Call me old-fashioned, but I love the architecture of 100 years ago. A walk along the Seine River in Paris last month gave me the chance to admire a series of beautiful bridges. This ornate one was built as part of the 1900 Exposition. Just look at the sculptures, the gold leaf and the series of lanterns.
I was walking from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. It was cold and crisp, and I was grateful that there will still a few leaves on the trees. Paris is a great city to walk until your feet beg for mercy. When that happens, you can stop for a coffee and croissant, and then walk some more.
Symmetry is a key attribute of Renaissance architecture, and this side entrance of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France is a classic example. If you fold this photograph in half, down the center line, the two sides would nearly match up — save for a few pedestrians and patches in the old roof.
Do you like patterns? You can appreciate the double and triple repetition in the exterior when you take time to study this photograph. Look at the three portals and parallel windows above. Then see how many pairs you can find: in windows, towers, statues and so on. This architecture almost reminds you of music — perhaps Bach.
While the new pyramid pedestrian entrance designed by Chinese American architect I. M. Pei gets all the attention these days, don’t forget about the historic parts of the museum (first a royal palace) built in the 16th to the 19th centuries. This section of the Louvre faces a bridge over the River Seine.
Le Petit Trianon was a small but elegant palace in the gardens of Versailles, which Louis XVI gave to his teenage Austrian bride Marie Antoinette. The young queen Marie welcomed a private refuge from the abundance of formal ceremony of the court at the grand palace, and she was able to relax in a more rustic setting alongside her “hameau” or little farm.
This ornate metal banister in Le Petit Trianon caught my eye, and I am intrigued by the symbols in the design. First, I see the monogram of Marie Antoinette (“MA”), and next I see some chickens, perhaps a reference to her farm. I would be interested to hear from a scholar about the types of leaves that are represented here, laurel leaves?
Standing in the security line at Versailles, I noticed the fresh gold leaf on the ornate gates to the Palace. My mind wandered to the history of the Sun King, Louis XIV who built most of the Palace and the angry and hungry French revolutionaries who stormed the Palace, attempting to capture and kill the monarchs.
And how history repeats itself. The current Yellow Vest protesters in Paris argue that the rich need to aide the poor. Then, in America we have a “man bites dog” situation where the wealthy president fights to build a wall to keep out the poor. Poor vs rich, rich vs poor.
Then, I come back to the present where I stand in line and admire the gates for the outstanding piece of historic artistry they are. In this view, perspective lines up the gates in opposition to the palatial architecture behind them. Admire the iconography: see the “Sun king” represented? I’m grateful that the French government of the 20 and 21 century has restored these gates for all of us to admire and appreciate and to reflect upon history.
Violent demonstrations have eclipsed the peace you can usually count on in Paris, the “City of Light,” but we are hoping that this unrest will soon come to an end, so Parisians and their visitors can enjoy their city again. The lights of the Paris monuments at night are magical.
Since much of the recent demonstrations disrupted the Champs d’Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe, I felt especially lucky that I had the opportunity to climb the 230 steps of the Arc in order to capture this night photo of the Eiffel Tower just last month. The Eiffel Tower puts on a dazzling show on the hour when it sparkles for about 5 minutes.
I’m sorry for the two weeks without new blog posts, but the holiday rush and some traveling has kept me super busy. I will try to resume my good habits of posting three times a week, and I hope you will follow me.
Prints of this image or others in my blog are available through my website if you click on the PRINTS link above. If you need help finding what you are looking for, don’t stress — just send me an email, and I am here to help!
Happy Holidays and good luck with your busy December!