While there is alot of Louis around, my favorite must be Bernini's bust of the Sun King. Not only can Bernini really work some marble, but I really prefer my drapery to be described as "gravity-defying." I have long desired to see this particular bust, as Bernini is not only fairly awesome in general, but I have always found this bust to be especially spectacular.
|17th-century big hair.|
|Big, giant, bronze thingy.|
As nice as it is seeing things that I've researched, like many academic dropouts, I strongly prefer teaching to researching, so I get perhaps the most excitement from seeing things that I have taught. Teaching the same objects for years means that you acquire a deep and intimate familiarity with them, even though you have often never actually seen them in person. My experience coming across such a work for the first time is often characterized by a feeling of profound recognition mixed with the strangeness and wonder that something so familiar could also feel so new. There is a gap between the image of something and the thing itself, and the experience in that gap is always interesting, and often very beautiful.
|The famous Galerie des Glaces. Here, glaces means mirrors, not ice cream.|
Actually traversing the palace and grounds of Versailles has made the palace more clear and legible in my mind than I could ever accomplish with any amount of images and texts. Before, Versailles has always felt rather difficult to teach. Architecture is often tricky, and particularly when it is so incredibly vast. As a result, I end up just showing a couple of semi-random images, and saying something like, "MAN they had some serious money. So they got guillotined. Let's move on to that, shall we?" (Note that this version also discards the entire 18th century, which has been known to happen in my version of French art history).
There were alot of reasons to overthrow the French monarchy, the egregiously expensive palace being just one of them, but the thing that brought it home for me was not the ostentation of the palace, but rather the charming little hamlet Marie-Antoinette built for herself in the late 18th century. A fun little art historical tidbit is that Marie-Antoinette got so tired and bored of royal life, that she would leave the court for a bit in order to go play shepherdess.
|Where Marie-Antoinette went to relax.|
|French sheep in the "country" side.|