The Magic of the Louvre
This is me in 2007 front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. I love this photo because it sums up so much of my trip and the emotion behind it. I was 18. I went to Europe (Italy, France, Spain) for two weeks by myself, with 500 Euro in my pocket. I didn’t check the weather, I got scammed out of money, I stayed in hostels with all types of different kinds of people, I spoke in local languages, I took overnight trains…
I got off the train in Paris. It was July. And it was freezing and pouring rain. Pouring as in, I stepped off the train and was soaked within ten seconds. It rained for the duration of my stay in Paris. The first thing I did was buy an umbrella, but that broke, so it was easier to just walk around soaking wet. On the day this photo was taken, I had first gone to the Musee d’Orsay, but I didn’t buy tickets ahead of time and the line was over three hours long (literally – there were people who had been in line for three hours, who were not even near the front.) I was soaked, hungry, art-starved, and dejected. I got lunch at the Cafe d’Orsay across the street (no relation to the museum in terms of business): a steak (yeah! America!), a latte, and homemade chocolate mousse. I sat next to a Dutch couple who are in my Top Five Most Impressive People I’ve Met list. They spoke five languages and they were art dealers from Holland. Epic.
After this uplifting experience, I went to the Louvre (my second day at the Louvre – the first day, I woke up at 6am to wait in line to get in). It was still freezing cold and raining. I had dried off by the time this was taken, on my way into the gallery. It was the first thing I saw as I walked down the long corridor, with a skylight above it, the light beaming down onto Winged Victory like she was coming alive; like I was walking on sacred ground, toward this magnificent sculpture and the art works that it beckoned to. It is monumental. I was blown away and I took so many photos of it in an attempt to preserve its impact. I had to get a picture of myself with it. The only clean clothes I had were what I was wearing (the skirt and scarf I bought two days prior in Barcelona). By this point, I had been away from my European home, Florence, for a week. I was totally exhausted, drained, running out of money, and yet simultaneously overwhelmed with excitement to actually see the masterpieces I have loved for so long from a distance. I think I cried when I saw the Raft of the Medusa in person. I know I cried when I saw the Oath of the Horatii. That whole section of the Louvre was like heaven for me. I was walking amongst Michelangelos, Raphaels, Davids, Gericaults, Canovas… I was in their spaces, examining them, feeling probably what their contemporary viewers felt. I was being seduced by Cupid & Psyche; called to action by the Oath of the Horatii; influenced into meditative stillness by Da Vinci. How could I leave?