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Mantegna - Musée du Louvre

Inside the Mantegna magnificent exhibition of Louvre Museum, do not miss the small print from the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Among the holy martyrs, the gods of virtue and heroic triumphs, it is of simplicity and truth daunting. This is a Virgin known as "humility", composed around 1490 with the art of chisel and blade of steel on copper as the master of Mantua may be invented. Madonna, without any embroidery or jewelry, is sitting on the floor and not on his throne of glory. The greenhouse in its bosom worried her child. The brooding plays against plays as if she did not want to abandon it to its fate. And if history would repeat itself, seems to say Mantegna ... These two people seem so close to us that was added halo around their heads for the subsequent tests, so that we understand that it is the Virgin and Christ. We see that we're here in the heart of the Renaissance, when humanism is required. The Virgin becomes wife, a baby Jesus. The quattrocento bouil column at the University of Padua, factory think of Venice. That some time that Petrarch sent Averroes in the darkness what does not yet called the Middle Ages. And in his suite, scientists and enlightened princes now get their lights directly to Greco-Roman sources. Aesthetically, the Gothic and died soon triumph of the so-called modern way, that of Raphael, Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci, "says Dominique Thiebaut, the cocommissaire of exposure, with Giovanni Agosti, of University of Milan. Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), the first king of the Renaissance, more funds for gold, up to atmospheric skies, the background rigorous ever deeper, with peasants and workers indifferent to what happens before, for a large painting that emerges. "It pictore primo del mondo" ( "the greatest painter the world"), as the Cardinal d'Amboise, then triumph with its sacred scenes filled - for the first time - ruins, columns, sculptures, the entire repertoire of 'Antiquity mythifiée. It surprised not only by this scholarly but also audaces formal miles. Dizzying effects of perspective, striking trompe l'oeil, viewpoints novel (if you can not move frescoes ducal palace of Mantua and its famous ceiling of the House of spouses, break illusionist to the heavens, it regrets the absence of Christ death of the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, incredible shortcut, considered too fragile to be moved).  The work of Mantegna placed in context, since alongside other contemporary artists, the Louvre proves that the son of obscure carpenter was well, since its 16 years on the cutting edge of research initiated by Paolo Uccello, Andrea del Castagno, Filippo Lippi and especially by the sculptor Donatello. Simultaneously, we take the measure of the Flemish influence in Italy this avant-garde. It reads in the expressive faces and the extreme delicacy of the bill, which allows the artist to imitate nature down to the tiny gravel. This shakes detail, both in workshops in the Italian palace. Starting with the Duke of Mantua Ludovic Gonzague which reserves the slightest leaf falling from the hands of the master. And even beyond the Alps where the future Francis I is seeking a work at any price. But if the author of the famous Louvre Saint Sebastian (the glass and frame were removed for the occasion) subjugated in its time and subjugate always - from Rubens to Giacometti through Poussin, Degas or Proust, the list of admirers is not close - is above all by this freedom and inventiveness that are the hallmark of great poets. For Mantegna meditates constantly, leaving his works everywhere in the footsteps of his thoughts and musings. Life abounds in these cities and its countryside represented on the horizon with the attention of the illuminator in a crystalline air still, still light years sfumato of Leonardo. "We look on without tiring representations of the background, more appealing than the parade of great figures at the forefront," says Giovanni Agosti in his penetrating essay Story of Mantegna (see box). Dives therefore with delight in these miniature universe, the most incongruous curious add appendices to the main speeches, parasites sometimes comical morality until, just as the Italian cinema of the 1950s. Scamp is curant the teeth of a finger after a sand chewed, while at his side the Child Jesus has been circumcised. Strange anthropomorphic figures pointing in the generous clouds of heaven. Pretty pearls on the chest of Pegasus. Sautillants rabbits and bees buzzing, to be unconscious at the time of Prayer in the Garden of Olives. Nearby, also in the predella of the San Zeno altarpiece held exceptionally in the central composition, that of the Crucifixion, we see that the sandal (ressemelée) of Legionnaire playing dice is painted with the same concern for accuracy that the net flowing blood on the Cross. Was this helpful? Renaissance here reveals the existence of a profane world that has its own life, modest, independent of the sacred ideal.  This fantasy underlying explodes in place prodigious prints hallucinations bacchanals and fighting sea monsters. Albrecht Dürer is now far the baroque either.

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