Yep that’s me.  And that’s the Mona Lisa.  And this is a little tale of how I spent some time with her.

It starts with a trip to Paris.  And a whole day set aside for the Louvre, the immense museum that once was the king’s palace, until Louis XIV thought it just too dinky and built Versailles instead…


We entered the Louvre from the Paris Metro to gaze at the pyramids rising both above and below the new central entrance I M Pei designed for the Louvre in 1983.


Once we passed security and ticketing we made our way into the vast halls of the Louvre.


So much to see, but we were determined to make the Mona Lisa our first stop.  From the flow of other tourists beside us, we were clearly not the only ones making the bee’s line to Mona.


It would mean blithely jogging past two magnificent Michelangelos, not realizing these were two magnificent Michelangelos until we got to them later in the day.  I’ll spend some quality time with them here as well on another blog post another time…



But right now, gotta boogie on to Mona Lisa…







No time to linger, M L is calling!


(Man this place is huge!) ….




Finally we entered the hall which houses Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.



The Mona Lisa is one of the smaller paintings in the hall, and unlike all the others which depict dramatic events peopled with theatrically emotive characters, contents itself with depicting a singular figure from the waist up, sporting a famously enigmatic smile.

A separate wall has been installed just for it in the center of the hall.

A large area in the center of this section of the hall has been cordoned off to handle the crowds.  From the size of this area and the expected numbers it could hold, I could tell this was (as a guide also confirmed) a less crowded day than normal at the Louvre.


Nonetheless, I would have to patiently make my way through enough of a crowd to get close to M L.



Just get by this tall person, and these raised phones…


And this couple posing for pictures….


And this couple checking the pictures they took posing in front of M L…


Finally I secured my central spot, the closest the airport style security straps would let me get.

Clearly at one point the wooden barrier especially installed was as close as one was allowed to get to the painting.  But now the mob is held off even further.

Rather impossible to get a close up and personal view of Mona this way…

So close and yet so far…


Luckily my camera has a zoom function…






Clo… ser…


My camera has a very good zoom function.  Bringing faraway structures up close and personal in the lens.  Nonetheless this is the closest I could get to M L from my cordoned off perch.

Then my reflection caught my eye…


Mona Lisa and Me.

My head lightly caressed by M L’s oversized hands.






Oh really, what is all the fuss about…


No wonder she smiles wryly…


All this special attention and particular precautions taken for this one medium sized portrait.

While just behind us on the opposite wall one of the most monumental paintings at the Louvre gets scant attention.

(Although Ed did look closely and declared this depiction of the wedding at Cana to be “biblically incorrect.  The people are too rich”. )



Arrivederci, Mona Lisa… we’ve got tons more to see in the rest of the Louvre.



Friend on Facebook: Were you surprised how small the painting was?

My response: No, I knew that would be the case. But it is sad how far one is now kept from the painting so that the only way to really look at it is through the zoom lens, or other people’s published close ups. Otherwise the in person experience is really more about the inevitable public circus atmosphere. A real contemplative in person experience with the painting is no longer possible.









About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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