In Paris, there are places where even locals do not tread. On the second floor of the Louvre's Richelieu Wing, a discreet painting catches your eye. A woman's body, an enthralling and mysterious darkness, a tender look of sensuality and sadness. Here is Bathsheba at Her Bath by Rembrandt. Visitors stroll by the painting without seeing it. Although not well known, it reveals the Dutch master's full talent. The look on Bathsheba's face emphasises her dilemma: the biblical character in the Old Testament's Second Book of Samuel was courted by King David while still married. Her feelings are shown in a way that is rarely seen in Rembrandt's work.
Next up are the sumptuous Napoleon III Apartments. Who knew the Louvre was hiding this breathtaking decor? It is absolutely worth the detour. These luxurious rooms are the emperor's political legacy, reflecting the stamp he left on the Louvre. Here, visitors are blinded by the gilded details and impressed by the immense deep red curtains, while the three-seat indiscrets are an invitation to an intimate chat. Opulence and warmth strike an elegant balance.
As you go back downstairs, your steps will take you towards the Near Eastern Antiquities. Do not be fooled by the seeming restraint of Gudea's garments. This prince, who built the Mesopotamian kingdom of Lagash, left his mark in the third century BC by building and restoring temples. Around you, a dozen diorite statutes of him create a sort of hall of mirrors of ancient history.
Nearby, you will walk by Marly Court, but another, more solitary spot will draw you in. Dozens of statutes from centuries past stand in the Puget Court below a sparkling glass ceiling. The gaze of Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, intrigues you. Her features can be found in Madame de Pompadour as Friendship, and the great dame of the Enlightenment is portrayed simply, without the ostentatiousness of Versailles. Her arms are bare, her dress simple. As you observe her hand on her breast, you can almost hear her heart beat. And another extraordinary facet of the Louvre is revealed...
Musée du Louvre
Rue de Rivoli
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