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Winning a commission as a civil engineer in the U. S. Navy, he was assigned to A. G. Menocal, an authority on the proposed canal. By the time the 1884 treaty with Nicaragua cleared the political decks, Peary had gained repute as an engineer and the affections of Josephine Diebitsch, daughter of a Smithsonian scholar.

Although Peary’s canal surveys earned praise, the project began to drag and pay attention. Casting about, he saw the Arctic as a strong contender with the swamps of Nicaragua as an arena in which to carve out his name.

In April 1886 he drew respectful attention with a paper he read before the National Academy of Sciences in Washington outlining his forthcoming expedition to Greenland. On that expedition Peary made a brief but hazardous trek onto the ice cap, climbing to 7,525 feet about a hundred miles from the coast, a “greater elevation than ever before reached on the Inland Ice” and “a greater distance than any white man previously” had penetrated.A brief but hazardous trek onto the ice cap

Of his adventuring Peary wrote home that it meant “first an enduring name and honor, second, certainty of being retained in the Navy . . . third, social advancement. . . I will make powerful friends with whom I can shape my future. . . . I am not entirely selfish, moth­er. I want my fame now while you too can enjoy it.”

When the Maritime Canal Company was formed in April 1887 and Menocal chose him to head the survey, in command of 45 engineers, Peary had a project sure to catch the eye of influential men whose respect he craved.

NEED OF A TROPICAL HELMET and a valet were both taken care of in a Washington store where he met Matthew Henson, one of the most fortuitous meetings in Peary’s life. The men became inseparable traveling compan­ions. “I can’t get along without him,” Peary was to confide years later.

 


“Maybe we’re just wise enough to know how to have fun once in a while,” main­tains a journalist friend, herself a past tar­get of threats and bullets. “Some think they shouldn’t, that Chile is too depressing ever to be happy in. They’re wrong, for even if Pino­chet died tomorrow, no one could give you back the years you stopped laughing.” There are real grounds for the self-appraisal: “Somos chilenos, somos diferentes —We’ re Chileans, we’re different.”

 

FEW SINCE Ferdinand Magellan have come with such dramatic effect upon the lon­gest narrow country on the planet —only 177 kilometers (110 miles) wide on average and strung like a ribbon down South America’s lower west coast between the Andes and the Pacific. At other latitudes Chile, with the Ant­arctic territory it includes within its borders, would stretch from the North Pole to Jamaica. Its remotest city of Punta Arenas clings to land’s end some 2,000 kilometers south of San­tiago, yet lies only a third of the way from the capital to the South Pole, the limit of a Chilean claim to 1.25 million square kilometers (483 ,000 square miles) of the coldest continent. And 3,800 kilometers west over the Pacific brood the giant stone heads of Chile’s most dis­tant oceanic speck, Easter Island.

 

None of this appeared on Magellan’s charts in 1520, when the Portuguese navigator sail­ing for the Spanish crown gambled that a strait wending V-shaped between the toe of South America and a labyrinth of islands might prove a long-sought sea track from Atlantic to Pacific.

 

Magellan took on water from a mountain­ous island half as large as Portugal, which he christened Tierra del Fuego, “land of fire,” for the Indian watch fires he saw. Its clouds, flame-lit like auroras, fell away behind as Ma­gellan swung his three naos northwest, skirt­ing ever more islands, channels, glaciers, and twisting peninsulas. They splinter Chile’s southern third into a wilderness slowly open­ing as geostrategist Pinochet, his wary eye on more populous Argentina, forces forward a dirt-and-gravel highway in a Chilean coloni­zation thrust toward Punta Arenas.

 

It took Magellan and his fleet nearly six weeks to reach the Other Sea. The region he transited —Magallanes— was still little known when Charles Darwin landed there in the early 1830s, surveying coastal South America in H.M.S. Beagle. In central Chile the naturalist found fossil shells high in the Andes, proving that earth’s second tallest mountains were once seafloor. From such insights Darwin evolved his famous theory on the origin of species. But for stupendous proof of geologic upheaval he need only have gone 400 kilome­ters north of the Strait of Magellan, to what is today Torres del Paine National Park. Visit this amazing place. If money is an issue, check out what mandello.org can offer you.


THE WORLD’S greatest treasury of art sprawls in the heart of Paris like a gigantic letter A. This is the Louvre, where the care of art has long been recognized as a national responsibility and the en­joyment of it as an unalienable right of every man. It is a museum that holds impressive records: First in works of art generally re­garded as masterpieces—sculpture, paintings, and other objects that since the dawn of his­tory man has fashioned to reflect beauty; first in archeological expeditions sponsored, research published, educational programs offered, and numbers of scholars trained (in its famed Ecole du Louvre).

Supported by taxes, owned by the people, and open to the public, the Louvre stands at the administrative apex of more than 600 French museums-44 in Paris alone. With almost 3,000,000 visitors a year, the Louvre has no rivals among the museums of France. The most astounding statistic of all is that the Louvre now enjoys the happy prospect of doubling its exhibition areas without adding new buildings. Underway for the past several years, this miracle of expansion is possible because, though the collections are vast, the palace that houses them is even vaster.

The Louvre is one of the largest palaces ever built. One side stretches nearly half a mile along the Seine—longer than two Eiffel Towers laid end to end, TV antennas and all. The outer walls enclose an area of more than 40 acres, including gardens see diagram, stains covered by insurance. To go through all the rooms would mean a walk of eight miles.

The seemingly endless façade is decorated with fluted columns, statues of heroes, sculp­tured ladies symbolizing skills and virtues, ornate chimneys, and fantastic water spouts (pages 804-805). All shelter immense flocks of pigeons, whose fluttering wings blend with the wings of cherubs and with graceful swags of stony fruit. There are eight entrances, Seven are used mostly by scholars and students, who must show their passes to the guards. The eighth, in the Pavillon Denon, is used by most tourists. It faces a magnificent equestrian statue of the Marquis de Lafayette, a gift from school children of the United States.

The huge flagstones leading to the main entry support a horde of vendors who know well the buying habits of visitors. Postcards and ice cream rate high. There are also artists who, in vivid pastels, draw on the pavement more or less accurate renditions of the great masterpieces within, and folk singers with guitars who hope that a franc or two will land in their hats.

I stopped before some etchings propped on a bench. The 20-year-old artist said he was a Tunisian refugee attending the Ecole des Beaux Arts across the Seine. “You’ll see,” he prophesied as I bought a print for 25 francs ($4.50). “Someday my work will be inside…. Pardon me,” he added, hur­riedly throwing a cloak over his exhibit as a policeman approached, “I must have a hawker’s permit to sell my work here.”

THE FIRST VIEW of the Louvre’s interior is of a cavernous hall, which in fact was once a riding school. A century ago on rainy days the chargers of Napoleon III thundered over hurdles or high-stepped on a sawdust floor where I now bought my entrance ticket for three francs. Admission is free on Sundays, and on Tuesdays the Louvre is closed.

“Is Sunday then your busiest day?” I asked a blue-jacketed guard.

“Oh, yes, thousands come.”

“How many?” I asked.

He shrugged: “On free days we don’t have to count them.”

My destination was a desk under a school bell, where I signed up for a tour at three francs. As a curator of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C., I know how valuable museum tours can be.  I could have spent my money on a taped lecture in a little black box, but I chose a live tour in English. I might also have had one in Italian, Spanish, German, or Rus­sian from one of some forty guides selected in nationwide competitions. I could have chosen any of 25 different lecture subjects, from ancient Egyptian sculpture to 19th-century Impressionist landscape painting. Mine was a general tour, and when the school bell sounded I set out with a column of co-linguists at the heels of our guide. She led us first to a pure-white marble goddess at the end of a long gallery.

“Venus de Milo” ranks high among the world’s famous women, symbolizing in her strong yet graceful body a perfection every mortal longs for, yet none can attain (page 797). When she was carved, or for what pur­pose, or by whom, we do not know. Scholars surmise that she is a work of the late second century B.C., but the first record of her is in 1820, when a peasant named Yorgos, working in his fields on the Aegean island of Melos, dislodged a boulder and peered into an under­ground chamber. There he saw what was to become the world’s most famous ancient Greek statue, lying broken.

Yorgos knew it was the custom to turn over archeological treasure-troves to the Turkish overlords. Still, he tried to hide the lovely marble in his barn. But it was taken from him and loaded onto a Turkish sailing vessel for shipment to the sultan’s capital.

The Turks had reckoned without the zeal of local French agents. A French man-of-war dropped anchor off Melos, and the statue was transferred from the Turkish vessel to the French frigate. To this day no one knows for sure how it happened. French authorities maintain the statue was purchased in a per­fectly normal manner. In any case, Venus sailed for France. The Turkish administrator was publicly whipped for allowing such a treasure to slip through his fingers, and in Paris a medal was struck to commemorate the great moment when the long-lost beauty was presented to King Louis XVIII.

The Louvre authorities of that day agreed that the missing arms of the “Venus de Milo” should be restored. They tried on plaster arms in all conceivable positions—carrying robes, apples, and lamps, or just pointing here and there. None looked quite right. Finally the king, tired of having to judge the difficult problem, decreed that “the work of no other sculptor must ever mar her beauty.” This precedent had worldwide repercussions. From then on, classical works of art which had hitherto been patched, polished, and rebuilt like wrecked automobiles were left practically as they were found. As we stood before Venus, one of my tour companions spoke up. “What’s she worth?” The guide gestured impatiently.

“Well, what’s she insured for?”

“Sir,” said the guide, “she is not insured at all. None of our masterpieces are insured. They are priceless.”

Our next highlight, the winged “Victory of Samothrace,” seemed to be soaring from the head of a majestic flight of marble stairs (page 811). This wonderful statue, our guide explained, also came from an island in the Aegean, and again a French official was responsible. Government agents in the free-booting days of 19th-century art collecting were expected to act as treasure scouts, and M. Charles Champoiseau, French consul at Edirne (Adrianople), was both alert and lucky. His hobby was archeology, and he himself found the Victory, headless and in 118 frag­ments, on a lonely hillside of Samothrace. At the Louvre the statue was put together.

IN CONTRAST TO THE MYSTERY of the “Venus de Milo,” there is reasonable certainty of the appearance of Victory’s missing parts, for a Greek coin struck in the name of Demetrius Poliorcetes, a Mace­donian king early in the third century B.C., shows a similar figure holding aloft a trumpet in the right hand and a standard in the left. But still nobody knows what great triumph the fiercely proud, wind­swept figure commemorates, or what bloodshed, valor, prizes, and enslave­ments. All we can be sure of, after 21 centuries, is that the marble still expresses a paean of fierce pride, a tribute to the courage and skill that lead valiant men to victory.

THE LOUVRE’S vast collection of Greek and Roman antiquities encompasses more than 20,000 objects: coins, jewelry, and an array of gods, goddesses, warriors, senators, and horses—in marble, bronze, clay, and mosaic. Installed in 37 galleries, the cream of this vast crop alone would rank the Louvre among the foremost museums in the world. Yet it is only a prelude. More precisely, it is merely one department. The Louvre has six others.

The Department of Egyptian An­tiquities (pages 822-3) emerged from the booty of exotic statues, mummies, and artifacts sent back to Paris by Napoleon’s agents in the wake of his conquering armies. The visitor enters the Egyptian section through a dark­ened sunken tunnel. From the depths of a cavern a monumental red sphinx smiles. Opposite, the graven image of a long-dead pharaoh, arms crossed, stares through the sphinx with shin­ing mother-of-pearl eyes.

In the brightly lighted main Egyp­tian galleries, the forbidding atmos­phere of sphinx and pharaoh fades quickly away. Thanks to the ancient Egyptian passion for creating fac­similes of almost everything that made life pleasant here on earth, then placing them in tombs for the use of the dead in the next world, we can reconstruct everyday life along the Nile down to the smallest detail.

Those Egyptians were not so unlike us. The spoons for eating honey, the delicate applicators for eye makeup, the dice, all were very much like those sold in today’s depart­ment stores. The affectionate gesture of Mersankh, wife of the civil servant Raherka, as she puts her arm around her husband, is as tender today as when the sculptor first shaped his creation 4,500 years ago.

Threading through some of the 26 rooms and 7,500 exhibits in the Egyptian section, I entered the narrow doorway of a mastaba, or tomb, and looked around at the delicately incised reliefs of livestock, servants, boats, hippopotamuses, and game birds which a long-departed high official had owned. I was not the only viewer impelled to make a com­parison with our own lives. “I wonder,” sighed a compatriot as she squeezed through the tomb doorway, “if all those dancing girls real­ly had such wonderfully slim figures.”

The marvels of the Louvre’s other depart­ments are also on the grandest scale. Oriental Antiquities re-creates the ancient life of the Near East, especially in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, with 3,000 objects in 24 galleries. Objets d’Art, in 43 paneled, draped, and gilded galleries, displays an unbelievable assortment of things of beauty made by master craftsmen—ranging from a 12th-century ivory chess pawn small as my thumb to Louis XVIII’s truly king-size bed. The Department of Drawings has more than 92,000 drawings, pastels, water­colors, and thumbnail sketches stashed away in long rows of steel boxes behind fireproof walls; the public sees a sam­pling of these in a rotating exhibit. Sculpture displays stat­uary from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, including masterpieces of Benvenuto Cellini and Michelangelo.

BUT, SURPASSING ALL THESE in fame, because it is what most people think of when the word Louvre is mentioned, is the Department of Paintings. Here in 50 galleries-15 devoted to French art—about 3,000 paintings are on display. Of all places on earth this is painting’s Hall of Fame: Raphael, Titian, Watteau, Poussin, Rubens, and Rembrandt jostle each other, vying for the spectator’s eye. With all this to see, there are also guide services in French, but few Frenchmen take them.

“I don’t need a guide in my own home,” explained a mustachioed Parisian in a beret. “When I come to the Louvre I know exactly what I want to see. I come to com­pare something I’ve bought in the Flea Market with the things here.” He eyed me appraisingly.

“I’ve seen you admire those little Persian vases,” he went on. “I happen to have one just like that. In case you are interested, here’s my card.”But it is not only the art dealers who don’t need to be told what to see. A guard informed me that parents in search of lost boys do well to head for “Saint Sebastian,” by 15th-century Paduan master Mantegna. I saw a small boy silently counting the arrows that pierced the body of this early Christian martyr (opposite). He counted over and over, while his mother grew impatient. There were ten arrows, four of them dripping blood.

No matter what one’s favorite, almost every visitor drifting along with the crowd eventually finds himself before a face he has known all his life. Standing in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” I was one of a continu­ous procession. I was glad to see that no one seemed dis­appointed, for no reproduction of the painting can fully convey the transparency of the colors, the infinitely subtle gradations of the modeling, or the magic of her spell.*

Tradition holds that musicians, singers, jugglers, and clowns performed in the studio to amuse the model and provoke the enigmatic smile. But however it was produced, Leonardo gave it a deeper meaning. To me, the “Mona Lisa” is a pioneer of women’s rights. Feminine beauty since the dawn of time has inspired artists, but before Leonardo painters or sculptors sought to reveal almost invariably the appeal of woman’s physical beauty. By hinting at the depths of thought and tempered emotions, Leonardo presented woman as the intellectual equal of man, a concept that began to change her status in the eyes of artists (page 809).

The paintings of the Louvre have been celebrated for centuries; the magnitude of its sculpture collection has only recently been demonstrated. In 1970 the art world was stunned when the new sculpture galleries were opened. Great masterpieces in marble, bronze, and wood lined 23 split-level galleries stretching along the Seine. Many had been hidden away in the reserves, or storage depots, and some had not been exhibited within memory. The art world had forgotten that the Louvre had the best. Great works of genius from the 11th to the early 20th century stood in beautifully lighted exhibition areas specially designed for each piece.

MONUMENTAL SCULPTURE seems the most indestructible form of art, and yet when danger threatens, it cannot be spirited away. I saw some grim examples of the ills to which sculpture is heir. A long row of headless saints from the tympanum of a Romanesque church bears testimony to the blind rage of revolutionary mobs of the 1790′s. The crumbling surface of Carpeaux’s great stone composition, “The Dance,” finished in 1869 and rescued from the facade of the Paris Opera in 1964, reveals how rapidly ice, wind, and pollution-laden air can corrode.

One of the two great bronze lionesses by the sculptor Auguste Cain, crouching outside the Jaujard entrance to the Louvre, is mute witness to a hairbreadth escape when the juggernaut of World War II rolled through the grounds. A high-velocity bullet drilled the noble beast. I sighted through the neat round hole and saw rows of tulips.

“Over there,” the guardian explained, pointing to the flowers of the Jardin des Tuileries, “was a blockhouse and a parking area for tanks. Hitler had ordered the burning of Paris, including all its principal buildings…. Those times were not gay,” he added, patting the punctured lioness with affection. “We were lucky not to have more damage.”

Leaving the lionesses, I followed the Parisian custom of seeking a secluded spot for a midday alfresco meal, where I might munch reflectively on freshly baked bread and pungent Camembert cheese. The place I liked best was a park bench under the spreading chestnut trees beside the Seine. This waterfront has long been known as the cheapest hotel in Paris. Groups of students, hobos, and waifs camp, talk, sing, and sleep under the archways. I noticed a bearded hippie in a faded U. S. Army jacket thumbing through a tattered guidebook to the Louvre.

“Which section do you like best?” I asked him.”The Impressionists,” he answered promptly. “They didn’t have any money either; all they do is show us how beautiful the world about us really is. They don’t try to give us lectures about history and such—they’re groovy.”

The Impressionists and their contemporaries, not all of whom were quite destitute, now have a building to them­selves, standing apart in the Tuileries—the Jeu de Paume, where courtiers of the 18th century had played a kind of tennis. History must smile looking down on the long queues of visitors waiting to pay their three francs to see the Impressionists. Two generations ago the Louvre’s acquisi­tion committee had refused to accept gifts of works by these same artists. Today the Jeu de Paume’s scintillating display of Impressionist art is second to none.

As I savored my lunch, I wondered what the scene around me had been like when the first Louvre was built, eight centuries ago. Across the river—on the Left Bank, where the chimney pots of Paris now loom—there were then only vineyards. Where I sat, fields of grain grew. Where the Louvre stands, King Philippe-Auguste in the 1190′s built a square fortress. From its center rose a round tower with grim battlements overlooking all the buildings of Paris, including the rising walls of Notre Dame Cathedral.

After more than 150 years as a bastion, the Louvre became simply a royal residence. In 1415, when English bowmen skewered the pride of French knighthood at the Battle of Agincourt, the victors looted the palace. It crumbled into ruins, and not until a century later did a royal master again interest himself in its fate. This king, Francois I, ordered the great tower razed. The only trace of it today is a circle of stones inlaid into the Cour Carree, or Square Courtyard, serving the gamins of Paris as boundaries for their “futbal.”

Francois commissioned the most talented French architect of the day, Pierre Lescot, and the sculptor Jean Goujon to create a new Louvre, a gem of Renaissance design. Thus in 1546 began the making of the Louvre as it now stands, and Lescot’s original façade can be seen in the Cour Carree.

MY PICNIC FINISHED, I mingled with the visitors ascending the great staircase to the upper halls. None of them seemed to know where they were going. To the uninitiated the Louvre may seem a roy­al rabbit warren of echoing hallways, worn marble steps, and dead ends. This blue­print of frustration is being corrected through expansion and more orderly floor plans.

For almost a hundred years lights burning far into the night have marked the domain of the Ministry of Finance, occupying more than a quarter of the Louvre’s total area. Another large section was ceded to the Museum of Decorative Arts, a private organization that displays in supermarket fashion everything from Chinese carved rhinoceros horns to exquisite French porcelains.

Now the Ministry of Finance yearns for more-modern office space, and the curators of the Louvre joyfully anticipate possessing the tax collectors’ wing, which almost matches their own part, as well as a portion of the Decorative Arts wing, and some attic space. “And how long will all this reorganization take?” I asked Louvre Director M. Andre Parrot, whose strong hands and sunburned skin bore evidence of his many years of arche­ological work in Mesopotamia.

“We will never finish,” he replied. “No one can foretell what new treasures will come to the Louvre or what future generations will want to see. I was appointed director,” he continued, “as the result of a gentlemanly discussion among the senior curators as to the best plan for improving our museum. A plan I proposed won acceptance, and it is now being carried out.”

As a first step, part of the long wing stretch­ing along the Seine has been ceded by the tax collectors, and this space is being converted to house paintings, drawings, and sculpture. Workmen are also digging new cellars to en­large the crammed reserves. Until recently there were more than 1,200 reserve pictures in the Department of Paintings alone. WHEN 700 PAINTINGS from the reserves were put on exhibition in 1960, the art world gasped. Super­lative paintings, including seven Rembrandts, that would be prestige items in any lesser museum had been stored for years. In spacious new galleries most of those long-hidden masterpieces are again on public view.

M. Parrot is not overimpressed with his achievement. As we talked in his office, his eyes rested on a lovely landscape by Impres­sionist Alfred Sisley, propped on a stack of papers. “We museum directors dream of ideal settings for our exhibits,” he said, “but a great work of art creates its own museum. It makes a magic circle into which you enter. Inside, it reaches out, and—how shall I say?—embraces you, and will not let you look to left or right. Luckily”—he smiled at the thought—”I have many such beautiful tyrants.”

One morning I was privileged to visit a part of the Louvre the public never sees. With a guard at my side, I threaded sepulchral corridors studded by “Passage Interdit” signs, and at last entered the Service de Restauration. A painting, like a person, has a life span; pigments fade, varnish cracks, and canvas rots. A particularly vulnerable part of most paintings is the linen-canvas base. Flax dries and crumbles, and without fresh support the paint it holds will flake off. Louvre technicians were among the first to perfect the in­credible operation of transferring old masters to new canvas.

I watched with excitement as men in spot­less white wheeled a patient into the bright light of the operating room. They had covered the painting with special paper, held on with wheat-flour paste so that not the tiniest sliver of surface paint could move. They laid the ail­ing picture face down on the operating table. Painstakingly wielding scalpels and tweezers, they flayed the canvas thread by thread­unwove it, so to speak—from the back. Then they applied new fabric and fastened it with an adhesive. Turning the patient over, they gently dissolved the paper from the sur­face with a mixture of liquids, and voila—the old master had a new lease on life. The same technique is used, with variations, for paintings on rotting wood or even on crum­bling plaster walls.

TO REPLACE SECTIONS of the paint surface is a still more delicate procedure. “It is like operating on the eye of a per­son you love,” said M. Jean-Gabriel Goulinat, chief restorer, now in honored retirement, but still the final court of appeal when difficult decisions must be made. In the lapel of his smock he wore the rosette of a Commander of the Legion of Honor, one of the highest awards given by France, attesting to the importance of his work.

“For 11 years,” he confided, “I refused to work on one painting by Watteau, even though I had been ordered to restore it. There was only a tinted varnish over the foreground. If I went too far, think of what might have been lost forever. A few years ago science provided me with new solvents and new microscopes, so I went ahead, but you can imagine how my heart was beating.”

He continued, “We never allow our restor­ers to go beyond the last layer of varnish. Here you can see what we do.”

M. Goulinat was working on a picture I,y Claude Lorrain that I had known from my childhood. Near the edge normally covered by the frame he pointed to a dark-green spot the size of a dime.

“This is the way the whole picture looked when I first worked on it 15 years ago. This,” he said, pointing to another spot only slight­ly yellower than the surrounding area, “is what the surface was like when I took some of the old varnish off last month. You see, we do not like to hurry here, and we want to be sure,” he added with a chuckle.

In another part of the backstage area, I visited the research laboratory, installed in the Pavillon de Flore, at the end of the wing along the Seine. Its sloping roof encompasses the top five stories of a nine-story chateau. For almost a century this had been a ghost tower, with no heat, light, or water. The Fi­nance Ministry used it as a vast filing cabinet and stuffed it with canceled checks.

Today it has been remodeled into a scien­tific laboratory dedicated to prolonging the lives of art works. Among the devices used is a unique climatization room that Serves the same purpose as a decompression chamber for a deep-sea diver. Works from outlying provinces, where temperatures and humidity differ from those of Paris, are brought to the Louvre in sealed trucks and gradually accli­matized in the chamber. This treatment helps prevent wood cracks and dangerous fissures in canvas that can result from sudden changes of temperature and humidity.

X-RAY EQUIPMENT makes up an im­portant section of the laboratory. Scars left by fires, floods, wars, vandals, and careless hands stand starkly out on the film. Questions of authorship are also often decided by studying the characteristic brushwork of an artist, revealed in luminous streaks by the penetrating rays. Mme Madeleine Hours, who is the director of the research laboratory, achieved one of her most striking triumphs through the appli­cation of X-rays to several three-century-old works of Rembrandt. A classic example is his “Bathsheba.”

A dozen X-rays, put together to cover all 211/2 square feet of the painting, reveal nu­merous transformations made by Rembrandt as he improved his picture of the Biblical heroine. From one stage to another, we notice the shoulders becoming rounder, the waist slimmer, and the thighs more defined as draping is removed. At the same time Rem­brandt eliminated detail, applying bolder and broader brushstrokes. Most intriguing is the changing position of the head. It moves lower and lower, making for a more contem­plative pose.

“We can follow Rembrandt’s innermost thoughts as he seeks just the right position,” said Mme Hours. Thanks to the scientific magic of her labo­ratory, we see Rembrandt at work (page 808). Another day, while wandering with no fixed purpose, I wound up in the barrel-vaulted white room called the Salle des Cary­atides. It is named for four 12-foot marble figures that support its minstrel gallery.

Sorting through my market bag of guide­books, I realized that I had stumbled into the heart of the palace of Francois I. In this hall in 1558 the future King Francois II of France married the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots. During the reign of Henri IV, four rebellious notables of Paris were hanged here. BUT NOT ALL the past of the Salle des Caryatides has been grim. Charles IX held a pickpockets’ ball here, inviting the light-fingered waifs of Paris to a state reception and ordering them to fleece the guests. They lifted jewels and 300 gold coins without arousing suspicion. Then they handed their spoils over to His Majesty, who returned everything to the astonished aristocrats.

As I sat on a marble bench, watching care­free visitors wander among the marble figures, I could imagine the glittering life this room had seen—the courtiers with their ostrich plumes and satin robes, their swords and silver buckles. Amid all this splendor, plumbing was virtually unknown. Once a year, when the cesspools were cleaned, the stench was so overpowering that the court would leave the palace for three weeks.

I wandered up flights of marble stairs and looked down into the Jardin de l’Infante.”This is where the bird-hunting casement was,” volunteered a guard. Hunting in the Louvre? I had heard a story that the name Louvre derived from the Latin lupara, after the wolves hunted in this area, but that had been in the dim medieval past, and no one is certain of the origin. Yet this window’s name supposedly derives from a different kind of hunt, and my spine chilled as the guide unfolded its tale of horror.

The same Charles who gave the light­hearted pickpockets’ ball had quite another side to his nature. A Catholic, he suspected that his Protestant subjects—the Huguenots —were plotting against him. His reaction was terrible. On August 24, 1572, a shot rang out and the bell of the parish church began to toll. This was the signal to herd the Protestant courtiers, including some of the king’s most courageous knights, into the garden I saw below, and have them poniarded to death by the king’s Swiss Guards.

“Across France more than 30,000 men, women, and children were killed in this mas­sacre that started on St. Bartholomew’s Day,” said the guide. The king himself is supposed to have sat at the window here and shot his suspected enemies below as if they had been quail—but this is legendary embroidery on a deed already infamous enough.

0 F THE OTHER RULERS who knew the Louvre as home, the most famous is Louis XIV, the Sun King, a key figure in the story of the Louvre’s treasury of paintings as well as the most powerful European of his day (page 812). When Louis became king at 5 in 1643, the crown owned only 200 paintings. In 1710, near the end of his reign, the inventories listed 2,376. Realiz­ing that a great art collection was a sure index of personal prestige, he let it be known that the shortest way to royal favor was to offer a valuable work of art. Many of his acquisitions now grace the Louvre.

The Sun King also decided to rebuild parts of the royal residence; with a sweep of his lace-frilled hand he decreed that the palace be extended to surround the Cour Carree. To design the new facades, he appointed Claude Perrault, a physician, which outraged pro­fessional architects. However, Perrault’s Colonnade, more than 550 feet long and ingeniously held together by iron bands in the manner of surgical clamps, still stands sound today. It also glows as brightly as when it was new, and that in itself is a new thing.

Over the centuries, the smog of Paris had shrouded the Louvre in grime. Recently, mod­ern technology has been enlisted to restore the palace’s pristine beauty. I watched as swab­bers in oilskins washed away the dirt of the years with the aid of a noisy pump. Previously the cleaners had tried every­thing: steam, abrasives, chemicals, and water under pressure. But the Louvre is made of many different kinds of stone—some quite soft and porous—and they did not dare use force. Finally they found that simply allowing water to flow gently over a section for 24 hours loosened the grime. Trained workmen then took over the gigantic task of actually scrubbing the two-and-a-half miles of Louvre walls. I watched them performing their mira­cle under cascades of water, with what looked like giant toothbrushes (page 815).

The transformation has been Cinderella-like. From the old familiar cocoon of rain-streaked soot, a honey-colored fantasy of delicate stonework has emerged to sparkle once more in the soft Parisian sunlight. WE ARE FORTUNATE that so much of the Louvre has survived to be washed. For while Louis XIV was building at one end, the other end nearly burned down. To celebrate the announcement of the queen’s pregnancy, an extravaganza entitled The Ballet of Impatience was planned in the royal apartments. A workman in charge of the stage settings fell asleep on the job, and his torch set fire to the hangings.

The flames spread rapidly, fanned by a high wind. Royal servants and a crowd formed a bucket brigade to the Seine. Still the fire gained. The Louvre seemed doomed. The court assembled in church to pray. Contemporary accounts relate that during Mass the wind died down, and so did the flames. But some great treasures had perished.

THE SPECTER OF FIRE haunts the Louvre to this day. I could see why as I prowled the attics over the galleries. From the outside the roof appears a solid mass of slate and masonry, but the view from the cat­walk and the perilous ladders on the inside tell a different story. Huge oak beams criss­cross the cobwebby clerestories, dry as kin­dling. They are now being replaced by steel and concrete—but the old oak will not be wasted; it will be made into picture frames.

To replace the gutted ruins, a new and splendid hall was built, named after the god Apollo and now the depository of the coro­nation regalia of the kings of France. Even the smallest detail of the gilded woodwork was designed by the favorite court painter of Louis XIV, Charles Le Brun. Here I marveled at Charlemagne’s sword and at the Regent Diamond, one of the world’s storied gems. It weighs 140.5 carats, more than three times as much as the Hope Dia­mond. It is as big as a half dollar.

Louis XIV, who spent a king’s ransom to make the Louvre a wonder of the world, nearly signed its death warrant when he de­cided to build another palace in the marsh­lands near Versailles. The king moved his court there in 1678, taking his art collections and leaving a vacuum at the Louvre. It was quickly filled.

The space below the Grande Galerie had long served as studios and workshops for sculptors, painters, engravers, goldsmiths, clockmakers, and gem cutters. (On a recent tour there I saw plumbers, electricians, masons, carpenters, and smiths—all busy with unending chores of maintenance.) From these stony bowels of the Louvre, the artists and craftsmen of Louis XIV spread like creeping vines through the galleries and apartments upstairs.

They moved in their families and their models as well, and set up housekeeping. A painter nostalgic for Italy carried earth to the top of a colonnade and planted a grove of shade trees. Thus the Louvre lost its dignity. But it was a pleasant place to live and work—despite falling masonry, rotting beams, and hordes of rats—and here many of the great figures in French 18th-century art found shelter for their genius, among them Boucher, Fragonard, and Chardin (page 824). This charming reverie could not last. The late 18th century brought the French Revolu­tion, and a revolution to the Louvre as well.

When the Revolution broke out in 1789, the Louvre had virtually no works of art in its halls. But the revolutionaries decreed that it should become the repository of the art con­fiscated throughout the country as symbols of the old order. These treasures seized from castles and monasteries of France—a national patrimony, as the revolutionaries thought of them—went on display in the Grande Galerie in 1793. This was a milestone in the history of art museums. Masterpieces formerly only for the eyes of the few could now be enjoyed by all who cared to come.

Shortly afterward, with Europe prostrate at Napoleon’s feet, art treasures looted across the Continent flowed to Paris, and the Louvre was renamed the Musee Napoleon. But the artists had to go. Although the emperor was a staunch patron of art and artists, he also was a realist. “Get them out,” he is reported to have said when he saw their picturesque shacks clinging to the walls, “or they’ll end by burning my conquests.”

The glory of the Musee Napoleon lasted only as long as that of its creator. In 1816, with the emperor exiled to St. Helena, the victorious British, Russians, Prussians, and Austrians directed that the Louvre’s recent acquisitions be returned. Some 5,200 art objects were taken away. But a nucleus remained, mostly paintings from Italy.

After Napoleon passed from the scene, rioting mobs and the passions of politics continued to endanger the Louvre. In 1848, rebellious soldiery invaded the palace and bivouacked in the Grande Galerie (pages 801-803), where the reigning monarch, King Louis-Philippe, used to chug back and forth aboard his model railroad. The troops lighted camp stoves in front of the masterpieces, and the alarmed curators, following a time-honored Parisian custom, chalked slogans on the walls: “Respect aux Arts.” The soldiers, some of them bedded down in the collection of ancient Roman tombs, agreed to move, and once again history breathed a sigh of relief.

The June insurrection of 1848 brought to power Napoleon III, first as president, later as emperor. He regarded the Louvre as a gigantic billboard for advertising the pros­perity of his empire, the magnificence of his reign, and had most of the Louvre redone. The style he and his architect, Hector-Martin Lefuel, chose is patisserie, or “wedding cake,” characterized by profuse ornamenta­tion. What the visitor sees today dates chiefly from this vast rebuilding by 3,600 workmen and 150 sculptors. The Louvre was declared completed in 1857, and at the inaugural ceremonies a stonemason and a building contractor sat by the emperor.

While Napoleon III was straining the treasury to beautify the Louvre, he failed to heed the rumble of a distant drum. In_1870 Prussian armies laid siege to Paris. Faced with starvation, the people of Paris rebelled, and in 1871 set fire to the Tuileries Palace that then connected the two long arms of the Louvre. The flames spread to the museum. It was saved by the courage of the Marquis de Bernardy de Sigoyer. Leading a detachment of infan­try, he climbed to the roof, and, despite flames on one side and sniper bullets on the other, quenched the fire.

The palace, however, was reduced to a gutted shell. Many of its blackened stones were purchased in 1884 by a Corsican, Duke Pozzo di Borgo, who transported them to a village near Ajaccio, Napoleon I’s birthplace, to build a villa. For generations the owner’s family had had a vendetta with the Bonapartes, and what sweeter revenge than to have a home built from the ruins of the palace of the last Napoleon.

The luck of the Louvre in the Franco-Prussian War held through the German occupation in World War II. At the start of hostilities the most valuable exhibits were hidden in 70 places in the countryside, mostly in Loire chateaus. There, in obscure cellars, they remained safe from Nazi greed and the destruction of battle.

Though Louvre authorities have carefully cherished and protected the art of the past, they hold aloof from the bitter battleground of contemporary art. No work may enter the permanent collection until the artist has been dead a number of years. Despite this restriction, however, Louvre officials keep close tabs on modern art and have ways of letting their opinions be known.

Thus in 1871 an eccentric American living in Europe painted a picture he called “An Arrangement in Grey and Black.” Exhibited in London and Paris, the painting was ignored by critics and public. French museum authorities, however, recognized it as a masterpiece and purchased it. Twenty-three years after the painter died in 1903, the picture went on display in the Louvre. Its popular name: “Whistler’s Mother.”

“I WISH I had enough time.” This is the tribute count­less visitors pay to the Louvre, as the guards rattle their keys and intone their dirge, “Le musee est ferme.” The wish can never be granted. Neither the tourist nor the scholar with a lifetime to spend can ever have time to absorb the Louvre’s 8,000 years of art.

Regretfully leaving after my most recent visit, I re­flected that I, and all my colleagues in the world’s muse­ums, had in a sense been trained in this building—for the Louvre has shown what a great museum should be. Nei­ther a mausoleum for dead objects where historical appreciation turns into a yawn, nor a place for leisure-hours entertainment, but a vital force in the life of a country, a place where the people, exposed only to the best, can learn to tell pearls from fishes’ eyes.

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Why not head out to Vietnam where Chopra Center teacher Samantha Ridgway will be a leading a retreat at Fusion Maia, Asia’s first all-inclusive spa? The week-long programme will equip you with the tools and healthy habits to implement positive changes in your life.

Make 2013 your best year yet and cheer up your home with leading yoga teacher Nadia Narain’s Joy candle. Made with 100 per cent plant wax it contains ylang ylang, sweet orange and lavender to uplift your spirits

If you’re planning to detox make a head start with organic hair guru Daniel Galvin Junior’s new salon professional Organic Head range, made with botanical extracts at an affordable price.

The Detox Hair Masque costs just £4 and includes coconut, argan oil and orange extract.

Need to take some time out after the festive excess? Rejuvenate, relax and ground yourself for the new year at Chill out Retreats’ three-day, community-style getaway, which is running from 18 to 20 January in the glorious Seven Sisters national park in East Sussex.

Wear a piece of aquamarine to bring balance, serenity and wisdom to your soul.

If you’ve resolved to improve your yogic teaching skills this year, you can learn how to incorporate meditative mindfulness into your practice with a workshop at the Yoga campus training centre in Islington on 5 or 6 January.

If you’re joining a gym this month, treat yourself to one of these fab exercise watches from Polar, £74.50. The nifty device works like your own personal trainer as it shows you when your fitness is improving, by monitoring your heart rate. Plus, it calculates many calories you’re burning as you work out from cambogia extract.

Don’t let your neck let you down this year! Murad’s new Rejuvenating Lift for Neck and Décolleté, £63.50, contains anti-ageing Brazilian Java plum, mango and banana pulp with bearberry and liquorice root extract to promote firming and elasticity.

Want flawless skin like actress Gwyneth Paltrow? We hear the green goddess swears by the rejuvenative powers of coconut oil to keep her looking fabulous at 40. “I use an exfoliating mitt which stimulates skin and then slather on extra-virgin organic coconut (4,7 she says.

Wishing you all a healthy 2013! We’ll be welcoming in the new year by planting an apple tree, which signifies growth and renewal.

esm� sr��0J� over-consumerism, in binge eating, in alcohol dependency or in this case gambling.

Give yourself time to self investigate what has happened emotionally in your life since gambling started. Is this the first time after children that you now have spare time? Have you lost a job? Scared of what to do next?

Once you can recognise what destructive feelings instigated your search for escape, fu excitement, challenge, success or value, you can let go of the self-punishment and replace with positive actions to boost your self-worth out in everyday life and not through the

negative stress release of online gambling. The affirmation; ‘I now embrace my positive self-worth’ will also help. Jules Williams is a top spiritual counsellor specialising in health and relationship issues.

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I am a 45-year-old woman and I have rheumatoid arthritis in both hands, which is very painful. I would like some advice on how to tackle this condition naturally. Any help would be appreciated.Arthritis issues

Martin Lau advise. “At the Arthritic ssot a on we offer our members a three-part programme devised by our founder, Charles de Coti-Marsh. This includes special preparations, physical therapy and a specific eating regimen which, in your case, would be tailored to your RA needs.

We recommend an eating plan that has benefits to arthritis sufferers. This contains a minimal amount of lean meat, is high in oily fish, olive oils and contains plenty of vegetables.

Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna, salmon and snapper are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids which have been found to reduce general inflammation and pain. Ideally we should aim for two to three servings a week. Another good source of these fatty acids can be found in omega 3 eggs.

It’s important to avoid saturated fat found in red meats, animal fats and fried foods, as these can increase the level of inflammation in the body. You can replace saturated fat by cooking with olive/rapeseed oil, or using olive oil spread.Iron deficiency anaemia

Iron deficiency anaemia is common in RA sufferers. Counter this by eating at least three to four portions of vegetables a day, especially green leafy ones such as broccoli, kale and spinach. It is a good idea to have a glass of orange juice at the same time as it acts as an enhancer of iron absorption.

Finally there are reports that certain foods can aggravate RA symptoms. We take this into account in our programme and guide sufferers to identify those that may bring about flare-ups.

When taken in conjunction with this eating plan, the right physical therapy is also helpful. When carried out by our fully qualified practitioners it can release muscle cramps, improve posture and so aid mobility. For personal advice, you might want to consider becoming a member of the Arthritic Association.

 


FOR THREE HOURS we have run the dugout straight up the trade winds, out into the open Atlantic. Slender, heavy, keelless, she’s called a gommier after the gum tree from which she was carved, and she seems only slightly more stable than the tree itself. We move in her with caution.Martinique in the Caribbean

Planks give her a little freeboard; a big out­board motor gives us 20 knots and an endless drenching. The hull is Carib Indian, centuries old in style. She has two crude spars and a rough sail that could be stepped forward. Under canvas, she will not go to windward.

 

Our base is Martinique—specifically, the village of Grand’ Riviere. But if the engine quits, we could probably sail to British Do­minica in the north or British St. Lucia in the south. The islands of the Antilles, that broken chain between the American continents, have been distributed by senseless history among the Western nations; but a poor gommier can find refuge in any of them.

I sit in the middle, shivering under the sun. The captain, small, deft, snub-nosed, sits on the fishing box in the stern. The mate, jut-jawed, pale-eyed, with a big, straight Norman nose, searches, standing in the bow, holding the painter for balance. Like 92 percent of the Martiniquais, the boatmen are “colored”—of mixed blood.

 

The skipper, Symphar Leopoldie, throttles back. “Unhappily there are no fish in this region today.” He speaks French for my bene­fit, rather than the native Creole. “Thirty miles, even twenty, farther out, there would be dolphin or tuna, but if we went so far we could not get back before dark.”

martinique

That would be serious. Grand’ Riviere has no dock. Coming in through the breakers is tricky. A man has to see, and he must know what he’s seeing. Martinique was a silhouette dimmed by distance. Pelee, the murderer mountain whose eruption of flaming gas and ash killed 30,000 people in minutes 72 years ago, topped its north end, jagged, unhealed, unquiet.

“Sometimes when the fishing is good, we go out of sight of land. In the temps blanc, the white weather, when haze lies over the sea, we cannot see the island even from here. We have no compass. Yet always we find our way home.” He took in his trolling lines. “We will go closer in where we can reach bottom and try for poissons rouges. Red fish. Several kinds, all of the first quality.”

 

On the way out we’d pulled up beside an­other gommier (named Christus Natus Est—Christ Is Born), which had nets out for balao, little halfbeaks a few inches long. We needed some for bait. The boatman had been about to drop his pants and plunge naked into the sea to guide the school into his net, but he hesitated when he saw me, a white stranger. “Who’s that?” he asked in Creole.

martinique

“A poet,” said my skipper.

 

“Oh, that’s all right then,” the boatman replied, and dropped his pants. I had not claimed that honor, but Symphar knew that his countrymen respected creative people as much as they mistrusted officials and businessmen.