Arts + Sciences Hunt

Perspective epitomizes the marriage of Arts + Sciences, so it should be no surprise that I’m providing this as the give-away clue to all those clever BAC-aged youths who’ll be on the hunt for Science at the Louvre tomorrow afternoon. Science-Académie (known as Science-Ac’).

Established in 2006 with just a few hundred students this Paris-Montagne Association now stands at 2000 students, enlivening the interest of high school students and pre-BAC kids in Science. Science-Ac was born from the l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS is the French equivalent of MIT, for you American readers), and has generational dons or tutors per each level, PhD candidates doing lab work along high-schoolers. Their proximity in age of course bolsters the inspiration for the students to further their scientific studies.

Tomorrow a group of Science-Ac’ students will be scouring the Louvre for 25 pieces of art that marry Art with Science. For instance a David and Goliath inspects the centripetal and centrifugal forces of the sling. But as that strays a bit from typical THATLou reading I’ll do a give-away that’s a bit closer to home.

Here are two works of art in two separate wings on two separate floors which illustrate perspective beautifully. Scientific perspective is an approximate representation, on a flat surface (such as a canvas or paper), of an image as it is perceived by the eye. The two most characteristic features of perspective are:

  1. objects are drawn smaller as their distance from the observer increases
  2. The distortion of items when viewed at an angle (spatial foreshortening)

In art the term foreshortening is often used synonymously with perspective, even though foreshortening can occur in other types of non-perspective drawing representations.

da Messina's Christ at the Cross

da Messina’s Christ at the Cross

 CHRIST AT THE COLUMN Antonello da Messina (1430-1479), 15th C Italian Painting

This fine painting is tiny, only .30m x .21m wide, so in a reversed way it pops out among the Italian Painting gallery. Antonello’s acquaintance with the rules and foreshortenings of Tuscan perspective allow him here to show a living, monumental Christ whose Passion thrusts itself upon the viewer. This immediacy is enhanced by the illusionist handling of the knot in the rope: set at the bottom of the composition, it appears to rest on the frame, as if on the ledge of a window opening onto the divine. During his apprenticeship in the Naples of the Princes of Aragon – collectors of the work of the Northern painters – Antonello acquired Flemish oil painting techniques: the layering of paint and glazes creates depth and subtle transitions from shade to light, while also enabling meticulous realism in physical terms and in the stroke by stroke rendering of Christ’s hair and beard. Please pose with his pained expression (just think of all Christ had been through at this point), to me it says “how much longer do I have to go through this torture?” It’s a great painting.                                             

de Hooch Card Players in an Opulent Interior

de Hooch Card Players in an Opulent Interior

CARD PLAYERS, Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684), 17th C Dutch Painting

During his decade in Delft (Holland), Pieter de Hooch was deeply influenced by the color and strict lines of the art of Carel Fabritius, who also influenced Vermeer (huh, Vermeer’s Astronomer may just be close by, then!). de Hooch developed a personal style that proved a success, basing his compositions on a colorful, artful use of perspective, with figures fitting harmoniously into the overall scheme. His works are subtly illuminated with lateral sources of light and often feature a series of rooms leading from one to the next. The lines of the marble floor tiles here draw the viewer’s attention to the vanishing lines of the painting. The spatial elements opening onto the exterior-windows and half-open doors-are punctuated by a contrasting play of light, accentuating the lines and volumes. Please photo your team pointing to the small hint of another room in this painting that measures.



Three Graces in the Borghese Collection at the Louvre,

Three Graces in the Borghese Collection at the Louvre,

So then, I’ve banged on a fair bit about the Three Graces recently, but unfairly without any substantial help to those intending on attending the next THATLou. In case you hadn’t guessed Beauty has won: the next treasure hunt, on Sunday 1 July, will be “Ladies at the Louvre” (We’ll leave Bestiary for the 5 August hunt). So, since you’ve been generous enough to read my enjoyable blather, the least I can do is throw you a treasure hunt bone. Below is the text which accompanies the photo of the exquisite Graces above — both of which appear in the next THATLou manual. With such help, you must be signed up already, no?



Roman copy of Greek 2nd Century BC Statue

Marble, H 1.19m (3ft, 10in) x W 85 cm (33 in)

The Graces, according to Seneca, stand for the 3-fold aspect of generosity the giving, receiving and returning of gifts of benefits. Three daughters of Zeus, some identified them as Beauty, Charm and Joy. Many myths had them presiding over banquets and gatherings, primarily to entertain and delight Zeus’s guests.  These are a Roman copy from the Imperial era (approximately 2nd Century AD), after a Hellenistic original from the 2nd Century BC. Nicolas Cordier (1565 – 1612) restored them in large part in 1609 for Cardinal Borghese (Did you catch that? It’s a thatlou hint… that this marvelous trio is a part of the Borghese collection). Napoleon acquired a considerable part of the Borghese collection in 1807 from his impoverished brother-in-law, Prince Camillo Borghese. 344 antiquities in total made their way from Italy to France. Yet another example of how a French monarch (don’t forget Francois Premier pulling over the Italian renaissance) reaped the benefits of Italian artistic talent — and Italian financial incapacity.


Sully, ground floor, room 17

(and remember during the hunt NO looking at the internet – so you may want to remember this room 17, gr fl, Sully wing address…)

A Hunter’s Themes

Dear Friends of THATLou,

Just a quick note. For the next two weeks El Argentino, STORSH and I are going on a little adventure. First to good old ‘Stamboul for a wonderful dose of Byzantium, and then, if we muster the nerve (we’ll see how easy travelling with an energetic toddler is)  winding our way down the Aegean coast, ideally zigzagging our way between the Greek Islands and the Greek and Roman ruin-sprinkled Turkish coast. All this to say the posts of the next few weeks will have a slightly un-Louvre taste to them. Two series are scheduled to run — one meant to be a bureaucratic farce contemplating a Comparison of Consulates (whilst getting STORSH’s two passports) and the other a 3-part piece on the Grand Palais. Apologies for this diversion from all things Louvre, all things art, all things THATLou. Perhaps a welcomed change for you – who knows. For now, though a quick plug:

If anyone’s in for the next THATLou on Sunday 3 June from 14h30 – 17h, please reserve your space by clicking the logo on the right hand side. And as a quick adieu, below are a list of the themes of THATLous that I’ve built since the first Blogger’s hunt on 23 March. If you have suggestions for common themes in western art, please do send them my way. If I make a hunt you’ve suggested you’ll get a free ticket to THATLou!

So here are the themes: Angels and Wings? Just think of adorable little putti prancing about. Fish and Water? Perhaps a few 17th century Dutch still lifes are in there. Power and Money? Give me busts of glory! Perhaps from the Roman Empire? You get the idea. For now, all of the below hunts are in English, sauf! Wheels and Motion, which is thus far our only French hunt (to which I have a fast-moving Italian to thank).

Angel + Wings

Fish + Water

Power + Money

Food + Wine

Ladies at the Louvre

Animals in Art

Wheels + Motion (offered in French)

For private parties I design specific hunts, working with the client on which theme is both achievable within the museum, as well as what would suit the guest of honour most. For example, if it’s a birthday party and the boy’s name is Sebastian, we could have a theme of St. Sebastian paintings, sculptures, icons, and arrows in art.

Happy May!

Sick Puppies in Rome

Emperor TIBERIUS, 2nd Emperor of Rome (14 – 37 AD)

Emperor Tiberius, this 6.8" statues was found in Capri (where he'd retired from Rome)

Emperor Tiberius, this 6.8″ statues was found in Capri (where he’d retired from Rome)

Stepson of Augustus (first Emperor of Rome), Tiberius was an impressive military man, with several significant battles under his belt. He wasn’t, however, very well suited to civilian life in Rome, where his mother, Livia, insisted he stay toward the end of Augustus’s life (to ensure that he inherit the throne). To further secure this inheritance, Livia also had Augustus (never fond of his awkward stepson) force Tiberius to divorce his wife, whom he loved deeply, in order to marry Augustus’s adulterous – and fun – daughter, Julia. The marriage was a fiasco, however it served Livia’s purpose perfectly. Pliny the Elder named Tiberius the “Gloomiest of Men”.

Second emperor to the Julio-Claudian Roman Empire, Tiberius was a sick, corrupt, perverse man, and very fond of his equally sick, corrupt and perverse nephew, Caligula, who would inherit Tiberius’s throne. From Seneca to Suetonius, Caligula was a depraved, insane tyrant. The latter accused Caligula of incest with his sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Drusilla and Livilla and say he prostituted them to other men. Famously he also is said to have made his horse, Incitatus a consul and appointed him a priest.

Emperor Gaius Caligula, reigned 37-41 AD found in Thrace.

Emperor Gaius Caligula, a sick puppy who reigned 37-41 AD.

The Roman Empire, established just a few Emperors before, was going to hell, until the stammering, stuttering cripple, Claudius inherited the throne (the Praetorian guards named Claudius Emperor in 41 AD after Caligula’s assassination, as he was the last male adult of the Julio Claudian left). He proved to be an able leader, focusing on canals, aqueducts, bridges, balancing power back toward the Senate (after Tiberius and Caligula had purged much of Rome of a voice), and winning many provinces under his reign (Thrace, Pamphylia and beginning the conquest of Britain to name a few). Sadly for the Roman Empire, Claudius was married to another Sour Grape and was followed by nephew Nero (reigned 54 – 68 AD), who was yet another sick puppy. The last of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.

Emperor Claudius (reigned 41–54 AD), part of the Borghese Collection at the Louvre

Emperor Claudius (reigned 41–54 AD), part of the Borghese Collection at the Louvre

Poisson d’Avril THATLou

taken from the Louvre website

taken from the Louvre website

Poisson d’Avril is the French version of April Fool’s Day, where on the 1st of April French people will post fish on each others’ backs. In tribute to this, the theme for next Sunday’s THATLou (a part of the Sunday series) is… you guessed it: Fish + Water! Lucky you’re reading this, as it’s you may very well pick up some terrific bonus points…

This “Still life with Carp” (creative name, no?) was painted by Abraham van Beyeren, a 17th Century Dutch master who’s niche was still lifes. He was a protege to Pieter de Putter. Though de Putter was a lesser painter, his name may be worth a THATLou goldmine —

It’s not guaranteed, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if for some hefty bonus points you just might be asked to write a limerick / haiku / rhyme about Pieter de Putter. These golden Carp could very well apply to the Animals in Art THATLou, or even the Food + Wine THATLou.

Oh yeah, and it’s not too late to sign up for the Poisson d’Avril Fish + Water THATLou, which is part of our Sunday Series open to the public. As we do the first Sunday of every month, we’re meeting at 2.30 on…. no joke… 1 April. Contact me now if you’d like to join a handful of veritable fisherman (among them Sasha Levensohn-Wahl, founder of Savoir Faire Paris,

Have I mustered your interest to put your Plume to Paper for Mr Pieter de Putter who just might have a Dutch stutter?

THATLou Logo: Provenance Kasia Dietz

photo by Johann Guetta, of Jet Set Productions

photo by Johann Guetta, of Jet Set Productions

This blog wouldn’t exist were it not for the encouragement of Kasia Dietz.  We were walking back from Gare du Nord, having seen off our friend Saad Iqbal. Saad had dropped by to see us for a long weekend to say hello before he toddled back out into the world, off to pick up his beautiful Columbian fiancee in London so they could have their multi-city weddings. I was telling Kasia about my treasure hunt endeavour when she suggested I start a blog about it. Doing what you love shines through, she said simply. She has that knack for making success seem seamless. Having moved here just three years ago to follow her now-husband, Kasia reinvented herself entirely. Leaving a successful career in advertising behind in NY, she came here without a word of French under her belt, started her blog (, started Kasia Dietz Handbags (which within a year of starting the company were being sold at most haute of all department stores, Bon Marche), and boom within such a short span of time has been a super success, and super source of inspiration to those lucky enough to be near her.

So when Kasia started her bag-painting workshops at the Sugarplum Cake cafe last December I was among the first to sign up. After hearing great tales of the full pack of cigarettes her non-smoking lungs inhale when she goes to her material supplier’s in the Sentier, I wanted to see what she did. Not to mention to take a stab at making a THATLou logo — I don’t have a creative bone in my body, but I also don’t have a platform in which to try exercising my non-creative bones, so here was the perfect solution. What better place to do some logo-brainstorming than hyped-up on a delicious sugar high? You don’t just get the joy of creating your own wearable art at the Kasia Dietz workshop, you also reap the benefits of her carefully chosen workshop venue, the Sugarplum Cake cafe, (an adorable pastry shop in the 5th Arrt)?

Below are snaps from both that first bag-painting session, where the THATLou logo was born (which Marfa artist and high school friend Sam Schonzeit made into the proper logo. For a while we were calling it ‘clean, fat and green’ for the roundness of the Lou vowels), as well as the fruits of my most recent attempt to imprint my Louvre stamp on the Met, in the THATMet bag.

photo by Opal Taylor, Kasia's Brooklyn bag is among my faves, as is the LES one

photo by Opal Taylor, Kasia's Brooklyn bag is among my faves

photo by Johann Guetta from Jet Set Productions, Stephanie of La Belle in France to the left, Kasia standing

photo by Johann Guetta from Jet Set Productions, Stephanie (of La Belle in France) to the left, Kasia standing

photo by Opal Taylor, Kasia serving Sugarplum Cake's delicious carrot cake

photo by Opal Taylor, Kasia serving Sugarplum Cake's delicious carrot cake

Where will the "Nat" for a THATNat (NG in London) go for the next round?

Where will the "Nat" for a THATNat (NG in London) go for the next round?

None of this, not the bags, nor the logos, nor the blog would have come about without one clever New Yorker, Kasia Dietz. Thank you, my darling!