Blog

THATLou

X

THATLou Roundup (+ Limericks!)
08 April 2012
  • THATLou

THATLou Roundup (+ Limericks!)

Poisson d’Avril’s THATLou fishermen
Poisson d’Avril’s THATLou fishermen, counting their score


One couldn’t win a THATLou exclusively on bonus points, but it’s the bonus points which make the hunt so much more entertaining. Some questions quiz you on your knowledge of Paris, for others it’s a physical challenge like being able to photograph all four corners of an enormous canvas (your team in the foreground of course). Usually it’s a matter of finding a work by the same artist or palace nearby that may have been profiled in these pages. But recently the limerick and rhyme-on-the-go has made an appearance in the bonus points. Herewith I would like to post two recent little ditties, with a bit of context as to Milo of Croton (a version by Puget as well as one in fighting supine position by Falconet) to follow in the days to come:

The winners of THATLou Kids yesterday was Team Perfectly Sweet Paris, comprised of three lovely brunette Sweet Peas aged 8 – 14 (Yasmin, Margot and Maïa) and their mothers, Gail, of Perfectly Paris, and Alisa, of Sweet Pea. They were also well ahead of the other teams of kid-parent teams in part due to the following limerick, a bonus request embedded in the text of both Puget and Falconet’s sculptures of Milo of Croton:

MILO OF CROTON
There once was a fellow named Milo
Who wanted to live in a Silo
But as Croton had said, “You are out of your head,
And you may as well live in a pastry of Phyllo”

 Team Perfectly Sweet Paris
Team Perfectly Sweet Paris, wordsmiths on the go

And the Poisson d’Avril team below, comprising Jonathan, Vanessa, Jessa and Ben, produced an adorable ditty for Abraham van Beyeren’s Still Life with Carp, a 17th Century Dutch painting featured in these pages. Beyeren was a protege of a (lesser) still life painter with a fantastic name: Pieter de Putter. The clever fishermen below were granted bonus points a plenty for reading the small print and writing:

Pieter de Putter
Painted a Painting of Fish
And this looked de-lish

Poisson d'Avril rappers
Poisson d'Avril rappers

Winners of the 1 April Poisson d’Avril THATLou consisted of Colette Dillon Waldron, Mathieu Romary, Sasha Levenson-Wahl, of Savoir Faire Paris, and Sara Waldron, of Brunette à Bicyclette. As the theme was Fish + Water, they won a very fancy water gun, which I believe Sasha and Mathieu will be using indiscriminately on their adorable pooch. I hadn’t realised they, too, have a limerick (which shall be posted imminently). And just for the record I would like to state that I was not responsible for counting their score — I mention this as both Sasha and Sara have generously written THATLou up on their newsletter and blog, respectively.

Poisson d'Avril winners
Poisson d'Avril winners

Apologies for my fuzzy phone photos. If you have THATLou hunting shots you’d like included, please send them my way (And sorry I haven’t posted the ones I already have). At some point I’ll start a photo page at top (under “THATLou”), where you  can see former teams out on the prowl, in action or counting up their score.

Last, but certainly not least: A very big thanks to the following people who have written up THATLou in their newsletters and blogs (I shall figure out the hyperlink soon enough, but for now a cut and paste will have to do). Again, I shall start a “Reviews” page up under the THATLou tab. In any event, I greatly appreciate all of the generosity and help spreading the word of all of those below:

Perfectly Paris

http://parisperfectlyparis.blogspot.fr/2012/04/thatlou-treasure-hunt-at-louvre.html

The Savoir Faire Paris newsletter

http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=3c69e1e8c9ec80f878b6e4945&id=537f081041&e=7d16366646

Totally Frenched Out

http://totallyfrenchedout.blogspot.fr/2012/03/thatlou.html

Out and About with Mary Kay

http://www.outandaboutinparis.com/search?q=thatlou

Jennyphoria

http://www.jennyphoria.com/2012/04/treasure-hunt-at-louvre.html

Love in the City of Lights

http://www.loveinthecityoflights.com/paris/treasure-hunting/
3 Kings Day THATLou!
06 January 2013
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

3 Kings Day THATLou!

Adoration of the Magi
Bernardino Luini’s Adoration of the Magi, 1520-25, au Louvre (from Wikipedia)

Today is the eve of Epiphany, 6 January! A day of merrymaking, the 12th Day of Christmas has more than 12 drummers drumming (which apparently refers to the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle’s creed, within the Christmas carol)… It has Three Kings visiting baby Christ in Bethlehem; Melchior, Gaspar (sometimes known as Caspar) and Balthazar were the Magi or Three Wise Men representing Europe, Arabia and Africa. They arrived on horse, camel and elephant and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, respectively. Balthazar is one of my favourite names – in fact I used to be a regular at a Keith McNally resto in NY by the same name just as an excuse to enunciate it.

Different cultures give Three Kings Day different rituals. Argentina (and most other Spanish-speaking countries) on the eve of El Día de los Reyes has children polish their shoes and leave them outside their door filled with grass or hay, a bowl of water next to them. The morning of 6 Jan, the shoes are filled with gifts and the bowl’s empty (the camels having eaten the hay and drunk the water). Why shoes, I’m not sure (but why Christmas stockings for us? Must look it up). The French, true to their tummies, have a frangipane-filled Galettes des Rois (almond-paste filled cake that has a little figurine known as la fève (originally a broad bean, or fève). Whoever gets the slice of cake with the fève is king for the day. The president at the Elysée Palace has a Galette des Rois that’s more than a meter in diameter, but it’s without a fève, because it wouldn’t be very fitting to find a King in the presidential palace of the Republic, now would it? In the States Three Kings Day is when you’re supposed to exchange your gifts (though we’ve moved this forward to the Hallmark date of 25 Dec) and is also the day you take down your Christmas tree and decorations.

But we’re getting side tracked here – what is the single most important thing that’s happening in France for the 2013 Three Kings Day? No it’s not that meter-wide, feve-less gâteau at the Elysée, pshah! It’s the Kings + Leaders THATLou, of course! And what is this post devoted to, but one of the treasures that our hunters will be chasing after. Lucky are those that are reading these words, because otherwise they wouldn’t know that Bernardino Luini (1480/82 – 1532)’s fine Adoration of the Magi fresco (seen above) can be found in the Duchatel Room (seen below):

Duchatel Room, Denon
Duchatel Room, Denon, 1st Floor, Room 2 (taken from the Louvre Atlas database)

Not a lot is known about Luini, other than that he moved to Milano in 1500 from his small town near Lago Maggiore and that in Milano he was heavily influenced by Leonardo, with whom he worked. One of his signatures is graceful female figures with elongated eyes, which Vladimir Nabokov called “Luiniesque” in La Venezia (1924).

The Duchatel Room (found on the 1st floor of the Denon Wing, off of the Italian Gallery), has been the subject of a handful of interesting articles. The collection was left to the Louvre together, and included the Fra Angelico crucifixion (seen in the photo) as well as two Ingres.

The hunters will get a bit more about the Luini Adoration of the Magi tomorrow (a painting which would also be suitable for a Structure + Space THATLou, so organised is the architecture in the quiet scene). Though not half so well known as Georges de La Tour’s Adoration of the Shepherds. I think it’s twice as attractive!
A Hunter's Theme
08 February 2013
  • THATLou

A Hunter's Theme

Dear Friends of THATMuse,

Just a quick note. For the next two weeks El Argentino, STORSH and I are going on a little adventure. First to good old ‘Stamboul for a wonderful dose of Byzantium, and then, if we muster the nerve (we’ll see how easy travelling with an energetic toddler is)  winding our way down the Aegean coast, ideally zigzagging our way between the Greek Islands and the Greek and Roman ruin-sprinkled Turkish coast. All this to say the posts of the next few weeks will have a slightly un-Louvre taste to them. Two series are scheduled to run — one meant to be a bureaucratic farce contemplating a Comparison of Consulates (whilst getting STORSH’s two passports) and the other a 3-part piece on the Grand Palais. Apologies for this diversion from all things Louvre, all things art, all things THATMuse. Perhaps a welcomed change for you – who knows.

As a quick adieu, below are a list of the themes of THATLous that I’ve built since the first Blogger’s hunt on 23 March. If you have suggestions for common themes in western art, please do send them my way. If I make a hunt you’ve suggested you’ll get a free ticket to THATLou!

So here are the themes: Angels and Wings? Just think of adorable little putti prancing about. Fish and Water? Perhaps a few 17th century Dutch still lifes are in there. Power and Money? Give me busts of glory! Perhaps from the Roman Empire? You get the idea. For now, all of the below hunts are in English, sauf! Wheels and Motion, which is thus far our only French hunt (to which I have a fast-moving Italian to thank).

Angel + Wings

Fish + Water

Power + Money

Food + Wine

Ladies at the Louvre

Animals in Art

Wheels + Motion (offered in French)

For private parties I design specific hunts, working with the client on which theme is both achievable within the museum, as well as what would suit the guest of honour most. For example, if it’s a birthday party and the boy’s name is Sebastian, we could have a theme of St. Sebastian paintings, sculptures, icons, and arrows in art. Happy May!
Show Me The Money!
01 February 2013
  • THATLou

Show Me The Money!

Just a quick round up of the Power + Money THATLou. A good time was had by all, and quite appropriately a new dimension to THATMuse was created by the Entrepreneurs brainstorming at  table: the THATLou Dollar!

A whole menu of THATLou Dollars will be listed imminently, but the general idea is that if you press ‘like’ or tag a photo on Facebook, write a review on Trip Advisor, tell a friend — who then befriends THATLou and attends the next one (which happens to be Sunday 6 May) you’ll earn THATLou$s. They work like frequent flyer miles and a special thanks to Anne-Pierre de Peyronnet, founder of www.shiraly.com for such a clever idea.

Below are some snaps of the teams as they touched down, as well as the two teams who won Louvre Napoleon paraphernalia (where he was short on height he was certainly tall on power, ooh là là!).


THATLou Entrepreneur's Networking Event



Team Blonde Ambition, ParisGuide Squared, Jo Craig + Lisa Rankin representing Guide2Paris + Flavors of Paris, respectively



Team Savoir Faire Paris, Tess Bovee, Maranda Stappenbeck and founder, Sasha Levenson-Wahl


Team French Mystique Tours, Bruce and Veronique McAleer


Team Shiraly, Raphael d'Aligny + Anne-Pierre de Peyronnet

As for the winners, please join me in congratulating http://www.savoirfaireparis.com/ in their record-breaking WIN. It is record breaking for many reasons:

–       Sasha Levenson Wahl is the first THATLou player to be a two-time winner (yes, others have played more than once!)

–       The Savoir Faire Paris team beat the record with the amount they racked up – finishing with a score of 635 out of 1000!

–       They are also the first team I’ve ever caught separated – debiting points, as per the instructions! It all happened between Livia and Tiberius, and for some reason I found this hilarious. I went to St Stephen’s School, an international boarding school in Rome for a year. There was a great (but fierce & appropriately frightening) head of boarding named Gilly Halfpenny and when Miss Halfpenny caught us smoking out our windows or in one another’s rooms after hours, the heart-stopping panic of how many demerits we were about to be pounded with is exactly the look on Tess, Maranda and Sasha’s faces. Too funny, making me love THATLou and this fine competitive SFP team even more.

Then the most important point of pride for this win really falls to Sasha Levenson-Wahl. Each THATLou has a few pieces of art that are worth considerably more than the others, because they have been written about on this blog (none are sufficient to win the hunt with alone). They always have bonus questions embedded in the text of the description, whose answers have been written about here, on the blog. Sasha read the instructions (disseminated to players usually a day or two before the hunts) carefully the first THATLou she attended (Poisson d’Avril) and as a result did her homework and won the prize. Running into the girls in the Julio-Claudian Roman bust section was even more rewarding for me, because Sasha was swearing about not remembering the name of Messalina, the Empress who slept with 25 men in a 24-hour period. Eventually the name came to her for which they won an extra 50 bonus points. I enjoy designing THATLous for many reasons, but an audience like Sasha, who leaves with this entirely useless piece of trivia about the 3rd wife of Emperor Claudius tops the list. That she, too, can laugh about what I find such fun/funny/ interesting/ notable in the museum pleases no end. So a big thank you to the SFP team for winning the Napoleon coasters seen below.


Winning Team! Savoir Faire Paris, Tess Bovee, Sasha Levenson-Wahl + Maranda Strappenbeck

A second Tweet prize went to Lisa Rankin, of http://flavorsofparis.com/ and Jo Craig, of http://guide2paris.com/. The day of the hunt this competition was announced, and indeed, by miles Flavors of Paris stole the Twitter prize with her clever updates as to donning flats over heels, and all the good cheer she was up ton in preparation for the big competition.  Both Lisa and her husband Michael Lutzmann, who run tours focussed on food in St Germain des Prés, have wonderful, fun, inventive tweets.  A hearty congratulations to both teams, and a toast to both Team Shiraly and Team French Mystique Tours.


Tweet Winners! Flavors of Paris and Guide2Paris, Lisa Rankin and Jo Craig
THATLou: Power+Money
01 February 2013
  • THATLou,
  • Misc

THATLou: Power+Money

Just a quick round up of the notable companies involved in the Paris Entrepreneur’s THATLou. Though its purpose is as a networking event, we can’t overlook the theme these fine capitalists will be scouting for — Power + Money in the halls of the Louvre! This past week THATLou has focused on Roman Empire power, but there’s a panoply of international power both at the Louvre and in these pages which may just nose its way to the surface in this scheming hunt. Stay tuned for the winners. 



NYSE Trader’s floor, 1963 photo by Thomas O’Halloran

THATLou Parisian Entrepreneur Night

http://shiraly.com/

Shiraly is a one-stop website for design professionals to promote their products and services, identify new sources and events, and get inspired by things that help make the world a more interesting place to live in.

Inspiring articles and op-eds range from Lalique’s crystal door, to Delanoe’s recycling in Paris, a brief history of the Paris metro, to thoughts on Balmain’s reinvention, Fauchon and let’s not forget the waterworks show at Le Grand Rex. Though Shiraly is geared toward interior designers and architects, artists and artisans, its “Inspiration” page is read by a far greater audience on both sides of the pond. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

http://www.savoirfaireparis.com/

Savoir Faire Paris is your ultimate English-speaking personal assistant in Paris. Organizing everything from meetings, events, and service calls to travel, apartment management, and the ‘business of living’, Savoir Faire is dedicated to saving you valuable time. Providing superior customized service to individuals, families and businesses alike, Savoir Faire caters to your tastes and needs, allowing you to experience a more personalized Paris. Send us your “to-do” list and then consider it done! Savoir Faire exists to simplify and enhance the lives of its clients.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


http://flavorsofparis.com/


Flavors of Paris We provide highly personal, carefully vetted walking tours of some of Paris’ most charming, pleasurable and downright ‘local’ foodshops that are neither pretentious nor ‘gourmet’. Our English language walking tours introduce you to a sampling of neighbourhood food shops, with all the tastings included. We also offer tours customized to your specific interests. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++  

http://guide2paris.com/

Guide2Paris
is a one-stop website for english speaking tourists, residents and property hunters. Browse the comprehensive Paris guide, check out the events calender, search for Paris companies on our business directory, look for Paris accommodation and restaurants, and keep up to date with the latest Paris news and featured articles. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.frenchmystiquetours.com/


French Mystique Bike Tours is a company that specializes in doing day-long bike tours exploring the countryside near Paris. Our tours are focused on showing you off the beaten path places and are full of charming villages, beautiful country scenery and magnificent châteaux. While we also cover some well known destinations, the emphasis is on showing you a side of France not seen by most tourists. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.kasiadietz.com/


Kasia Dietz is a designer who creates wearable art in the form of totes, handbags, clutches and other limited edition accessories. Select collections are hand-printed. Kasia Dietz also designs custom bags to order. All products are made {with love} in Paris and available internationally.



Adam Smith etching, 1787. Taken from Harvard’s Visual Information Access System (lest the invisible hand attack me, the site is: http://www.library.hbs.edu)

… Because Individual Ambition Does Benefit Society, 
no matter what the French Mercantilists thought…
A Panoply of Power
01 February 2013
  • THATLou

A Panoply of Power



Mme de Pompadour, by Maurice-Quentin Delatour (this is a pastel - how did he avoid smudging??)


My mind has turned to Power & Money at the Louvre as I start to build the Entrepreneur’s THATLou. Sadly it’s rather soon. I say sadly, because there are just so many great anecdotes nestled in the halls of the Louvre. It will be a tough process of elimination more than anything. Should I focus on a region or country? A period of time, perhaps? 

For this theme, could I give myself a real challenge and exclude all French monarchs? The Louvre does have 35,000 works from which to scrounge. And it’s not like France is lacking in colourful figures with tight fists on power: Mme de Pompadour, Mme de Sevigné and Diane de Poitiers are a few who come to mind – None actual Queens.  And ruthlessly ambitious ministers abound – we’ve got the clever economist Jean-Baptiste Colbert, of Colbertism (read, protectionism), the fearsome warrior, Anne de Montmorency (first constable to François I), and the clergymen-turned-politicians Cardinal Richelieu and Talleyrand. But it does seem a crime to leave out the rest of the western cannon just for France.


Alexander the Great 'The Azara Herm' 1st century AD after the original by Lysippus from circa 330 BC

What about Alexander the Great, and his equally important father Philip of Macedon? The Louvre just had an exhibition devoted solely to him. He had the nerve to attack the Persian Empire, pushing as far as the Indus River.  Speaking of the Persian Empire, we mustn’t over look Darius the Great, nor his father or son, Cyrus and Xerxes, respectively. His greatness and matching palace has merited more than one THATLou post.

Then what about the Iliad? The Trojan War is rich in power. Achilles, with his distinctly human faults, personifies power. Perhaps because of that very first scene with him in the Iliad, with Thetis, his goddess mother consoling the big whiney cry baby, trying to coax him into returning to war). There are so many scenes from his life to choose from, so many pots to choose from… the detail below is from an attic black-figured neck amphora from 520 – 510BC. A scene of Ajax carrying a dead Achilles, with Hermes on his left, Athena on his right.



taken from Louvre.fr

Moving on from Greece, one automatically thinks of Rome, no? Finding living fiction, the Julio-Claudian dynasty is of course oozing in power — and very, very RICH in soap-opera, with scheming murders, adultery and just plain juice. Yes, I think our next few posts may linger on the Roman Empire.
Sassy Sculptors
01 February 2013
  • THATLou

Sassy Sculptors



taken from louvre.fr


Milo of Croton was a powerful 6th Century athlete, having won the Olympics 6 times for his strength as a wrestler. As with any star in Greece, there were a plethora of legends about him. One story had him carrying a 4-year old bull on his shoulders before slaughtering and devouring him all in one day… Aristotle compared Milo to Heracles for his appetite: his daily diet was allegedly 20 lb of meat, 20 lb of bread, and eighteen pints of wine. 

But it is Milo’s death which captivates most. His death was the story of pride: Well past his prime, the aged Milo decided to split a tree trunk he found already cleft. With his hand stuck in it, a pack of wolves devoured him. Modern literary references range from Rabelais to Shakespeare, all the way down to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights when Catherine refers to Milo’s demise asking “Who is to separate us, pray? They’ll meet the fate of Milo!”

Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert authorised Pierre Puget (1620 – 1694), an academic sculptor, to use some marble that had been left in Toulon, and commissioned him to do a piece for Louis XIV.  Milo wasn’t a particularly popular subject in 17th C French scupture, but here Puget made him one, replacing the wolves with this fierce-some lion. Having him about to take a big juicy bite out of Milo’s rear-end. A sassy man this Puget was, as the thread keeping Milo’s demise together is about how he was vanquished by his pride and vanity, trying — and failing — to defy age and the weakness that comes with it. His roar isn’t just a physical one from those painful claws, no. Human glory is ephemeral, folks, and Puget wants you, and more importantly, the King, to know it. Life spans were shorter than they are now, so Louis XIV’s 44 years did not make him a spring chicken!



Falconet's Milo of Croton

Etienne-Maurice Falconet (1716 – 1791) took this sassy-ness one step further. Puget’s Milo at least has a small modicum of pride — standing, pushing the lion’s head away. Falconet tipped his hat to his elder by choosing this subject, but furthered Milo’s insult by making him a painful mess, a baroque basket case. He pits man against beast on equal footing, with Milo’s end clearly seconds away. This sculpture is small — .66m tall, .64m wide, .51m deep — and was the model which would gain Falconet entry to the French Academy (ten years later, in 1754). As it’s a small piece it’s tucked away at the end of the French sculpture wing, behind a series of rooms which run along rue de Rivoli. Quite different from Puget’s Milo, who stands smack dab in the middle of the Cour Puget, in the spotlight, where the noses of the public sully the windows on the street, looking into this Richelieu’s sculpture wing.


taken from crashboombang.net

Now aren’t you glad you read this entry? These Milos could appear in all sorts of THATLous, from Power + Money to Animals in Art or Athlete’s THATLou. And now you’re all prepped for any bonus point questions which may arise, even if asked to produce a limerick!
THATMet Teaser, Frank Lloyd Wright
01 February 2013
  • Museum Musings,
  • THATLou

THATMet Teaser, Frank Lloyd Wright



photo taken from the Met's website

Frank Lloyd WRIGHT (1867-1959)

Window from the Coonley House, 1912

Height 86 ¼ x 28 x 2 inches, glass and zinc

The Avery Coonley House, in a suburb of Chicago, was designed by FLW and constructed in 1907-8. Bonus fifty points if you get a tourist to take your whole team’s photo in the Frank Lloyd Wright room nearby — and for those New Yorkers who don’t know where this room is, shame on you. But to put THATMet aside for a moment I must tell you a quick story from FLW’s life, which you guys probably knew, but I didn’t and find it an absolutely bizarre and fascinatingdiscovery: FLW left his first wife in 1909 (in Illinois) for Mamah Borthwick Cheney, a married client with whom FLW was having a long-standing very public affair. In 1911 he and Mamah moved in together in Scottsdale, AZ (where his maternal family was from) in a house he built and named Taliesin…

On August 15, 1914, while Wright was in Chicago, his manservant of 2 months, Julian Carlton, set fire to the living quarters of Taliesin and had a total blood bath, axing 7 people as the fire burned the house down.  The dead were: Mamah; her two children, John and Martha; Thomas Brunker, the foreman; Emil Brodelle, a draftsman; David Lindblom, a landscape gardener; and Ernest Weston, the son of the carpenter William Weston. Two victims survived —William Weston and draftsman Herb Fritz—and the elder Weston helped to put out the fire that almost completely consumed the residential wing of the house. Carlton, hiding in the unlit furnace, survived the fire but died in jail six weeks later. His wife Gertrude also survived, having escaped the burning building through the basement; she denied any knowledge of her husband’s actions. This entry is entirely too long for you to be reading whilst on a hunt, but one more fact I am compelled to raise: FLW rebuilt Taliesin and it burned down again in 1925 (to an electrical fire)! Talk about loyal to your land! 

POINTS: 45

The above is the 2nd of a two-part series, giving you examples of the funny bits of useless knowledge you pick up going on THATLous and THATMets and whathaveyous. The first part of the THATMet Teaser concerned FLW’s teacher, Savvy Mr Sully.
Poisson d'Avril ThatLou
01 February 2013
  • THATLou

Poisson d'Avril ThatLou



taken from the Louvre website


Poisson d’Avril is the French version of April Fool’s Day, where on the 1st of April French people will post fish on each others’ backs. In tribute to this, the theme for next Sunday’s THATLou (a part of the Sunday series) is… you guessed it: Fish + Water! Lucky you’re reading this, as it’s you may very well pick up some terrific bonus points… 

This “Still life with Carp” (creative name, no?) was painted by Abraham van Beyeren, a 17th Century Dutch master who’s niche was still lifes. He was a protege to Pieter de Putter. Though de Putter was a lesser painter, his name may be worth a THATLou goldmine —

It’s not guaranteed, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if for some hefty bonus points you just might be asked to write a limerick / haiku / rhyme about Pieter de Putter. These golden Carp could very well apply to the Animals in Art THATLou, or even the Food + Wine THATLou.

Oh yeah, and it’s not too late to sign up for the Poisson d’Avril Fish + Water THATLou, which is part of our Sunday Series open to the public. As we do the first Sunday of every month, we’re meeting at 2.30 on…. no joke… 1 April. Contact me now if you’d like to join a handful of veritable fisherman (among them Sasha Levensohn-Wahl, founder of Savoir Faire Paris, http://www.savoirfaireparis.com/)


Have I mustered your interest to put your Plume to Paper for Mr Pieter de Putter who just might have a Dutch stutter?
THATMet Teaser, Louis Sullivan
01 February 2013
  • Museum Musings,
  • THATLou

THATMet Teaser, Louis Sullivan



taken from the Met's website

Louis Henri SULLIVAN (1856-1924)

Chicago Stock Exchange Building Staircase, cast iron, walnut banister 1893

Louis Sully, as an old art history teacher used to lovingly call him, has been considered many things: The Father of the Skyscraper, the Grandfather of Modernism, the head honcho of the Prairie school. Mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright, Savvy Mr Sully is one of the “Recognised Trinity of American Architecture” along with Henry Hobson Richardson (think of that horrible Trinity Church in Boston, ‘Richardsonian Romanesque’) and Frank Lloyd Wright (who needs no reminders). Demolished in 1972, there’s a smattering of the glorious Chicago Stock Exchange here and there —  a stone arch in the garden of the Chicago Art Institute and this beautiful ironworked banistered stairwell at the Met. Staircases lend themselves to arty photography, especially when they’re as pretty as this one. An extra fifty points for the team whose photo is the artiest – we’ll vote by consensus at the bar together (you’re not allowed to vote for yourself).

POINTS: 35

This is a two-part series of THATMet teasers. The same type of clue is given for THATLou (as you’ve seen in the Veronese Teaser)…

In fact, something that sprouted from Savvy Mr Sully (who ran in a December THATMet) is an idea to hold a THATLou photo competition. Should anyone have suggestions, I’m all ears!
A Blogger's THATLou
01 February 2013
  • THATLou

A Blogger's THATLou

Well then, it does feel like an awfully long time since I’ve lingered on the Louvre, but I guess a week’s not so very long. This week I’ve been focusing on the Louvre from a different perspective – I’m very pleased to announce that this upcoming Friday, 23 March, we’re having our first blogger’s THATLou!

Kasia generously put me in touch with the blogging community in Paris and Forest Collins, of 52Martinis.com, is organizing the after-drinks where we’ll count up our score, have the THATLou prize-giving ceremony, and drink deconstructed martinis at her friend Christophe’s place, The Why bar, at 60, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau 75001. 52Martinis — a blog, a meetup group, a lifestyle — is Forest’s very well written, edgy review of various cocktail bars around the city which she and her crew scout out each Wednesday. Needless to say, I am pleased as punch to be co-hosting this THATLou with Kasia and Forest.

Without naming names of bloggers (as not everyone likes their nom de plumes unveiled!),  the following will partake in the fierce competition of this Friday’s THATLou:

www.loveinthecityoflights.com

www.52martinis.com

www.lamomparis.com  

www.outandaboutinparis.com

www.girlsguidetoparis.com

www.totallyfrenchedout.blogspot.com


And from this foray into the blogger’s THATLou two more THATLous have sprouted: a Kid’s Treasure Hunt, and a Parisian Entrepreneur’s THATLou.

So yes, I look forward to returning to focusing on the Louvre from a content point of view, but for the moment I’m happily out on the THATLou trail…. Let the games begin!
A THATLou Zoo of a Weekend
01 February 2013
  • THATLou

A THATLou Zoo of a Weekend

So my mind has been more of a zoo than usual:  I’ve been bouncing around ideas for different themes for the perfect Louvre treasure hunt. This weekend’s attack: Animals! I thought it only logical that one of our hunts should be more than just a chasse au tresor, that we should bring this thing back to a real HUNT… Though THATLou is a spot more urbane than muddied rubber boots and duck whistles, you’re more than welcome to sport your pith helmut.

We’ve got animals in all sizes, shapes and of course materials… Bronze, marble, terra cotta, oil, glass, lapis lazuli. We’ve got lions and tigers and bears… and then to touch on the more exotic there are African cranes, proud peacocks, fire-blowing dragons and kilins – ever hear of a kilin? (I hadn’t and had the fun of looking it up. The very reason THATMuse is such a joy for me is all the research involved – which is also why it takes me so long to write up each hunt). Then of course there are the down and out that can’t be overlooked, such as lice with a fine young fellow picking at them. Ok, ok, that’s enough of that. If I go on my whole hunt will be given away! So I best be off.

Since I can’t very well post any of the images from my zoo of a weekend I shall leave you with a refreshingly vibrant gallery front from the 6th Arrt.



All photos on this site, unless otherwise credited, are taken by the author.
A Tweeted THATLou Bonanza
15 January 2013
  • THATLou

A Tweeted THATLou Bonanza

The Blogger’s THATLou was a resounding success. The theme was Angels and Wings, allowing the clever Blog-Hunters to spend their night, pre-cocktail, prancing about with plump putti, flying off as fast as Mercury with those wings on his heels.

Among the most famous pieces at the Louvre is the Winged Victory of Samothrace (190 BC), who stood proudly at the ship’s prow and now stands proudly at the top of the grand Daru staircase. Originally she had her arm raised, with her hand cupped at the edge of her lips calling out her victory (that hand is now at the Kunsthistorischemuseum in Vienna). The sanctuary at Samothrace was consecrated to the Cabeiri, gods of fertility whose help was invoked to protect seafarers and to grant victory in war. To be able to photograph this Hellenistic gem without others in the shot was a THATLou Victory, with a promise for a post in and of itself (with perhaps a bit more lingering on the actual sculpture). Bloggers snaps of this attempt (with some excellent successes) will follow.

During the hunt I should have taken more (and better!) photos, but I was off contemplating the THATLou prizes — which ended up being colorful Louvre notepads and pens, a joke on how the plume-holding muscles in all of our hands are atrophying, what with all of our blogging and twittering, texting and overall virtual existences.

For now just a few snaps of the most excellent night taken from Twitter. First prize went to Melanie Vaz and Thibault Devillers, the only 2-person team. Second prize, for the team who tweeted the most, went to Emma Bentley, Karin Bates Prescott, Alisa Morov and Rachel.


Alisa, Rachel and Emma walking (and whistling) like an Egyptian


A Sweet Pea Paris oatmeal cookie, presented handsomely on the THATLou point page in the halls of the Louvre


Rachel, Alisa and Karin forsaking THATLou points for a break and a slug of wine no doubt, which Emma Bentley smuggled in for the hunt


Touch Down, the last tweet of THATLou Twitter winners Rachel, Karin, Alisa (and Emma taking and tweeting the shot)


Kristen, Mary Kay and Sylvia's team came in a close second with both tweets and THATLou score. Here's one of Kristen's shots among a sea of sculpture


A lovely shot tweeted from Mary Kay, Sylvia and Kristen's team (taken by Kristen)

Apologies for the small format of the following team touchdown photos… A technological cretin, I evidently don’t know how to use my phone.


Kasia, Giorgio and Camilla


Mary Kay, Sylvia and Kristen


Annie, Edna, Jennifer and Sam


Opal Taylor, VBM and Vera Baker's team

Melanie Vaz and Thibault Devillers, the 52Martini winning team

Congrats to all for making it such a fun night — Especially to those who picked up the hefty bonus points for reading this blog.

Please let me know if you’d like to join any future hunts, or if you have any special visitors who would enjoy a private THATMuse. 

THATLou Logo: Provenance Kasia Dietz
10 April 2013
  • THATLou,
  • Misc

THATLou Logo: Provenance Kasia Dietz

photo by Johann Guetta, of Jet Set Productions



This blog wouldn’t exist were it not for the encouragement of Kasia Dietz.  We were walking back from Gare du Nord, having seen off our friend Saad Iqbal. Saad had dropped by to see us for a long weekend to say hello before he toddled back out into the world, off to pick up his beautiful Columbian fiancee in London so they could have their multi-city weddings. I was telling Kasia about my treasure hunt endeavour when she suggested I start a blog about it. Doing what you love shines through, she said simply. She has that knack for making success seem seamless. Having moved here just three years ago to follow her now-husband, Kasia reinvented herself entirely. Leaving a successful career in advertising behind in NY, she came here without a word of French under her belt, started her blog (www.loveinthecityoflights.com), started Kasia Dietz Handbags (which within a year of starting the company were being sold at most haute of all department stores, Bon Marche), and boom within such a short span of time has been a super success, and super source of inspiration to those lucky enough to be near her.

So when Kasia started her bag-painting workshops at the Sugarplum Cake cafe last December I was among the first to sign up. After hearing great tales of the full pack of cigarettes her non-smoking lungs inhale when she goes to her material supplier’s in the Sentier, I wanted to see what she did. Not to mention to take a stab at making a THATLou logo — I don’t have a creative bone in my body, but I also don’t have a platform in which to try exercising my non-creative bones, so here was the perfect solution. What better place to do some logo-brainstorming than hyped-up on a delicious sugar high? You don’t just get the joy of creating your own wearable art at the Kasia Dietz workshop, you also reap the benefits of her carefully chosen workshop venue, the Sugarplum Cake cafe, (an adorable pastry shop in the 5th Arrt)?

Below are snaps from both that first bag-painting session, where the THATLou logo was born (which Marfa artist and high school friend Sam Schonzeit made into the proper logo. For a while we were calling it ‘clean, fat and green’ for the roundness of the Lou vowels), as well as the fruits of my most recent attempt to imprint my Louvre stamp on the Met, in the THATMet bag.



photo by Opal Taylor, Kasia's Brooklyn bag is among my faves


photo by Johann Guetta from Jet Set Productions, Stephanie (of La Belle in France) to the left, Kasia standing


photo by Opal Taylor, Kasia serving Sugarplum Cake's delicious carrot cake



Where will the "Nat" for a THATNat (NG in London) go for the next round?

None of this, not the bags, nor the logos, nor the blog would have come about without one clever New Yorker, Kasia Dietz. Thank you, my darling!
The Cross-Purpose Greek Pot
09 February 2014
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou – Skull Scouting,
  • THATLou - Food & Wine

The Cross-Purpose Greek Pot


The Louvre Greek and Roman Antiquities, from louvre.fr

Ok, enough horsing around here, we’re going to cut strait to the chase and give you a sample, a teaser, a piece of the hunt! Which THATLou, you ask? Well, the below morsel is particularly great because it could fit into any number of near-future hunts.

Meet the Cross-Purpose Greek Pot, a world-famous Dinos by the Gorgon Painter…

There are two THATLous that this Dinos would be perfect for

– as the previous Gorgon post discussed, the very word the Greeks gave these ghoulish creatures means Horrible or Terrible. Terribly appropriate for Beauty + the Bestiary THATLou. Bestiary has been touched on here and there in past blog posts with Darius the Great’s wonderful Frieze of Griffins, and those gentle protecting Lamassus).

– And where would you find a Dinos other than at a symposium (FEAST) that the Greeks lingered over endlessly (appropriate for Foodies in France who may just opt to see the Louvre from the perspective of Food + Wine)? Of course a Dinos fits in there perfectly, to ground the floating debauched bacchuses from flying about, perhaps a bit too much wine needs some water!

Anyway, enough chatter from me. Here’s your hint, take it and run for the THATLou prize!


Gorgon Painter Greek pot at louvre, taken from Eschatology.com 

ATTIC BLACK-FIGURE DINOS, by the GORGON PAINTER

Cerveteri (from Athens, Greece), Circa 580 BC

Clay, H 93cm


A Dinos was used to mix water and wine – and stood on a tall stand so the servants didn’t have to stoop during the long banquets that Dinoses were made for (The Greeks drank a lot of wine, but always diluted). This early Attic Dinos is of particular importance because it gave the Gorgon Painter his name – referring to the scene on one side of the pot with Perseus being chased by the Goggle-Eyed Gorgons, after he murdered their sister Medusa, shown collapsing after Perseus lobbed off her head: Death taking hold of her before our very eyes. Remember Medusa had turned all those who dared look in her eyes to stone. Perseus was clever enough (with Athena’s help) to approach her using the reflection of his shield like a rear-view mirror, thus avoiding his demise. The Gorgon Painter is one of the earliest masters of the Black Figure technique and a pioneer of the Attic tradition of figurative decoration on pottery. There is a convergence of influences on this Dinos – among the series of bands of friezes with alternating plant motifs and animals, including bestiary such as sphinxes and mermaids there are also male figures, a reference to the Oriental tradition of the Master of Animals.

POINTS: XXX (depends on the hunt)

Denon, lower ground floor, room 1 (in the “Pre-Classical Greek” section next to the Islamic collection)



Attic Black-Figured Dinos, by the Gorgon Painter, Louvre.fr This is the only vase by the Gorgon Painter – who was prolific – to depict a complex narrative, but also the first Attic vase to do so at all… Don’t nod off — this is interesting enough stuff folks, to merit some bonus points!

For a background on Athenian red and black-figure vase painting the Met has a thorough summary here. As for their shapes, Wikipedia has a wonderful collection of photographs with their names – which if you click on the names will of course lead you to their purpose. Click here for that visit.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Remember if things are in bold it may just mean they’ll help you out with bonus questions embedded in your treasure hunt… In other words, worth taking note of!
Medusa as Bestiary
07 June 2013
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou – Skull Scouting,
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul

Medusa as Bestiary



Caravaggio’s Medusa (1598, Uffizi, Firenze


Tomorrow night is the first of a two-part THATLou series hosting an international law firm. Having lawyers, accustomed to scrutinizing small print, go a-hunting excites me no end, especially when they’ll be after imaginary creatures like bestiary (for balance they’re also after beauty). Will they catch this hint? Is that one too obvious? What about this bonus question — too involved? I’ve had loads of fun considering it all. And as a free-be to these fine solicitors, I’m posting the most involved bonus question here on the night before. Ironically, given their trade, they probably won’t have time to read beforehand, so I guess it’s good they’re clever enough to think on their feet to write a limerick in honor of one element of either of the below tales, both attached to the below sample treasure (NB this is expanded text, no piece of treasure has more than 10 or 12 lines, as you don’t have enough time to digest more whilst out on the prowl): 



Géricault’s Raft of Medusa (1818-1819) Louvre 


THE RAFT OF MEDUSA

Théodore GÉRICAULT (Rouen, 1791 – Paris, 1824)

19th Century French, H 4.91 x W 7.16m (in other words “Grand Format”)

The ‘Hope of Rescue’ is how Géricault chose to paint this painting, which stands as an icon of Romanticism. The Medusawas the name of a French Royal Navy frigate that set sail in 1816 to colonize Senegal. With over 150 soldiers on board, when the ship wreck took place in the Atlantic, they had to build rafts due to a shortage of lifeboats (talk about health and safety!). Only 10 people survived the 13-day odyssey, and the stories of cannibalism and brutality which ensued caught the fascination of Géricault, as well as contemporary journalists and the general public alike. This French number is famous enough to be studied in any introductory Art History class (please note the composition of two pyramids), but it’s the news story behind it that captures the interest of the general public.

The frigate was named for Medusa, the frightening Greek mythological creature with poisonous snakes for hair (talk about Bestiary!). To name a frigate Medusa in and of itself is a strange choice. Poseidon, God of the Sea, had been madly in love with the Gorgon sister Medusa, but when she spurned his love, he turned both her and her two sisters into monsters with snake hair. Poseidon also placed her in total isolation, by cursing her with the conversation-stopper-quality of being turned to stone if you met her gaze!

Aided by Athena and Hermes, the mortal Perseus went to the end of the world (where Poseidon had exiled her) to challenge Medusa, who’d been making trouble. He cleverly used the reflection of his  shield to avert her gazeand protect himself. When he got close enough to behead her, a volcano of blood sprouted, and from each drop of blood sprang more horrible creatures – Pegasus (a winged horse) and Chrysaor (a winged giant boar) – who were believed to have been Medusa’s children with Poseidon. Bestiary spawn bestiary, of course!


Perseus with Medusa’s head, Piazza della Signoria, Firenze 

So here’s the give away: take an element of this fantastic story – be it 19th Century French frigate or Greek mythology – and spin it into a limerick, for muchos puntos. Now how’s that for impetus for thinking of the quickest rhyme for frigate? Perhaps mitigate? Go to it, Lawyers!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 

Caravaggio’s 1598 painting of Medusa (at top) is among the most famous images of her in art (rightly so!), and just down the street from where she lives at the Galleria degli Uffizi is this statue of Perseus, with poor Medusa’s brains dangling from her beheaded neck (his perfect frame is standing on her body). My mother always said that what I called dangling brains was in fact her hair, but I say pshah! What child doesn’t like gore – and that gore doesn’t look like snakes, does it? The story of Medusa is also covered in this Greek Dinos — a Greek pot measuring a meter in height and filled to the brim with diluted wine … My those Greeks liked to drink! Both of these pieces of treasure often appear in the same hunt and cross reference each other so to reinforce the story — perhaps highlighting what instrument allowed Perseus to get close enough to slice Medusa’s head off!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This Gericault Raft of Medusa is certainly a juicy number. Being such an iconic piece of French Romanticism (and Louvre “Greatest Hit”) I dare say it also appears in the Public Hunts “All Things Gaul” hunt held every Bastille Day (works only by Frenchmen) and in the Halloween Death hunt.

Here are lovely write ups of the first Halloween Hunt, one in Aussie in France the other in Colleen’s Paris. The former write up includes the following limerick (unfortunately I’m not at liberty to post any of the clever limericks the lawyers wrote due to client confidentiality)

Poseidon the god of the sea
Rarely took time for a pee, but
He pulled down his trunks
Screamed “you are all skunks”
And did it before all who could see

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Noted elsewhere in the blog, strictly speaking the term “Bestiary” covers Medieval European imaginary creatures such as Unicorns, Griffins, Dragons, etc. For the purposes of you seeing a broader expanse of the Louvre, however, the Beauty + Bestiary THATLou theme stretches the definition of Bestiary to Egyptian Sphinxes, Greek Centaurs and as you see here, the likes of half-human Gorgons.
Who's the King of Bastille Day?
14 September 2013
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

Who's the King of Bastille Day?


photo by Chirag D. Shah, found on Flickr

So who is the THATLou King of Bastille Day?

So Bastille Day is tomorrow. In America when you hear “Happy 4th (of July)” one thinks of the Liberty Bell in Philly, of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (men in wigs and tights, oh yeah!), a big middle finger to fat Georgie III and that small island across the Atlantic. Flags, picnics, parades. John Philip Sousa. The feelings are happy, independent, straight-forward. Simple. Much like Americans, perhaps. 

But I’m not sure everything is so cookie-cutter clean here (comme d’habitude, the French being the kings of the complicated color: Grey). First of all the very term Bastille Day is exclusively Anglo. Then these “Happys” or well wishing. Well. One (as in: one who is a foreigner who lives here and just doesn’t get it, such as me, I suppose) can say “Joyeux 14 juillet”, but the French often do a double-take when this is foisted on them.

I do most of my THATLou work at a café on Fbg St Denis called Quincaillerie and Damien, one of my favorite waiters there, told me it’s possible to say – as in, grammatically it’s not wrong. I asked him why and he said, “what’s happy about it?” Good point. The date in fact isn’t as clear, the 14th of July is just the beginning of a long struggle of the people. People without rights (“rights come later”, as Damien pointed out) got fed up and stormed the Bastille, a fortress. They had to fight for a remarkably bloody 4 more years, before any significant heads went toppling (literally). As for the complicated question of “rights” well, let’s leave that to Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

If I’d made this Bastille Day THATLou completely appropriate to France’s National day, I’d’ve confined the treasure exclusively to the period leading up to & following the revolution, but then our fine treasure hunters wouldn’t get to cover 40 to 50% of the Louvre, which is what they’ll be navigating tomorrow. Moreover, quite frankly the Revolution is a period of French history which bores me. It’s completely lacking in the charms of Henri IV’s lovers or Francois 1er’s Renaissance art commissions.

So to focus on la Fête Nationale, the theme for tomorrow’s hunt is “All Things Gaul, for those who have the gall” hunt. And who had more Gaulish Gall than King Philippe-Auguste?



At the ripe old age of 15 he inherited the throne (in 1180) and over the next 43 years expanded his territory considerably. He was the first of the great Capetian kings of medieval France & destroyed the English-based Angevin Empire which greatly extended his empire. For the first 10 years P-A made his mark on his capital in both good and bad ways (in 1186 he started having the streets paved (much earlier than I would have guessed), however, under his rule, the expulsion of the Jews was in 1182 — they were allowed to return only on condition that they pay a heavy tax in 1198).

But on a larger scale (which will of course bring us back to Paris) he had remarkable military prowess. In 1190 (aged 25, when his first wife died) he left for the crusades & within a year took control of the thorny terrain of Normandie (Richard the Lionheart had been made prisoner of Henri VI in 1194). Following the death of Richard, Philippe-Auguste continued to feud the new King of England, John (who invaded Normandie in 1202, as well as Touraine, Anjou and Poitou). By 1214 Philippe-Auguste had defeated John at the Battle of Bouvines (which was significant enough to force King John to have to sign the Magna Carta).



A page taken from a Cambridge manuscript. I found on a great history quiz site (where they acknowledge the French won) 

On the personal side he was far less decisive. After his first wife, Isabelle de Hainaut, died in 1190 he mistakenly married Ingeburg of Denmark. He tried to undo this mistake, with another perhaps larger mistake. The day after he married the sister of the Danish king he procured the annulment of his marriage by an assembly of bishops and turned around to marry Agnes de Marenie. A move which merited a quick excommunication from Pope Innocent III. By January 1200 Innocent III imposed an interdict on France, which forced Philippe-Auguste to pretend to be reconciled with Ingeburg (in fact he refused to live with her & kept his Danish mistake in semi-captivity. Only when Agnes died in 1213, did he accept Ingeburg as France’s queen (although still not by his side!).


photo taken by Sophie-G.net

In the meantime, tomorrow’s hunters may very well want their “give-away” (I can only get people to read this blog out of thatlou bribery, apart from those who my mother pays. Thank you, Momma), which was promised to them last weekend – so here you go, guys, this will be your bonus question: First find Philippe-Auguste’s conical structure photographed herewith (easy, as its outline is clearly delineated on the map and is the core of Sully, under the Cour Carrée). Apart from being asked to just take in the sheer SIZE of those boulders, you’re reminded that back in the day you’d be standing in water right now – you’re in a moat. So, for an extra 20 bonus points, please have your teammates pose as though they’re being eaten alive by an alligator, the last whisp of life being outside Philippe-Auguste’s formidable structure!

There you go, hunters, Just reading this post you’ve made XX points out (yes, that 20 I just highlighted, but there might be other tidbits that serve as bonus material, herewith!). Until then, have fun at the firemen balls and seeing the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower and not saying Happy Bastille Day!


Photo taken from Kid Culture

Another piece which may just appear in All Things Gaul is Géricault’s Raft of Medusa, as written about in Medusa as Bestiary.
Birding About at the Louvre
12 January 2015
  • THATLou – Angels & Wings,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul,
  • THATLou – Animals in Art

Birding About at the Louvre




The fact that this painting of a Crowned Crane, also known as the Royal Bird, was painted from life was revolutionary in the 17th Century. Before Pieter Boel (1622 – 1674) animals had mostly been painted from stuffed animals and for their emblems and allegories (Durer being an exception, he regularly painted from the real deal, too).

Boel apparently set up shop in the ménagerie at Versailles, where a small octagonal pavilion was surrounded by enclosures in which exotic and domestic animals were kept in semi-liberty. His paintings, which were nearly scientific, were then used by the tapestry manufacturer Gobelins; this crane, for instance appears in the foreground of the month of August in “The Months” tapestry (aka The Royal Houses). I, for one, prefer Boel’s fine plumage to that of the wall carpets (don’t you think of Persia for carpets?). But one
mustn’t quibble, tapestries are quintessential to France’s history, and as a Charles Le Brun painter (as the animal-expert), Boel played an important role in France. 



Gobelins, found in the 13th Arrt (at the metro station named after it), was Louis XIV’s royal tapestry factory. It was Henri IV (my favourite king, as he fought for his inherited crown for 20 odd years before he just pooped out and converted to Catholicism in order to rule France. As he said, “Paris is worth a mass”) who rented space in Gobelins for his Flemish tapestry makers — more than 200 of them, I believe.

Boel was born in Antwerp, though I’ve had trouble discerning whether the Louvre considers him Flemish or French — he died in Paris, and was a member of Charles le Brun’s team of painters for Gobelins; Although since Flanders was a part of Burgundy, I guess I history blurs the lines of distinguishing whether Boel was Flemish or French. His naturalist studies are all over the Richelieu wing of the Louvre (the most pleasant of the three wings, because it’s 80% less crowded than the Denon wing!) from 17th C France to 17th C Flanders, to adjoining stairwells where these fine parakeets can be found (“room 20” is actually at the top of a rather grand stairwell).



Ooops! Did I say that out loud? What if you go on one of the THATLous? This fine plumage could very well be in an Angels + Wings THATLou, or of course the Animals in Art. Not to mention the fact that Boel’s Versailles role & Gobelins contributions make him a fine candidate for All Things Gaul!  Anyway, to put THATLou and the Louvre aside for just a minute (they does seem to nose its way in everywhere!) both our Indian bull from yesterday’s post and these Flemish French flocks are fine renditions of naturalists paintings. From the Met to the Louvre, India to Versailles, these creatures seemed to prevail in the 17th Century.
Museum Musings at the Victoria and Albert
16 April 2014
  • Museum Musings,
  • THATLou

Museum Musings at the Victoria and Albert

Largest, Oldest, Most Famous. These adjectives catch my attention. Continuing on this thread of new Islamic art wings at major museums (the Louvre, The Met), we’ve crossed the channel to London’s Victoria and Albert. The centerpiece to the Jameel Gallery of Islamic art, which opened in July 2006, is just that: The largest, the oldest signed, and undoubtedly the most famous Persian carpet in the world. Behold the Ardabil Carpet.



When William Morris, an art referee for the museum at the time (and the grandfather of textile design), first saw the Ardabil carpet in 1893 he was smitten, describing it as “the most remarkable work of art … the design is of singular perfection …”, banging on in delirious delight. Morris didn’t know that it was one of a pair (the other of which is at LACMA in Los Angeles, and was at one point in JP Getty’s possession).



Measuring 10.51m x 5.34m (34.4 x 17.6 feet), it has over 26 million knots of silk and wool. The pair took more than 4 years to weave and were laid on the floor of the burial place of Shaikh Safi al-Din, the founder of the Safavid Dynasty. They were in the mosque of Arbadil (NW Persia) from 1539-40, when they were made on royal commission, till 1890 when they left Iran for England. The inscription of the weaver (who wasn’t really a slave, but probably using the word in humility)

I have no refuge in the world other than thy threshold.
There is no protection for my head other than this door.
The work of the slave of the threshold Maqsud of Kashan in the year 946 (Muslim calendar).



After years of having it hanging from the wall, the Jameel Gallery had it restored outdoors near Wales. A slanted platform was made for it to rest and fresh river water, which is low in minerals there apparently, washed it clean. For some reason this amazes me the most about the Ardabil carpet – that it wasn’t cleaned in a scientist’s restoration lab. It is no longer hanging, but flat, and the V&A have a high-tech non-reflective whoosiwhatsit suspended above it so to protect the 10 colours from damage. Every half hour a dim light is switched on to illuminate it. A precious flash to behold this singular perfection. 



The idea here is that the more you read of this THATMuse blog, the more likely you’ll be to find hints to existing THATMuse treasure… The more you read, the more you’ll win. This Ardabil carpet, however, is an exception. Not only would it be too easy to find in a THATVA, it is too fine to take photos of. Something sacred to even the THATMuse gods!

Except for the NY Times photo, all other photos were taken from the V&A.
Museum Musings at the Louvre
16 May 2014
  • Museum Musings,
  • THATLou

Museum Musings at the Louvre

So after this bout of considering the Near Eastern Antiquities (from the oldest piece at the Louvre, to huge gentle Lamassus, fearsome Persian griffins and big bulls), what’s more logical than to turn my attention to the Louvre’s imminent Islamic Art wing in the Visconti Wing? It’s been in the making for quite some time. Back when Chirac and his adorable nose were leading France, the NY Times ran a piece on one of the major donors to construct the new wing. Apparently Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal’s donation of million was the largest gift ever made to a museum. Though Prince Walid owns 17% of the not so successful Eurodisney, he also has several luxury hotels in Paris (among them the George V). More interesting to finance people, he’s also Citigroup’s largest single shareholder, so I suppose a million gift is a drop in the bucket. At the 2005 unveiling of the plans for the wing, the French gov’t pledged million, and Total, the French oil company, coughed up a measly .8 million. Anyway, pennies aside here’s the photo the Times ran:



For more than 25 years the Louvre has kept most of its 17,500 pieces of Islamic art, ranging from the 7th to the 19th Centuries, in storage. It has one the world’s most important collections of carpets, as well as Ottoman empire art.



So in 2003, when Chirac was pitting France against its Anglo allies (god bless him – and let’s not forget de Villepin for his delivery to the UN. Have just thrown in a snap of this silver fox for good measure. I hear pretty faces sell) in the debate over the war in Iraq, he ordered the opening of an Islamic Art Department.



Taken from Mario Bellini Architectes

Architects Mario Bellini (Italian) and Rudy Ricciotti (French) won the competition to create the 3,500 meter squared space in Denon’s Visconti Courtyard. The glass and steel structure is the most dramatic change to the Louvre’s neoclassical architecture since IM Pei’s pyramid entrance and inverted pyramid were unveiled in 1989 and 1993, respectively.


Taken from Waagner-Biro.at

The Guardian quoted Mario Bellini in 2008 as saying “the roof is only supported by eight very narrow tubes which are leaning and dancing together and which support the weight of the veil to the bottom of the foundations”, two levels below. Ricciotti has described the 150-ton structure as a “golden cloud”, a more diplomatic description than Bellini’s “headscarf blown in by the wind”, which he said when Sarkozy laid the first stone in July 2008. One does have to wonder if Bellini was taking a small stab at the French for outlawing Muslim headscarves in public schools with such a visceral description.



Published in L’Express.fr on 4 Jan 2012

The Louvre recently announced in a press release that the €98 million wing would open this summer, but Le Figaro reported that the Louvre still needs to raise €10 million. Previously the Visconti Cour was slated to open in 2009, 2010 and now this, so we’ll see. Whenever it does open, getting a glimpse of the nearly 18,000 pieces will be a treat.


Does this look like it’ll be completed in 5 or 6 months? Published in batiacu.com

In the coming days I might linger on new Islamic wings in other museums, such as the Met’s November 2011 unveiling of their 12,000 Islamic works or London’s V&A, which opened the Jameel Gallery recently. I’m straying a bit from THATMuse in these Museum Musing posts, and my training is based exclusively on Western Art (Baroque Roman architecture to be specific), but what fun to consider these Near Eastern treasures! Here’s an article on the Louvre’s Empty Quarter which I wrote for France Today.
Discovering the Oldest Piece at the Louvre
14 March 2013
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou – Skull Scouting

Discovering the Oldest Piece at the Louvre

Yesterday El Argentino and I went to the Louvre to nose about an area we’re both shamefully ignorant of – the near eastern antiquities. I probably couldn’t come up with one of Alexander the Great’s campaigns, and the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers (Mesopotamia, Sumer, Babylon, etc) is buried down deep in my memory. The last time (and first time) I really gave the dawn of civilisation a thought was probably in the 6th grade when we had to study the invention of the wheel, Gilgamesh and irrigation. This last one quite an abstract concept for pollution spouting city kids.

But those early folk, from Cyprians to the Levant in Palestine and Jordan, have provided me with some wonderful THATLou fodder – the Bestiary (fantasy animals, such as unicorns and griffins) THATLou that I’m working on now, especially. And El Argentino, a buff of all things Roman and Greek (be it a military campaign, tragedy, philosopher or amphora pot, he’s your man) feels like he needs to round out his education for when STORSH starts asking questions.

Over the next week I’ll feature a few of the Near Eastern treasures that we came across. And who knows, perhaps one of them just might pop up in one of the themed THATLous!



Meet Ain Ghazal. At 9000 years old, Ain is the earliest work that the Louvre has in its possession. And actually, Ain is only with the Louvre for 30 years. The Jordanians have generously lent him to the Louvre for 30 years (although I thought it was funny that some Louvre curator arrogantly mentioned that ‘this loan would be renewed by tacit agreement’).  32 of these cute little fellows were found in two separate pits, after a 600 meter road was built across the archeological dig.

From looking them up on Wikipedia, apparently some of these Neolithic people buried their dead under the floorboards in their homes (later pulling the skulls out), but most of their dead were just thrown in garbage pits where domestic waste was trashed… Throwing grampa in the trash, hmm… Rather detracts from the allure to these ‘cute little fellows’, don’t you think?
Lamassus at the Louvre
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders,
  • THATLou – Animals in Art

Lamassus at the Louvre

Continuing on the Louvre Near Eastern visit that El Argentino, STORSH and I took this weekend, I thought I’d introduce this rather endearing winged bull-man. Called a Lamassu (meaning “protective spirit” in Akkadian), he is one of a pair who was usually found flanking the doorways to Assyrian palaces. One of the things I find so clever about them is why they have five legs; If you look at them from straight on, they’re standing at attention, still. If you look at them from the side, they’re walking. The British Museum also has two Lamassus, one of which has some graffiti of the board game, the Royal Game of Ur scratched between two of their legs… Guards who were clearly stationed at the gates, idling the time away.

But back to the Khorsabad room in the Mesopotamian section of the Louvre: These guys are somehow comforting, or perhaps what’s comforting is the space they’re in. It smells earthy, I suppose of the gypseous alabaster they’re made of. With the grey-but-bright Paris light shedding in, there’s something intimate about the well-proportioned L-shaped room lined with Sargon’s treasures. And then there’s size. Our friends here stand at nearly 4 and a half meters tall, making me feel. Well. Very human. They’re from the palace of Sargon II, who reigned from 721 – 705 BC; it was square in shape with 158 towers & had a 24-meter thick wall encompassing 3 km². Nothing so piddling as our French Khorsabad room at the Louvre. But sadly we don’t have much of Sargon’s treasure left.



In the 1840s and 50s the palace, named Dur Sharrukin, was excavated by the French consul general to Mosul (yes, of Iraq), Monsieur Botta (and yes, his name is in bold — perhaps an answer to a bonus question?). Heart-breakingly two shipping incidents caused much of the excavations to go missing: one through the boat sinking and the other to pirates. They must have been strong pirates as two 30-ton statues went missing. 

I haven’t done much digging myself, but I do have to wonder why some Indiana Jones character hasn’t gone looking for the ruins at the bottom of the Tigris river, where the first ship sunk.



Anyway, this endearing Lamassu could appear in any number of THATLous. His strong, architecturally-necessary form makes him suitable for an Architecture + Structure hunt, and of course, the fact that he is neither animal nor man, but an imaginary compromise places him in the blurred line of Beauty + the Bestiary (fantasy animals, like unicorns) theme. Or, since two of their three components are animals, I bet they’re also in the Kid-Friendly Animals in Art theme (the purpose of which is to avoid crowds)? Lucky you’re reading this here, to get a leg up (or five!) on your THATLou adversaries!



And where do you suppose you’d find these gentle giants? In the Mesopotamian department (yellow on the map), not too far from the Near Eastern collection’s Ain Ghazal, the Oldest Piece at the Louvre or Ancient Iranian treasures like Darius the Great’s Frieze of Archers + Griffins who are just around the corner in the Sackler collection of the Sully Wing.
The Benetton of Near Eastern Art
19 June 2014
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders,
  • THATLou – Animals in Art

The Benetton of Near Eastern Art

Till our next visit to the Louvre, this will be my penultimate highlight concerning last weekend’s visit to the Near Eastern antiquities wing.  It’s been tricky to choose what to profile since El Argentino and I had so many surprises and discovered so many delights.

In choosing this third finale I hoped to find a thread which holds the three completely different pieces, from completely different places together. First we had our rather morbid friend, Ain Ghazal with his silent watchful eyes. He’s from the Levant (which describes both a culture and a geographical area between Egypt and Turkey, Iraq and the Mediterranean), but Ain really stands out, because at 9000 years old he’s the Louvre’s oldest piece. That’s pretty cool.  Then we had our adorable Assyrian Lamassus, curiously smiling down at us as they protected Sargon’s palace. Endearing and gentle, the Lamassus put proportion back in the idea of palace, with their monumental size. 

So with size and age for themes, I nominate Darius I’s winter palace at Susa.  Son of Cyrus, father of Xerxes, Darius I (522-486 BC) was the most successful of the Achaemenid kings. Under his rule the Persian Empire stretched from Greece to India. A melting pot of styles, Achaemenid art is defined by seemlessly combining many elements taken from different cultures. I guess one could think of it as the Benetton of Near Eastern Art. His palace at Susa (east of the Tigris River) celebrated all sorts of his victories, and not just through storytelling as his Greek contemporaries were painting on their pots, but through methods and materials as well.  Darius was big time and he wanted you to know it.  So big-time was he that this entry shall be two-fold, in my weak attempt to do his winter palace justice: art today, architecture to follow. 



King of the beasts, the lion figures an important role both royally and religiously.  A frieze of lions ran along the top of the wall in the first court Darius’s visitors entered. The provenance of the glazed siliceous bricks and its composition as a frieze is from older Mesopotamian traditions, found for instance in the 2nd millennium temple of Kara-indash in Uruk. The repetition of a symbolic animal was typical of Babylonian art, where its significance was more religious. Yet the clear knowledge of anatomy, and the attention to details such as his wavy mane was true to Achaemenid Persian art.  A little artistic UN, all in one palace. By 480 BC it was estimated that 50 million people lived in the Achaemenid Empire.



Sphinx in Darius the Great’s winter palace at Susa, Iran

Apart from these turquoise lions Jacques de Morgan, the archeologist leading the excavations from 1908 – 1913, found bas relief friezes of griffins and sphinxes, archers (with duck heads at the top of their bows) and immortals — among plenty of colossal double-headed columns which we’ll linger on in another post.



a Persian Griffin in the Sully wing of the Louvre

What does that mean for you? Well, a lot of THATMuse points if you know where on Sully’s ground floor (ground floor in French is RDC, Rez-de-Chaussée) to find them in the “Antique Iran” section that’s yellow on your Louvre maps… Oh here, you’re good enough to be reading this THATLou homework, these precious creatures are in Room 12 and 13! 

Apart from appearing in the Beauty + Bestiary (fantastical animals, such as unicorns, dragons and griffins, etc), Darius’s palace at Susa could certainly be pertinent to plenty of other THATLou themes – Kings + Leaders, Animals in Art, or even a possible Beauty + Bestiary… You never know!
Big Bulls of Antique Iran
10 December 2014
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders,
  • THATLou – Animals in Art

Big Bulls of Antique Iran

Going out with a bang, I’m concluding our visit to Darius the Great’s Winter Palace at Susa (which in turn sadly wraps up the Louvre Near Eastern musings which started with Ain Ghazal, the oldest piece at the Louvre) with something big! Nearly matching the Louvre’s gentle Lamassus in height, here’s one COLOSSAL capital.



This COLOSSAL capital alone is 4 meters tall, 1/3rd the size of the column that it topped.  Altogether the columns  – 36 columns to be exact* – in Darius’s Apadana (Audience Hall) were over 20 meters tall (meaning about 70 feet ceilings, I think).  The hall was 109 meters squared.  Just look at the size of the beams nestled between the two kneeling bulls: they’re unfathomably large. To help put it in context, El Argentino said that the bull’s eye would be looking straight into our kitchen window – we live on the 4th and final floor of a typical Parisian building dating to 1810. The trek up the 4 flights each day, my toddler Storsh in hand, make me all the more sensitive to such lofty height.



The variations of colour in the capital’s stone is due to the fact that it was reconstructed from fragments of several columns by Marcel Dieulafoy, the archeologist leading the 1884-1886 excavation. To demonstrate the unification of the different parts of Darius’s Persian Empire, influences were taken from all over. The stone masons were Greek and Lydian, and the architects Persian. The double volutes with rosettes was taken from the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, yet the pair of bull protomes are purely Mesopotamian, representing cosmic equilibrium. And let’s not forget Egypt, a significant part of his 50-million-person strong Achaemenid Empire – that basket-like ensemble of palm fronds are a reminder that the Egyptians had been peed on by Darius. Again, just one capital is a Benetton of sorts, a little UN-melting pot of cultures as described in the last post, which mentions which exact room these treasures can be found in… Helpful no?



Besides the bulls, those friezes from the last post may just be THATMuse-applicable! 


On the globe-trotting front, apparently one of these fine bulled capitals has found itself far far away – from Paris or Iran…  El Argentino is from the leafy hood of Palermo, Buenos Aires.  Our favourite part of the 3 de Febrero park, also known as the Bosques de Palermo (the woods of Palermo), is the Rose Garden. Though we’ve been to feed the ducks and picnic in the fragrant green plenty of times, I hadn’t noticed that they have one of these double-kneeling bulls perched in place, above a fluted column. This one is apparently from Darius’s father, Cyrus. In 1972 one of the Pahlavi Shahs gave the 102-ton column to Buenos Aires, for nuclear good-will no doubt (the Argentines had advanced nuclear technology in the 60s and 70s).  Anyway, how this behemoth passed my notice says heaps about how open my eyes are!



La Columna Persa, Parque 3 de Febrero, Buenos Aires


To close this Near Eastern Antiquities musing, I just wanted to say a word on Susa, the town where Darius chose to make his administrative capital and Winter Palace. Also known as Shushan, or in Greek Susiane, Susa shares the “oldest” element that Ain Ghazal opened our Near Eastern visit with:  Susa is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, starting in 4200 BC. There are also traces of a village there around 7000 BC. We think of Egyptian art as old, but the first traces of it were 2000 years later, in 5000 BC.



man standing in foreground for scale

Apart from making a star appearance as Bestiary (fantastical animals, such as unicorns, dragons and griffins, etc), Darius’s palace at Susa could certainly appear in plenty of other THATLous –  such as Animals in Art or Kings + Leaders, what with Darius’s reach (his empire stretched from India to Greece) as mentioned in the last post you never know!

All photos were taken from Wikipedia and Google and are in the open domain. 

* And yes, when things are in bold, often that means it’s going to answer a precious bonus question!
Louvre Icon, Venus de Milo
28 August 2014
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou - Love Hunt,
  • THATLou

Louvre Icon, Venus de Milo



Aphrodite, known as VENUS DE MILO 

Marble, H 2.02 meters

Island of Melos (Cyclades, Greece), 100 BC Statue


You can’t tell me you’re surprised we’re opening up the Love Hunt with the Goddess of Love, can you? A hands-down top ten Louvre Icon, just look on your map for her snap… 

The identity of the “Venus de Milo” is unknown, as her arms were never found, nor were any attributes. Because of her sensuality and semi-nudity, she’s often considered to be Venus (goddess of love), however, she could have very well been Amphitrite (Poseidon / Neptune’s wife originally, but sadly this goddess of the sea diminished in importance at different junctures of Olympian history). Amphitrite was worshipped on the Island of Melos (Milo), where this Louvre icon was found.

She originally wore jewellery (bracelet, earrings and a headband) of which only the fixation holes remain. Traits which were typical of the 5th C BC, such as the harmony of her face, her aloofness and impassivity, lead some Art Historians to believe she was a 100 BC replica. Likewise, her hairstyle and the delicate modelling of the flesh evoke the works of the 4th C sculptor Praxiteles. But there’s plenty that places her in the Hellenistic period (between 3rd – 1st C BC), such as the spiral composition of her body, the fact that she’s 3D, her small breasts, elongated body and most importantly the thin veneer of material draped from her hips and not quite covering the top of her butt crack. It’s not the cling wrap material of Nike of Samothrace.



Venus’s fixture holes photo taken from from Where is Ariadne? Blog




photo taken from “Where Is Ariadne?”

Whoever this mystery lady is, she’s gorgeous and her ‘top-ten attraction’ at the Louvre status is entirely understandable. If you’re sharp you’ll have earned another thirty points by telling us where Venus de Milo hid during WWII, as discussed in Just Do It … And another fifteen points each for 2 other treasures that hid with her — Not shabby on the bonus question front, eh?


As for the WWII Bonus answer: all of the following treasure was kept in hiding at the Château de Valençay: the lovely Venus, Michelangelo’s Dying Slaves, the Mona Lisa and Nike of Samothrace Every time I go up the Daru Staircase I think of the photo of Nike being evacuated from the Louvre’s Daru Staircase in 1939, as seen in the Nike blog post.

* The Louvre map has photos of six highlights per floor on their map. When it’s such a “greatest hit” (my joke term for these Louvre icons) those treasures are only worth 10 game points, as there’s no challenge to finding them. That is NOT TO SAY you don’t want to find these easy-to-find Icons, because you’ll be well rewarded with bonus questions, as you see above.

When things are in bold, usually that’s a hint that they refer to bonus questions…
Sick Puppies in Rome
12 October 2013
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

Sick Puppies in Rome

Emperor TIBERIUS, 2nd Emperor of Rome (14 – 37 AD)


Emperor Tiberius, this 6.8″ statues was found in Capri (where he’d retired from Rome)


Stepson of Augustus (first Emperor of Rome), Tiberius was an impressive military man, with several significant battles under his belt. He wasn’t, however, very well suited to civilian life in Rome, where his mother, Livia, insisted he stay toward the end of Augustus’s life (to ensure that he inherit the throne). To further secure this inheritance, Livia also had Augustus (never fond of his awkward stepson) force Tiberius to divorce his wife, whom he loved deeply, in order to marry Augustus’s adulterous – and fun – daughter, Julia. The marriage was a fiasco, however it served Livia’s purpose perfectly. Pliny the Elder named Tiberius the “Gloomiest of Men”.


Second emperor to the Julio-Claudian Roman Empire, Tiberius was a sick, corrupt, perverse man, and very fond of his equally sick, corrupt and perverse nephew, Caligula, who would inherit Tiberius’s throne. From Seneca to Suetonius, Caligula was a depraved, insane tyrant. The latter accused Caligula of incest with his sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Drusilla and Livilla and say he prostituted them to other men. Famously he also is said to have made his horse, Incitatus a consul and appointed him a priest.



Emperor Gaius Caligula, a sick puppy who reigned 37-41 AD. Louvre.fr

The Roman Empire, established just a few Emperors before, was going to hell, until the stammering, stuttering cripple, Claudius inherited the throne (the Praetorian guards named Claudius Emperor in 41 AD after Caligula’s assassination, as he was the last male adult of the Julio Claudian left). He proved to be an able leader, focusing on canals, aqueducts, bridges, balancing power back toward the Senate (after Tiberius and Caligula had purged much of Rome of a voice), and winning many provinces under his reign (Thrace, Pamphylia and beginning the conquest of Britain to name a few). Sadly for the Roman Empire, Claudius was married to another Sour Grape and was followed by nephew Nero (reigned 54 – 68 AD), who was yet another sick puppy. The last of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.


Emperor Claudius (reigned 41–54 AD), part of the Borghese Collection at the Louvre
The Basanite Babe
11 December 2013
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders,
  • THATLou - Food & Wine

The Basanite Babe



Livia Drusilla, standing marble sculpture as Ops, with wheat sheaf and cornucopia, 1st C BC, Louvre


Livia Drusilla, first Empress of Rome, was indisputably the most powerful woman in the Julio-Claudian Roman Empire. All Julio-Claudian emperors were her direct descendents, despite having a childless marriage to the 1st Emperor of Rome, Augustus (formerly Octavian Augustus, back when there was a triumvirate and Rome was a Republic). This marriage lasted 50 years and by all accounts was a partnership of two clever minds. Livia (58 BC – 29 AD) saw to it that her son Augustus’s step-son, inherited the throne. This, despite the fact that Augustus intended five others to inherit the throne (all of whom happened to die, some under rather suspicious conditions).



Basanite bust of Empress Livia (58 BC – 29 AD), Louvre


Because this bust is basanite (a volcanic rock), it’s believed to have been sculpted just after the Battle of Actium (2 September 31 BC), when Octavian Augustus seized Cleopatra’s kingdom (the loss of this naval battle caused Mark Anthony to commit suicide). This would have made Livia 27 years old, already an able leader just as cunning as her Egyptian counterpart, Queen Cleopatra. 

With senators on both sides of her family, Livia was not only the crème of the Roman aristocratic crop, she also had financial independence from Emperor Augustus (and from her former husband, the father of her two sons) through being granted the ‘marks of status’ in 35 AD, which was rarely granted to women. Soon thereafter she was also granted the sancrosancitas, which gave her the same rights Augustus had.

Tacitus described Livia as malevolent and called her a “feminine bully” and Robert Graves had a ball depicting her shrewd ambition in I, Claudius as the epitome of a scheming matriarch poisoning anyone who crossed her, and anyone who got in the path of her son Tiberius inheriting the throne (though Graves did a great service to widening our BBC knowledge of Roman History, he might have been slightly fictitious). But no one questioned the fact of either her cunning intelligence or her absolute power. Second only to her husband. The Julio-Claudian family tree can be slightly complicated with brothers and sisters marrying (Caligula, for one), but all of the Emperors stemmed from Livia. Tiberius (14-37 AD) was her son, Caligula (37-41 AD) her grandson, Claudius (41 – 54 AD) her grandson, Nero (54-68 AD) her great-grandson.

With so many anecdotes under her belt, Livia is a perfect candidate for plenty of THATLou Themes, from Kings + Leaders to Ladies au Louvre or seen as Ops holding wheat she could even be suitable for the Thanksgiving Food + Wine hunt. Wheat was free in Rome, which is perhaps why their bread is so delicious … 2000 years of practice with the forno certainly shows off! As for her Cornucopia, abounding with fruit, there’s another larger one found two rooms over in this Denon ground floor (Rez-de-Chausse, in French). 

Things in bold are sometimes references to bonus questions…
Leo's Contemporaries
03 February 2012
  • THATLou - Love Hunt,
  • THATLou

Leo's Contemporaries

Last time we wound our way from considering the Prado and Spain in the general, to zeroing in on a contemporary replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s  Mona Lisa. In our last post we shamelessly lingered on poor Leonardo’s sex life (with the weak excuse of saying “hey, the Prado La Gioconda may have been by this pupil / servant / lover, Andrea Salai, so we better delve into some sodomy charges, right?”).  In so doing we also trashed Leonardo to a small extent to say that THATLou prefers plenty of Leonardo’s contemporaries. In other words, we’ve really been all over the place, from Madrid to Paris, and through Leonardo’s boudoir. Now we aim to turn a slightly more positive note, one which isn’t quite so NY Post Page Six, or Hello!Magazine trashy. And we can also shake this ‘we‘ing. What, do we think we’re royal or something, with all this smut?

Let’s start with touching ever so briefly on some examples of masterpieces by Leonardo’s contemporaries. da Vinci studied in Verrocchio’s Florentine studio alongside Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticcelli, and one of my all time favourites, Domenico Ghirlandaio. I won’t examine any of these three painters in depth, just want to drop you off with some of their paintings herewith. And then our next post, concerning Andrea Salai, will be the conclusion to this round-about Prado Mona Lisa series. It’s timely to consider Salai, as his paintings may just become a spot more valuable if conservationists decide that the Prado’s La Gioconda was by his hand and not by Francesco Melzi.



Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1490, An Old Man and his Grandson, Louvre, taken from Wikipedia

My favourite painting at the Louvre by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – 1494) is constantly being lent out. I guess this is a tribute to how good it is, but I find it very annoying indeed when I find the flimsy little paper hand-scribbled by some curator apologising for the fact that it’s gone missing for another few months. It’s a great painting. Despite his grotesque nose, the Old Man’s look is so quiet and calming as he considers his grandson. You can nearly see him thinking.



Sandro Botticelli’s Venus and Three Graces, 1483-86, Louvre, taken from Wikipedia

Another Leonardo contemporary who I prefer is Sandro Botticelli (1445 – 1510). Though I didn’t include his Louvre Venus and Three Graces when I was considering various Three Graces in July (including the recently-discovered Three Graces by Cranach ‘s – which is just unsurpassable), I’ll take this complete non-sequitur as a chance to include it herewith. Couldn’t you picture this Venus and Three Graces in at least one THATLou? Perhaps a Ladies at the Louvre hunt, or better still the Love Hunt which is due to take place for couples and lovey-doves the evening of Friday 14 December? 


Pietro Perugino, St Sebastian, 1495, Louvre, taken from Wikipedia

Pietro Perugino (1446 – 1523). He’s a tricky one to choose a fave at the Louvre, because there are so many good ones. There’s always something tactile for me with Perugino. The paint is so smooth and the colors so uniform that he makes me want to stroke the canvas. Anyway, if I have to choose, I’ll go with his St Sebastian (which as a total aside, I was interested with how many St Sebastians we came across at both the Thyssen Bornemiszia, as well as the Prado. Do the Spanish have a thing for him, perhaps?).

After today’s segue-way of some top-tier Renaissance painters, the next post will take a step down (or back?) and worm its way back to the likely painter of the Prado’s version of La Gioconda – and will take a look at Andrea Salai’s paintings. That Little Devil!
Beauty
08 February 2013
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou - Love Hunt,
  • THATLou

Beauty



THE THREE GRACES


Roman copy of Greek 2nd Century BC Statue

Marble, H 1.19m (3ft, 10in) x W 85 cm (33 in)


The Graces, according to Seneca, stand for the 3-fold aspect of generosity the giving, receiving and returning of gifts of benefits. Three daughters of Zeus, some identified them as Beauty, Charm and Joy. Many myths had them presiding over banquets and gatherings, primarily to entertain and delight Zeus’s guests.  These are a Roman copy from the Imperial era (approximately 2nd Century AD), after a Hellenistic original from the 2nd Century BC. Nicolas Cordier (1565 – 1612) restored them in large part in 1609 for Cardinal Borghese (Did you catch that? It’s a thatlou hint… that this marvelous trio is a part of the Borghese collection). Napoleon acquired a considerable part of the Borghese collection in 1807 from his impoverished brother-in-law, Prince Camillo Borghese. 344 antiquities in total made their way from Italy to France. Yet another example of how a French monarch (don’t forget Francois Premier pulling over the Italian renaissance) reaped the benefits of Italian artistic talent — and Italian financial incapacity.

POINTS: XX


And remember during the hunt NO looking at the internet – so you may want to remember this Room 17, Ground Floor, Sully Wing address! And while I’m at giving Bonus Question hints away, who do you think is prettier, these Three Graces or the scandalous Paulina Borghese, Napoleon’s sister and Camillo’s wife?

All “treasure” per clue-manual have that up above in bold – the title, period, country of the piece, and when an artist is known, his/her name
.
Messalina- More Sour Grapes
21 June 2014
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou - Love Hunt,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

Messalina- More Sour Grapes

Part of the reason the Julio-Claudian family is tricky to follow is because of all of the interconnected (read: incest!) relationships. Roman Empress Valeria Messalina, known as just Messalina (12 – 48 AD), was the third wife to Emperor Claudius; a cripple with a stutter. 10 years his junior, she was cousin to her husband Claudius, as well as cousin to his predecessor, Emperor Caligula, as well as paternal cousin to Emperor Nero (to follow Claudius, and to be his step-son — as well as… you guessed it, cousin!). Lastly (to be listed, as the connections go on and on!) she was the great-grand-niece of First Emperor Augustus. All of them (Messalina, Claudius, Caligula and Nero) were descendants of Livia, 1st Empress or Rome. Incest aside, she was what one would consider a powerful woman – as well as being a lady of, let’s say ‘compromising morals’, and a conspiring lady at that (for which she would eventually be beheaded)



Messalina and Brittanicus at the Louvre, taken from Flickr, Dipity


Robert Graves depicts Emperor Claudius as adoring Messalina for her beauty and youth. Whether this is true or not, we don’t know, but she did bare him two children directly after they were married in 38 AD, Claudia Octavia (who would be the future empress when she married her stepbrother, Emperor Nero) and Brittanicus, who Messalina vied to be the emperor (but she wasn’t so clever as Livia getting her own son, Tiberius, to the throne).  But before Robert Graves, who was writing in the 1930s, we have Roman sources to turn to for the juicy stuff.



Nero (equestrian statue fragment) at the Louvre, Taken from Louvre.fr

Both Tacitus and Suetonius portrayed Messalina as lustful, insulting, disgraceful, cruel, avaricious, etc. They attributed this to her inbreeding. Pliny the Elder tells of Messalina’s 24-hour sex competition with a prostitute in Book X of his Natural History. And guess who won? Messalina, having bedded 25 more partners than the whore Scylla (you may want to take note of this tidbit in case it appears as a bonus point in one of the hunts).

Juvenal was shockingly graphic in his critical description of her brothel, when he described her in Satire VI. He said the minute Claudius was snoring Messalina would put on a blonde wig and go to work at her brothel for the pleasure of it (for PG status I can’t requote Juvenal’s graphic bits), nor can I post the 1527 engraving that Augostino Carracci did for the famous Renaissance erotic book, I Modi (“The Ways”), which depicts various sexual positions. The engraving depicts her in her brothel, entitled Messalina Lisisca, after Juvenal’s poem.

After she convinced her lover, Roman Senator Gaius Silius, to leave his wife Messalina and Gaius plotted to assassinate Claudius and have Gaius adopt Brittanicus (Messalina’s son by Claudius and the presumed future emperor). Claudius caught word of this, and had them both executed for treason. Messalina was offered a knife to commit suicide honourably, but as she was too cowardly for that, she was beheaded on the spot (in the Gardens of Lucullus, which are now a part of the Villa Borghese in Rome, right above the Spanish Steps).



Spanish Steps, taken from citypictures.net

With such a juicy story under her belt, there are many references to her in popular culture – from Charlotte Bronte (in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester refers to his first wife as an Indian Messalina) to Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in Love in the Time of Cholera, a dog with many pups bears her name). In Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and the Margarita, Messalina is a guest at Satan’s ball. 



Cuckolded Claudius took necessary measures with his beloved wife; photo taken at the Louvre, from histoire-fr.com


Flexible morals aside, the lady was venally powerful. That is, until she lost her head! Messalina fits perfectly for a Kings + Leaders THATLou, or of course a Ladies at the Louvre THATLou… Perhaps even the Love Hunt might include her – in the carnal sense… Is this hint obvious enough???