Showing posts with label louvre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label louvre. Show all posts

January 5, 2014

Postcard from Paris: ARCA Lecturer Judge Arthur Tompkins on artworks on display with history of theft

Robert-Fluery's 'Last Days of Corinth', Musée d'Orsay
This post begins a four-part series written last autumn during New Zealander's Judge Tompkins sojourn to present papers at an Interpol DNA conference in Lyon. Consider it a warm-up to the ARCA blog traveling to Paris next week.

By Judge Arthur Tompkins

Friday morning the 1st of November, my first day in Paris on this trip, dawned under leaden skies drizzly rain and a cold-ish breeze. Undaunted, and drawing inspiration from the Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris, in which the character Gil, played by Owen Wilson, enthuses, “Can you picture how drop dead gorgeous this city is in the rain?”, I set out on a carefully chosen Velib bike from the stand up the street, for an early morning ride around central Paris, in search both of nostalgic sights, and coffee.

My route took me across to and up the middle of Il St Louis, over to Il de la Cite (where there is a huge temporary grandstand in front of Notre Dame, apparently part of the 850 year anniversary commemorations of the cathedral – but it does somewhat spoil one of the great views in Paris, that of a deserted front of Notre Dame as the sun rises), and then across to the Left Bank and along the riverside.

My progress was punctuated by a horn being sounded and an admonitory gallic finger being waved at me by the uniformed driver of a police van, full of what looked liked dishevelled revellers who had crossed paths with the police that night and were being driven into the Conciergerie – although not to the same ultimate fate as an earlier sometime resident of that forbidding police station, Marie-Antoinette, I hoped – as I thought about, but did not, cross a pedestrian crossing on my bike against a red light right in front of his van.

I also managed two very satisfactory coffee stops, in corner cafes that were sleepily opening up in advance of the morning’s onslaught of workers and tourists.

Vincent van Gogh's "Portrait of Dr. Gachet"
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
I had decided to visit the Musée d'Orsay and then in the afternoon I planned to head to the Louvre. The former was achieved after a 30 minute wait in line, in the drizzly rain, and was as rewarding as ever. An unexpected highlight was turning a corner and coming face to face with Robert-Fluery’s ‘Last Days of Corinth’ – which my students from this year will undoubtedly remember that I used in my Art Crime course when discussing Rome’s sack of Corinth in 149BC, and also two in particular of the many Van Goghs. The first was a self-portrait sold by the Nazis in 1939 at the notorious degenerate art auction held at the Fischer Gallery in Switzerland; the second a version of the infamous Portrait of Dr Gachet, acquired by Goering and traded by him to a dealer in Amsterdam, from where it eventually ended up being purchased by a Japanese industrialist [the Musée d'Orsay's Portrait of Dr. Gachet entered the state collection in 1949].

After lunch, a drizzly walk across the Tuileries Gardens, with a small detour to pay homage to Rose Valland’s memorial plaque on the corner of the Jeu de Paume, took me to the Louvre. The vast queue at the main entrance was avoided by buying my ticket in the hidden-away Tabac store in the nearby underground shopping centre, and then using the priority entry lane, and a lovely three hours followed.  Huge crowds were, as always, overlooking the largest stolen painting on public display anywhere in the world – Veronese’s "The Wedding at Cana" – by concentrating on the Mona Lisa on the opposite wall, and also largely ignoring the other da Vinci paintings in the Grand Gallery nearby, including his John the Baptist, supposedly da Vinci’s last painting, which was acquired by King Charles I but then sold to the French by Cromwell’s Commonwealth after Charles was executed.

My time in the Louvre was also marked by an entertaining vignette, which took place in front of Uccello’s Battle of Romano – one of three paintings that make up the series, the other two being in the Uffizi and London’s National Gallery. Seated on the bench in front of the painting, an American man was talking loudly and long on his cellphone, discussing for all to hear, and in some detail, the structuring of an investment “opportunity”, whilst his wife sat next to him, a look of increasing annoyance on her face, her body language speaking volumes of the way in which her husband was ruining the much-anticipated (by her) and expensive (to him, no doubt) visit to the Louvre.  My guess is they had words later …

I also hunted out the Louvre’s two Vermeers, the Lacemaker and the Astronomer. The latter, reputedly Hitler’s favourite painting, was looted by the Nazis after the occupation of Paris from the Rothschilds and hung in the Jeu de Paume for inspected there by Herman Goering, but ultimately sent to Germany and intended as the centrepiece of Hitler’s Linz Museum. In the latter part of the war, after the Normandy landings, it was stored in the Aut Ausee saltmine, and rescued from there by American troops, as a result of the work done by the Monuments Men.

April 12, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013 - ,, No comments

Louvre's one-day protest to procure help against threat of pickpockets follows strikes in 2009 and 1999 against reduction in staff

The Louvre reopened on Thursday after a one-day strike by museum security protesting the problem of pickpockets by children entering the museum for free.

Police will now join security staff in combatting the problem of relieving tourists of cash, according to museum officials.

In December 2009, employees of France's Culture of Ministry closed monuments such as Louvre, Museé d'Orsay, and Versailles Palace in a strike protesting the government's plan 'to replace only one out of every two retiring civil servants, which they say will cripple French museums'.

In 1999, French museums closed due to strikes. Marlise Simons for The New York Times reported on the situation then:
The main demand of the strikers, all employees of the Culture Ministry, is that they want the Government to hire more people and create at least 1,000 new jobs. They particularly want more security guards, whose numbers, the strikers contend, have not swelled to match the ever-growing stream of visitors. Strikers also demand that the Government end the system of hiring people on temporary contracts and instead offer permanent jobs.
On Friday, hundreds of frustrated tourists milled around near I. M. Pei's glass pyramid that gives access to the Louvre. Instead of a ticket to the museum, visitors got pamphlets from striking workers, explaining their grievances. They did not get much sympathy. A family from Sydney, Australia, said that seeing the Louvre's great collections from ancient Egypt and Greece would have been the highlight of their trip to Paris.

April 10, 2013

Louvre closed due to "exceptional circumstances"

Paris' Louvre at night (Photo by CR Sezgin)
The Louvre's website pops up a message today:
Due to exceptional circumstances, the Louvre museum is currently closed. We apologize for the inconvenience and will keep you informed when the museum opens again.
The New York Times' Arts Beat blog reported:

PARIS –The Louvre museum was shut on Wednesday after 200 guards and surveillance agents went on strike to protest the growing number of often violent pickpockets who prey on them and tourists. 
“For more than a year, pickpockets have come here every day,” Thierry Choquet, a member of the main union at the Louvre, said. “They threaten guards by telling them that they know where they live.” 
The pickpockets are often minors from Eastern and Central Europe, Mr. Choquet said, who “buy entry tickets, threaten agents and attack tourists.” 
On Wednesday the museum’s management said that it would beef up security forces at the Louvre, which usually attracts between 25,000 and 30,000 visitors a day at this time of year.
BBC News quoted sources as saying that the pickpockets included children.

The Guardian reported that earlier efforts had failed:
The museum said in a statement that pickpocketing was a growing problem despite measures taken last year, including tighter co-operation with the police and temporary bans on people already identified as pickpockets from re-entering the museum. Late last year, the Louvre filed an official complaint to the state prosecutor over visitors falling victim to the thieves.
The Telegraph reported how it's done:
Many of the thieves are children who get into the museum for free and then start asking people for money. 
“Do you speak English?” is their usual opening gambit, and then they surround victims, helping themselves to money and possessions.
And the difficulty in resolving the problem of the 'children of Romanian immigrants (France's Interior Minister)':
“The children are tough and very well organised,” said one member of [Louvre] staff. “They stop at nothing to get what they want, and work in gangs.
“We can only do so much, but arrests are usually impossible because of their young age. If they are kicked out, they return the next day. They are very aggressive towards staff, putting people in danger of attack.”

December 27, 2012

November 19, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Fall 2012: "The Sword in the Museum: On Whether La Vallette's Sword and Dagger, Currently Housed in the Louvre, Should be Returned to Malta" by Mario Buhagiar

In the Fall 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Mario Buhagiar writes on "The Sword in the Museum: On Whether La Valette's Sword and Dagger, Currently Housed in the Louvre, Should be Returned to Malta":
The debate about the spoils of war and national heritage is always an intense one.  Whenever I ask somebody whether a recognized objet d'art which used to be in a country's possession out to be returned to its first home, I always get a resounding 'yes.'  In Malta's case, the most popular objet d'art in question is La Valette's sword.  Together with its matching dagger, the sword was a gift from Philippe II of Spain in 1565 to The Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of Malta at the time, Jean Parisot De La Valette (active 1557-1568), marking the Knights of Malta's victory in the Great siege and the subsequent retreat of the Ottoman forces.(1) The set of weapons remained in the Order's possession for more than two hundred years after the death of the Grand Master, who first received it on the Order's behalf.  This sword was later taken by Napoleon's forces when they invaded Malta, and is now on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Mario Buhagiar is a professor and head of the History of Art Department at the University of Malta.

March 13, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Fall 2011: Diane Joy Charney reviews Terence M. Russell's "The Discovery of Egypt: Vivant Denon's Travels with Napoleon's Army" and Denon's erotic novel "No Tomorrow"

In the Fall 2011 Issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Diane Joy Charney reviews Terence M. Russell's The Discovery of Egypt: Vivant Denon's Travels with Napoleon's Army (Sutton Publishing Limited, 2005) and Viviant Denon's No Tomorrow (Translated from the French Point de Lendemain by Lydia Davis with an introduction by Peter Brooks, New York Review Books, 2009):
Does the name “Denon” ring a bell? Perhaps it would if you are the sort of Louvre visitor who has gazed up at the inscription “Pavillon Denon” on the Louvre’s façade, or who notices, en route to the “Mona Lisa,” to “The Winged Victory of Samothrace,” and to Michelangelo’s Slave sculptures, that you are walking in the museum’s “Denon Wing”. Or maybe you are a connaisseur of erotic literature who knows about the new dual-language edition of “No Tomorrow,” a work attributed to Denon that has recently garnered attention in literary circles. Just who could this chameleon-like Denon fellow be? 
Known as “Napoleon’s Eye,” as well as a lover of the Empress Josephine and eventual director of the Louvre, Denon was a man of many talents. Writer, artist, collector, adventurer, archeologist, tastemaker, and charming courtier, he could metamorphose into whatever role was required of him. 
Readers of Terence Russell’s scholarly, authoritative text will get to know the colorful Denon as an intrepid artist able to sketch rapidly under fire who was selected to accompany the French troops on their Egyptian campaign. In addition to his drawing skills, however, Denon paints with his words keen observations about the land and culture he encounters. Denon’s illustrated record of what he saw in Egypt is here made available to the non-speaker of French, through Russell’s well-chosen quotes and drawings. Russell’s paraphrasing and commentary, although sometimes more dry than Denon’s own words, add a necessary framework to the story. 
It is thanks to Denon that so many Egyptian artifacts made it safely to Paris, where as a result of his efforts, the wonders of Ancient Egypt began to be known and appreciated. Without Denon, today’s Louvre would not be the treasure house that it is. To those interested in art crime, however, there is another facet to Denon’s far-reaching influence and collecting style. 
As an immensely likeable master courtier, Denon was able to put a positive spin on what amounted to Napoleon’s looting of the art of countries where he waged war. Under Bonaparte, the appropriation of art became standard policy. In praising Napoleon for his heroic efforts to “conserve” great art in the face of “the torment of war,” Denon lauds a policy that would later be copied by Hitler, whose wholesale confiscation of art was touted as an effort to “protect” it. 
Now how does the reader put together the Denon who drew for sixteen hours straight through eyelids bleeding from the windblown sand, with the author of the 30-page erotic classic, “No Tomorrow,” which according to one reader, should be next to “titillating” in the dictionary? Although Denon was known to have talent for pornographic art, it may be quite a leap from that to authoring what Good Reads calls “one of the masterpieces of eighteenth-century literature, a book to set beside Laclos’ ‘Les Liasons Dangereuses.’”
Diane Joy Charney teaches French Literature at Yale University, where she is also Tutor-in-Writing and the Mellon Forum Fellow of Timothy Dwight College.

You may read the entire review by purchasing a subscription to The Journal of Art Crime.

August 21, 2011

"The thefts of the Mona Lisa: On Stealing the World's Most Famous Painting" by Noah Charney

One the 100th anniversary of the theft of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa from the Louvre, ARCA and Noah Charney have published a new book, "The thefts of the Mona Lisa: on stealing the world's most famous painting". You may find more information about the theft and the book on "100th Anniversary of the Mona Lisa Theft" and in a piece written by Noah in The Los Angeles Times.

Update: Marking the 50th anniversary of the theft of Goya's "The Duke of Wellington", you may find Noah Charney's article on the front page of here.  Mark Durney, author of the blog Art Theft Central, provides a historical review of thefts from the Louvre, some of which you may not have heard about!

March 18, 2011

Paris Diary: Mexico's Plea for UNESCO to Provide International Leadership on the 1970 Convention for Countries to Work Together to Stop the Trafficking of Illicit Cultural Objects and the Destruction of Archaeological Sites... and Revisiting Paris' Most Celebrated Stolen Art, the Mona Lisa

PARIS - Thursday morning I walked to Les Deux Magots for breakfast before heading to Le Carrousel du Louvre to purchase a 4-day museum pass. Upon arrival at the St. Germain café, I recognized Dr. Jorge Antonio Sánchez Cordero Davila, director of the Mexican Center for Uniform Law, engaged in serious conversation with two distinguished men. After indulging in a Provançal omelette, I passed them again, still talking, but this time I re-introduced myself. Dr. Sánchez-Cordero, an expert on the panels at the two-day UNESCO meeting on the 1970 Convention anniversary, immediately stood as did his companions and after his customary warm greeting and introduction to his companions (in French), then returned to English to emphasize that Mexico had been impassioned in it's plea to UNESCO to establish a leadership role on the 1970 convention. Further posts here will elaborate on his specific intent but one of the points made at the conference by another expert was that UNESCO's staff of one on the 1970 convention could not be effective by itself. Participants had almost all agreed that communication between countries, the ratification of the agreement by another 73 countries (only 120 of 193 signatories have ratified it), and subsequent awareness and training on the ways to implement ways to stop the trafficking and looting of cultural objects would require more than one UNESCO staff member.

While not everyone ignores Veronese's The Wedding at Cana, many people are just waiting to see The Mona Lisa

The crowd in front of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is continuous and slow as so many people want to be photographed with this centuries old celebrity.

Three paintings by Titien are on the other side of the wall of 'La Joconde'
In 1911, a former workman walked out of the Louvre with Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, an artwork that had been owned by France since François I had purchased it after the artist had died at his court. The two-year search for the painting resulted in the fame the painting now has today. Even in March, hordes of visitors cram into one room to view 'La Jaconde' even while paintings by Titien on the other side of the wall and a wall-seize canvas of The Wedding at Cana by Veronese remain relatively ignored.

March 14, 2011

"The Louvre: A Golden Prison" produced by Lucy Jarvis and NBC News in the 1960s hints at the plain sight hiding location of a large painting during the Nazi Occupation of Paris

Lucy Jarvis (Paley Center)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

During my almost sleepless flight to Paris last night, I watched again a charming video downloaded for free from iTunes: an NBC News produced one-hour show on the Louvre, narrated by Charles Boyer and produced by Lucy Jarvis titled "The Louvre: A Golden Prison" (1964). The Paley Center for Media writes this about the film:
"Jarvis next produced a dual tour of the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., Museum Without Walls, which aired on NBC in 1963. The logistically complex project—among the first to utilize telecommunications satellite technology—served as a forerunner to a more detailed exploration of the Louvre that Jarvis had in mind. The previous year she had accompanied Kennedy on a state visit to Paris and it was there, during a social event, that she had first broached the idea of a documentary about the hallowed institution to French President Charles de Gaulle and Minister of Culture André Malraux. In a feat comparable to getting approval to shoot inside the Kremlin, Jarvis finagled permission to bring a camera crew into the Louvre; when the museum’s curators expressed concern that the intense lights required to gain a proper exposure (for the sake of aesthetic, the film was shot in color on 35mm rather than the customary black and white 16mm) might damage their treasured paintings, Jarvis reassured them by saying, “If Khrushchev trusted me, why can’t you?” The color cinematography was an important element for Jarvis; indeed, General Sarnoff, chairman of NBC, the parent company of RCA, credited her programs on the Kremlin and the Louvre with helping to sell four million color television sets. The Louvre: A Golden Prison, airing in 1964, was recognized with a staggering number of awards, among them six Emmys, a Peabody, and a Radio-TV Critics Award. In 1968, Jarvis became the first woman—and one of the few Americans—ever to receive the French government’s prestigious Chevalière de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres."
In her introduction, Madame Jarvis speaks about how the curators emptied the Louvre prior to Nazi occupation of Paris. Yet one large painting, too big to move outside of the city, hung from the ceiling of a restaurant while Nazis dined below until the end of the war. What is the painting she is referring to? I would tell you but I don't recall in the video that they ever named the painting. I am wondering if one of our readers knows the answer.