like about a mile (it may actually have been close to this) we were running out of time.

The exhibit was of course the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo Da Vinci. We walked past countless works of breathtakingly amazing art. I had to stop even glancing around me. I’m somewhat prone to Stendhal syndrome, that psychosomatic disorder where a person becomes totally overwhelmed by beauty to the extent they can faint or become otherwise incapacitated. So I focused on just getting us all to the painting.

I’m afraid I was underwhelmed. This is the most famous painting in the world:

It’s quite dull, behind bulletproof glass and a horde of people snapping away. To me, it had no atmosphere except that which the long walk and expectation created. It didn’t overwhelm me, even though I was primed to be knocked over. Worth billions itself and worth billions more through related merchandising, I just thought, “Meh!” and turned away. Call me a Phillistine if you like but it did nothing for me.

Later that evening, I finally had my portrait sketched at the artists’ square at Montmartre. The artists were doing good business and one offered to do mine for just 20 euros; I glanced at his work and decided to sit. Everyone agreed that he’d done astounding work for just fifteen minutes sketching.

Art and beauty are very subjective things but I’d rather appreciate something for its appeal to me than be swept along with the hype. 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stendhal_syndrome

 

The Pyramids of the Louvre

Under this arch, a young man played the flute so hauntingly I dug out my purse and put a few euros in his hat…

It’s astounding the detail you miss by just marching on, eyes ahead.

Parisians were ambivalent about the Pyramids but seem to be happy with them now. But then Napoleon had a real obession with Egypt so maybe it’s in keeping after all…

Sunlight sparkled on the clear shallow water and made it unbearably inviting on a hot, hot day…

Excuse the pasty white pins!

Note the rows of shoes…..

Coming soon: Paris scams and beggars’ tricks.

Me and my shadow in Paris

 

I had a thought; there’s a new Dan Brown due out in a few weeks time. The Lost Symbol, I believe it’s called.

I went to Paris for work last summer and took the following photo while walking round the outside of the Louvre; time didn’t permit entry. I was trying to capture the inverted pyramid where Dan Brown asserted Mary Magdalene’s remains were buried. I only got a good photo of my shadow.

But that’s the way of it. In trying to capture certain things, we see our shadow more clearly than anything else. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louvre_Pyramid13-06-08_1405