It would be rare that any of the eight million annual visitors to this universal site of Paris overlook the encounter with the “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo Da Vinci but when this does happen, it is clearly down to naivety.
It feels like a fever of Gioconda, as so many people shudder at people who barely touching down on Parisian soil feel the desire to ascend the Eiffel Tower and touch the moon. I mention “The Marriage at Cana”, without going into details, and nobody listens.
I have a friend who, upon arriving at the City of Light said, almost trembling, “I want to go to the Eiffel Tower and just take lots of pictures.”
I explained that unless an almost impossible natural disaster or unforeseeable accident occurs momentarily, the Grande Dame of the Seine would not budge from his place and would remain standing as it has for its’ already 122 years of existence.
Everything is fun. In addition to this we can say at this point that I am a connoisseur of the Louvre, as I must admit I have never been able to avoid the encounter with the “Mona Lisa”, even if you tried to explain that the Pavilion Richelieu is another wonder.
According to Denon, in the extensive tour of the Louvre, the area of which is of course the crowning work of Da Vinci, its colossal empire, as it is worth reiterating, exhibits only 35,000 of 675,000 works of art jealously stored in its vaults.
It’s an enormous journey, but anxiety about the lady with the enigmatic smile is a hot topic, a glimpse of the imposing Victory of Samothrace and a visit to the Apollo room, where tableware and crown jewels lie which receive praise.
Still he rushes over to follow the signs to the Mona Lisa sacrosanct. It is hardly worth pointing out that, in the monumental hall of Italian paintings are other works of Da Vinci.
Paitings dazzle on display such as “The Virgin of the Rocks”, “Portrait of Isabella d’Este,” “Santa Ana”, “The Virgin and Child with the Lamb”, “Bacchus,” “The Annunciation”, “Portrait of a Lady” and “San Juan Bautista.” “The Last Supper,” the oil of Dan Brown’s tricks in The Da Vinci Code is in Milan.
Finally the crowd enters another room where the presence of the “Mona Lisa” is revealed. Protected by thick bulletproof glass and a mandatory public separation of three meters, it is hit by camera flashes every day.
Surprisingly however, many people turn their backs right in front of the work of Da Vinci: “The Marriage of Cana,” the miracle of Jesus next to his mother Mary when he ordered water to fill six pots of stone.
According to John’s Gospel, this was the first sign of the miracles of Jesus turning water into wine and there is an impressive picture by Paolo Caliari, the “Veronese” (1528-1588), which measures 994 inches wide by 677 inches high.
Myths of Cana
Considered one of the greatest exponents of Venetian mannerism, the Veronese was proud of the techniques of Titian and Tintoretto, so the Louvre in 2009 offered a thematic exhibition of the three authors and their rivalries.
Although in the time of this era painters were devoted to religious passages, Veronese, as it is known, achieved notoriety for pictures of Mars, Venus and Adonis.
In any case, “The Wedding at Cana” constituted the ultimate challenge. A 34-year-old won the contract for a painting, intended for the Benedictine convent of San Giorgio, the event in Galilee.
They paid him 324 ducats, a barrel of wine and maintenance. It took 15 months to complete it, obviously with the help of his brother Benedetto Caliari and initially stayed in its place for 235 years.
Later it formed part of the pickings of Napoleon Bonaparte during his campaign in Italy in 1797 and, although at various times in history even as late as the 1990’s, one tried to restore it, it survives as a protective image of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.
Critics stressed that while representing Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Apostles in the celebration sit in a more Venetian pagan revelry instead of a religious way.
It was also ensured that the Veronese was included in “The Marriage at Cana” with Titian, Tintoretto and Bassano at his side. Behind Jesus Christ appears the sacrifice of a lamb, a symbol of the Messiah’s future, as well as a small hourglass that represents the passage through life.
A few meters away is another unique painting, The Coronation of Napoleon and Josephine in Notre Dame by the French neoclassical, Jacques-Louis David, which measures 629×979 cm and was created between 1805 and 1808.
(Translated by Amanda Flanaghan)