Saturday, July 12, 2008

Smiling since 1506


Is she the most admired woman of all times? Well, if you consider the number of people who were willing to kill in order to take a photo of her portrait at the Louvre today (look closely at the reflexion!), I think the answer is definitely yes! And the craze did not start yesterday... But since 1506, as soon as Leonardo da Vinci completed the painting, then later at Versailles, where king Louis the XIVth installed it and, of course later, at the Louvre where it's been sitting since 1804 (with a little interruption due to a theft, between August 21, 1911 and December 10, 1913!). Anyway, even if Monalisa's smile is in every guidebooks and schoolbooks of the planet, seeing it for real is still very moving...

72 comments:

  1. Wonderful! Mona Lisa is a classic.

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  2. Reminds me of trying to see the Birth of Venus at the Uffizi - I never got this clear of a view. Splendid that you could bring her to us on PDP!

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  3. Actually I can't believe that it took me 3 years to show her to you ;)

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  4. The quality of the photo really sucks though, but it was a nightmare taking it ;)

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  5. fadfpejnp aapjfe ap3-jrte Mona fa89tg///.8*5& Lisa...GFFFFF!!! Ah, schucks! missed ag884^48Hain!

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  6. Art is life.

    I cried the first time I saw a Picasso, and always when I visit Seurat's tiny Eiffel Tower (Eiffel Tower! Eiffel Tower!!) in San Francisco, which I do often.

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  7. Seriously Eric, it is great to see the lady is still smiling or smirking after all these years. Imagine if she could talk...all the tales she could tell. I guess she has got to be one of the greatest "secret keepers" in the world if you think about it. Okay...now I'm just rambling. Good weekend, Eric!

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  8. But the great thing about thios photo Eric IS the detail of the people reflected in it!!!

    Great catch!

    I agree, it´s a big thrill to see it in person.

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  9. There is a great children's book called "Katie and the Mona Lisa," wherein Katie crawls inside the frame and has a little adventure with the grand dame herself. I recommend it along with all of the other books where Katie is crawling into frames in galleries.

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  10. So tough to get a good photo since there is a big sheet of some protective-reflective-glasspane- to-hermetically-seal-her-in right in front of her. Not to mention all the people with cameras pushing and shoving for the shot. You did exceptionally well, Eric. Mine turned out horrible, but I got it.

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  11. I think I see you Eric - the gentleman with the very big, ahem, lens? At her left elbow?

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  12. I agree, Monica. The reflection tells this tale of Paris.

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  13. But the painting is so tiny! That was a shock!!

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  14. uselaine, I think you found him!

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  15. And if I understand Coltrane correctly, I am the second to congratulate you on GF, Suzy!

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  16. Eric, I'm surprised that you were able to get so close to Mona. The crowds are usually so thick that it's not easy to get a close up photo. Good job!

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  17. I am so surprised you are allowed to take photos of such works of art. Van Gogh's Chair would be top of my list to photograph, but no London gallery would allow this. Shame. The refelected people viewing one of the most familiar images worldwide has given it a unique perspective. As Mo in London would say it's seeing in through "fresh eyes."

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  18. Most of the museums in Paris allow photos as long as you do not use a flash. It's always a good idea to ask one of the guards.

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  19. When my daughter and I went to the Louvre last March, we were there just after the museum opened and went to see the Mona Lisa first. There was no crowd at all. When we were there, pictures of the Mona Lisa and a few other displays were forbidden, though I saw people taking them anyway.

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  20. I count about ten cameras in Eric's photo including Eric (located on Mona's left arm at the elbow?)

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  21. I love the way the reflected people really blend into the painting. Thanks for battling the crowds to get this shot Eric!

    GF congrats Suzy! And how is it possible that I've never heard of "Katie and the Mona Lisa" and related books???

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  22. First: Happy birthday Monica!!!!!

    Then, I like this picture, it's amazing to see so much people, you included, fighting to take a picture of a painting..!
    I studied 2 years at L'Ecole du Louvre and NEVER paid a visit to her. It was a bet. I won. Hehe.

    I leave you for few days since I'll spend the next two weeks in Tokyo (life's hard).

    Tall Gary, don't stay away from your computer, remember that you will probably rescue me if I'm lost (in translation).

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  23. This is hard to photograph and you did a great job. The reflections make the painting look otherwordly and do not detract at all - adds another dimension. And there you are too! This is better than Where's Waldo.

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  24. *never paid her a visit* better?
    Nite nite!

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  25. Guille...safe trip to Tokyo. Coincidentally, I have been on the phone for a couple of weeks talking to American host families for my Japanese High School group (14 total) from Tokyo that will arrive here on July 20th and stay thru August 2nd. I've still one to place. At the end of their stay, I always find myself bowing to people. ;-)

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  26. How could I forget...Happy Birthday Monica! Go figure, my sister Theresa's birthday is also July 12th.

    Also, congrats Suzy Suzy Suzy on GF!!! :-)

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  27. Today is my sister's birthday too! She is turning 40! Happy Birthday, Monica! I hope you have a most wonderful day!

    A great shot Eric, and much better than the one I took! The people reflected are oh so handso...I mean interesting. Somebody else mentioned being surprised at the size. I remember thinking that when I first saw it in person too! Now, for contrast, you need to get the big David(?) of Napoleon.

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  28. You know, Eric, the colors of that shot actually work very well with your blog template! And personally, I like that it isn't a clear shot, it makes it more interesting.

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  29. Hey, Monica -- coltrane beat me to it (although it IS still the 11th on this side of the pond). Anyway, hope you have a very Happy Birthday!!

    Eric -- this is a classic. You obviously worked for this shot, and you nailed it!

    Guille -- have a great time in Tokyo.

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  30. kelly -- for contrast, how about the painting this lovely lady looks at all day long? -- Veronese's Marriage Feast at Cana (which lots of people never turn around and see, so focused are they on La Giaconda).
    BTW, last time I saw her (in 2005), picture taking was strictly interdit.

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  31. Mona Lisa comes in many forms. Here's quite a different looking woman with the mystic smile.

    More Mona!

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  32. Wonderful Photo.

    I am curious though--have they always allowed photos to be taken of her? I visited last year and was chastised very harshly by a guard for trying to take a photo (non-flash). A man in front of me got his camera knocked out of his hand by one, so I got the impression that tourists weren't allowed to take pictures....

    I enjoy the blog every day!!
    td

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  33. Fantastic photo, Eric. I love that you captured everyone in the reflection. I think it says a great deal about the world's fascination with this painting.

    When I first visited the Louvre in 1976 the Mona Lisa was in a different place. I was able to get quite close to the painting. I was a kid. I was unimpressed.

    When I was there two years ago, my friends hurried through the Louvre past great treasures just to see her. I stopped at a gorgeous, dark Da Vinci painting in the hallway outside the room where La Joconde now hangs. Most people pass it by. The Mona Lisa is a beautiful painting. But the Louvre holds many treasures equally as great.

    Later, as we approached the Winged Victory, I was so struck by it I reacted physically. It made me weep and I can't tell you why. It's as though it touched me on a cellular level. I've never felt so strongly about another work of art.

    Happy birthday, Monica!

    Have fun in Tokyo, Guille!

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  34. It's fascinating to see the reflections of the admirers with their cameras against the darkness of her dress. They almost look like part of the painting, as if she traveled through time and gathered them up...

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  35. She is still lovely after all these years. I love how you can see all the other photographers in the shot!

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  36. I too love how the reflected photographers add a uniqueness to your photo - I wonder how many of the other photographs will get viewed as often as yours.

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  37. Like she's been walking through etherial fields of blooming humanity, sweeping up into her arms a huge, overflowing bouquet of incorporeal admirers.

    Could there possibly be a more apt photograph clearly showing both Mona Lisa's beauty and her social position in the 21st century world? This photo is a phenomenon in itself.

    Happy Birthday Monica! (and a very late wish of the same in retrospect to Coltrane).

    Guille: 東京の旅行を楽しんで下さい。Have fun on your Tokyo sojourn (like you need me to tell you something that will happen automatically). If you get lost wait until you see a most attractive person, walk up to them and say, 「すみません。何とかはどこですか。英語かフランス語を喋れますか。助けって下さい。お願いします」。Or rather, say anything, French, English, Japanese, Portuguese... You might make a friend.

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  38. I absolutely loved this shot. Ms m bested anything I could say, as she expressed what I felt.
    Petrea, you make me want to visit the Louvre more than ever...

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  39. You're allowed to take photos in the Louvre?

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  40. I'm gonna give a different point of view here.
    I think it is a shame that so many people take a picture of La Gioconda like it is a mere piece of art. What I mean is that people just to try to get the best picture possible and then go away happy to have a "souvenir" of the masterpiece.
    And this security distance won't allow you to look closely at it fully, though I understand that it's necessary because of the insane crowd. :D
    But it is impossible to see the details, the paintstrokes, the texture... (sigh)

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  41. yes, you are allowed to take picture. :)
    it had been forbidden for a few months. But it is ok to take pictures since last year.
    Without flash.

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  42. I remember once reading a book where the character sat on a seat in front of the Mona Lisa painting, at the Louvre, contemplating her smile.

    It wasn't until I went to see it for the first time that I realised that the author either had never been to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa or she was writing fantasy not fiction.

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  43. The best thing about the crowds admiring Mona is that there are no crowds looking at Da Vinci's Madonna of the Rocks or utterly sublime John The Baptist, or the magnifient Caravaggio Fortune Teller II, just around the corner in the long gallery. Most 'pilgrims' hurry past far more splendid, or equally splendid, works in their hurry to "do" Mona. Really I wonder why most of them bother paying the 11Euros. The reproductions in the wonderful Louvre shops are very good.

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  44. PS - Babooshka - I don't think there are any "No Photography" signs in the National Gallery in London. Not that I saw last week, anyway!

    But it's a stupid pursuit imho. Unlesss you have a tripod and good lens` and optimal lighting, the postcard you can buy in the museum shop is always better than any amateur snap. Eric's photo tells us more about the iconic status thru the reflection than an actual snap of the photo ever would!

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  45. Seeing Mona Lisa smile through your eyes is moving in itself. I do adore the reflections of people with cameras, but mostly, I adore the fact that across the internet, from across the world, her smile is moving enough to make me feel as if I'm actually looking at her as a person in front of me. Another wonderful piece, Eric. Thanks for brightening my world, over here on the Great Plains of South Dakota.

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  46. Happy Birthday Monica!!!

    That's it, the next time I'm at my Art Museum trying to get a picture of an artworks name because I haven't got a pen and paper to write it down and some guard comes around saying, "Excuse me miss, you can't take pictures in here," I'm gonna be all like, "The Louvre lets you take pictures of the Mona Lisa. The Louvre lets you take pictures of the Mona Lisa. Hello? 'Thaddeus Burr' here isn't anywhere near as valuable!!!"

    I personally would love to see some of the Louvre's other amazing treasures, too. Though Mona is beautiful there is more beauty to be seen!

    That being said, thank you Eric! I'm sure it wasn't fun being jostled by all that crowd.

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  47. As always great work Eric! I really like the photo and how you were able to capture the reflection of the many people trying to look at her.

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  48. Oh it is, it is moving! I don't remember being allowed to take photos. It's a wonderful painting and i'm so glad you captured the photographers' reflection for us!

    I was always surprised how small the painting actually is by the way.

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  49. So Eric, I guess, you had this idea to pay a visit to Mona Lisa yesterday, at lunch time. Am I right?
    A very cool idea, anyway... and you can be proud of your photo!! I love it. Smiling with her, smiling with you too.

    Did you hear her whispering to you : "I was waiting for you ; lucky I am to see you in real!".

    Moving...

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  50. Monica, Happy Birthday!
    Guille, bonnes vacances japonaises.

    NB : I am not sure that we see Eric in the reflexion. He might have stayed a bit further than the others photographers. Perhaps hold his camera up over them and used the zoom. Always cleverer than others, as we know!! ;)

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  51. Hey Tall Gary is back! Where have you been amigo?

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  52. What a fantastic photo of THE painting.
    And it is funny to see the crowd in the reflection. It looks like The Louvre was a nightmare. I would love to come there, just once, out of opening hours.

    Yes it is very moving to see art in real. It's very emotional to suddenly stand in front of the real canvas and see the real artists brushstrokes.

    My favourite Danish artist is P.S. Krøyer 1851-1909, and the first time I saw his paintings in real, I cried too.
    It's a funny thing...

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  53. Petrea, I had the same reaction to Winged Victory too the first time. The museum was nearly empty, and I was all alone on the stairwell.

    Alexa, a very good choice for contrast.

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  54. I love seeing all those cameras aimed at her. Thanks for getting in there with the pack like a great reporter!

    Petrea and Kelly, I recall my interest was with the crowd dynamics in front of the Mona Lisa rather than with the painting, so I snapped shots of upraised cellphone and camera view screens with her image on them. I was surprised that seemingly no one was near Winged Victory, and seeing her in that dramatic setting is a treasured experience. As was our experience riding bicycles through the courtyards of the Louvre late one autumn night and, glancing to my left, seeing Venus di Milo's lovely head very clearly through an illuminated window as I rode past. Amazing.
    -Kim
    Seattle Daily Photo

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  55. As you know, my 14-year old daughter & I visited Europe for the first time in June and although we experienced many wonderous things, one of the highlights of the trip for me personally was the Mona Lisa.

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  56. Thank you for sharing Mona with us, Eric. You really go above and beyond for the sake of your readers and we thank you for it! Once again, you have gotten an incredible shot for us!!


    Guille: Have a wonderful trip to Tokyo!!

    Monica: Happy Birthday!!

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  57. Tall Gary said: "Could there possibly be a more apt photograph clearly showing both Mona Lisa's beauty and her social position in the 21st century world? This photo is a phenomenon in itself."

    Eric, I can't imagine saying it better than Tall Gary did. And by the way, you got much closer and procured a better view for me than I could get in person; that's for sure! When I was there in 1991, she seemed to be in such a dark, enclosed space. Between that and the fact that she was surrounded by throngs of people, I could barely see her. Did you take this photo without a flash? Thank you for bringing it to us.

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  58. Oh, and joyeux anniversaire, Monica!
    Bon voyage, Guille!
    And Suzy, I love the Katie books, too!

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  59. This is late in the day for this but for any one who is near Atlanta in the US there are some treasures on loan from the Louvre at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S.- until Sept. 7, 2008.
    Eric I LOVE your photo-the reflections of the people looking- it's wonderful!

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  60. Sally: so true.

    The Louvre really isn't a zoo, just the crowds around the famous bits. It's a vast, magnificent palace filled with stunning art. The Louis-Davids can almost knock you flat, and you can be alone with them at times.

    Kelly, the first time I saw Winged Victory I was a teenager with a 102-degree fever and my recollection is so fuzzy I keep it to myself. But it was wonderful!

    Kim, I love your story of the Venus de Milo.

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  61. Coltrane "good weekend, Eric!" Thnak you, you know it's Bastille day on Monday, so we have a long weekend...

    Monica "But the great thing about thios photo Eric IS the detail of the people reflected in it!!!" I agree ;)) and so do Uselaine, Tomate...

    Uselaine "I think I see you Eric - the gentleman with the very big, ahem, lens?" Well I don't think you can see me, but I like the description ;))

    David "The crowds are usually so thick that it's not easy to get a close up photo. " Tell me about it. Especially at this time of the year!!

    Babooshka "I am so surprised you are allowed to take photos of such works of art." Well it's not always been so. And it's still highly controversial... Read what Kaycie said; last March it was not allowed nor was it in 2005 when ALexa was there.

    Bon voyage Guille. Tokyo. Wow, that's really cool ;) Try to connect once and let us know how it goes.
    Laurie ;)

    Laurie Keller "Thanks for brightening my world, over here on the Great Plains of South Dakota." You are so welcome

    Parisian heart. I too enjoyed Tall Gary's comment "Could there possibly be a more apt photograph clearly showing both Mona Lisa's beauty and her social position in the 21st century world? This photo is a phenomenon in itself."

    And last but not least: "BON ANNIVERSAIRE MONICA!"

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  62. Actually, I was very disappointed when i got to see the painting back in 1994...
    I expected it to be bigger in size ;-)

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  63. Thank you Eric and thank you all!!!!!!!!

    I´m extremely late to thank you all for the happy b´day wishes but that´s because I have no internet at home nowadays. So it´s really hard sometimes to get near a computer. But I´m very touched by all your warm wishes and I wish I could have celebrated it with you!!!

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  64. I'm a big fan of Paris and your blog, but I don't comment much. Here I have to say that I really for the life of me can't understand why anyone would want to take a picture of a painting! There is no way in the world one could convey its beauty and artistry. Or is it just to boast and prove that they were there?

    This one is interesting because of the reflection of the dozens of crazy people who don't even bother to stop and *look* at her but just fight to catch a photo. Incredible. When I was there I just wanted to admire her but it was impossible with all the elbows knocking me around :-(

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  65. Eric - this is an interesting photo. I made my one trip to the Louvre about 45 minutes before closing time. The first thing I saw was the Mona Lisa and I was surprised at her smallness. I went racing up the stairs and was stopped in my tracks by the Winged Victory. Had a similar reaction as Petrea's. I have a museum replica of it in my apt. I rushed through several rooms ahead of the guards who were closing. Always have regretted not having made more time for the museum.

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  66. Hi! I LOVE your blog, but have never commented - until today! I didn't read through the many responses, but I wondered something...last June we were fortunate enough to visit Paris and see her - however they were not allowing anyone to take photos. Did that change recently? Or was it just temporary, and our bad luck/timing??

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