Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Louvre and Versailles - Ceiling Art

How often do you expect to find art on the ceiling? In the medieval churches and also in museums and art galleries, be aware that art is everywhere. This is especially evident in Paris.

In the Louvre galleries. . .

Louvre Museum, Ceiling Art, Paris, by DG Hudson

Gilded molding and a variety of painted scenes in ceilings are used to create certain effects. Art distracts the eye and reduces a high ceiling; the visual warmth of the gilding and recessed lighting complements the marble of the walls as well as the sculptures. The example shown above is from a main gallery at the Louvre Museum.


In the corners of embellished walls and ceilings. . .

Louvre Museum, Corner Art, Paris, by DG Hudson

In an upper corner of the Louvre ceiling, an elaborate wall sculpture with royal insignia, and deep windows surrounded by painting above and in between. This viewpoint is on a lower level. Art sculptures compete for floor space, hanging frames provide a window on other times, and above our heads, art fit for a king.


At the Palace of Versailles. . .

At Versailles, the palace of the Sun King, Louis XIV, painting and gilt embellishment decorate a curved painted ceiling with a filigree design. A scaffold would be needed to get a closer look.

Versailles Ceiling Art by DG Hudson


Which way is Up?

The angle of this next photo may be disorienting, as it looks upward. Versailles surprises the visitor with its beautiful craftmanship, its opulence, and its grand scale. Much of the ceiling art is restored one square inch at a time when repair is needed. Maintenance of the estate is funded by tours and occasional art displays.

Versailles - Private chambers ceiling and wall, by DG Hudson


And in this Corner. . .

Art covers many architectural devices in this ceiling at Versailles, such as curves, medallions, and edging patterns. The total effect is a feast for the eyes, but it drained much of the French treasury to decorate this estate. Wise minds prevailed when Versailles was restored to its original glory. Such places bring history alive and remind those who govern that the treasury is for the country and its people, as well as the king or rulers.

Versailles Ceiling Detail, by DG Hudson

Each small section is a finished work of art which can be seen in the closeup below.

Versailles, Closeup Ceiling detail by DG Hudson
Restoring Versailles and the Louvre to their former grandness is an effort that is celebrated by those who love art and history. Keeping history intact and preserving art and architecture is something the modern world still needs to remember. Don't destroy heritage for modern sleekness. There's no joy of discovery of the fine detail when all you've got is a smooth surface that reflects. The cost of creating equivalent buildings or art works today would be prohibitive.
Some of the photos had to be lightened to see the detail. These upper areas of castles can appear dim when you are on location. Lights near art works are usually minimal for preservation purposes.
Have you seen ceiling art in museums, galleries or churches? What do you think of art on the ceiling? Do you mind looking up to see? Would you want to see it up close? Even on a scaffold?
Please share in the comments and thanks for dropping by! This arty moment brought to you by DG.  Good luck to all NANO-ers if you happen to stop by.